Friday, October 07, 2016

Preview: Packers Host Giants on Sunday Night

The Giants are traveling to Lambeau Field on Sunday night and in need of a change in momentum. They've lost their last two games, their secondary is a mess of injuries, and their star player has been acting like a seven year old though I doubt they'd really consider benching him.
Both defenses are dealing with similar problems. They are both missing starters in the secondary due to injury, and they've seen their pass defenses starting to unravel. For the Giants, it's more like a death by a thousand cuts, with different receivers burning them at different times over their past two losses. For the Packers, the loss of CB Sam Shields (concussion) has exposed CB Damarious Randall, who's been burned badly by the last two No. 1 receivers he's faced (Stefon Diggs and Marvin Jones). It also looked like Randall injured his groin during the first half against the Lions, which is probably why he struggled to keep up with Jones in the second half of that game. SS Morgan Burnett should return on Sunday, but Randall will probably be less than 100% (if he plays) while Shields is still out. Both defenses have been great against the run, though the Packers own a much higher ranking on Football Outsiders.

Both offenses are playing a similar style too (not surprising since Mike McCarthy's former assistant coach Ben McAdoo is now the head coach of the Giants). They both pass the ball much better than they can run it. Neither one is as good this season as they've been in the past, but the Packers are still ranked No. 11 though the air according to Football Outsiders, which is better than the Giants can boast so far. The Vikings were daring the Giants to run the ball last week (often lining up with only six men in the box) and the Giants could only manage 78 yards rushing.

Covering the Giants's receivers under normal circumstances would be a challenge and the injuries in the Packers's secondary are going to make more of a challenge. Because of the poor Giant ground attack, QB Eli Manning might be throwing the ball a lot, and despite the recent meltdown by WR Odell Beckham Jr., they'll probably have much more success this week than they've had during their last two losses.

The Packers offense hasn't been too interested in running the ball either (RB Eddie Lacy's averaging fewer than 15 rushing attempts per game, so far) and a depleted Giants secondary is sure to be QB Aaron Rodgers's main target, even if the Giants see the return of a couple cornerbacks from injury.

The key advantage for the Packers, despite some similarities (they can pass but they can't run, they can stop the run but cannot pass), is that the Packers are a little better at all these things than the Giants. Another key is that while the Giants have been playing (and losing) the past two weeks, the Packers are as healthy as their going to get coming off the bye week. All of this means that the the Packers are listed as heavy 7.5 point favorites (only the Patriots, featuring the return of Tom Brady, who gets to beat up on the Browns this weekend, are more favored).  The game might look like a repeat of the Lions game, with both teams struggling at some point, and the Packers just doing a bit more to hang on for the win.

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