Jan 102017
 
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Romeo Okwara, New York Giants (January 8, 2017)

Romeo Okwara – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Green Bay Packers 38 – New York Giants 13

Overview

There was some weird payback karma going on in this one. No, the 2016 New York Giants were not as dominant as the 2011 Green Bay Packers, and the Giants were not expected to beat the Packers and roll to the Super Bowl. But like the Packers in that playoff game five years ago, the Giants were victimized by costly dropped passes and a morale-shaking, end-of-the-half Hail Mary. Every Giants fan in the world must have had a flashback to the Giants Hail Mary at Lambeau Field – it was even in the same end zone! And like that older playoff match-up, a close game rapidly got out of hand in the second half.

The Giants lost by 25 points. This was the team’s most one-sided defeat of the season. And despite the strong start by the defense, this was a total team loss. Offense, defense, and special teams all played poorly. Long story short, when you give up over 30 points in a playoff game and/or you are held under 20 points, you are not going to win. You are also not going to win when your are -2 in turnover differential. Not on the road in the playoffs.

So the Giants go back to the drawing board. They will have to spend the next 12 months to get back to the same position (or better) that they found themselves in this January. While the Giants have a relatively young team with a solid core of players, their most important player is 36 and on the downside of his career. The clock is ticking.

Giants on Offense

It sounds like lazy writing on my part because I keep saying the same things over and over again. But this was the sixth game in a row where the Giants did not break the 20-point barrier. The last time that happened to a Giants team was 1980. The Giants had 13 offensive possessions. The results? One touchdown, two field goals, two turnovers, and eight punts. Four of New York’s 15 first downs came after the score was 38-13 with less than three minutes to play. The Giants managed seven first downs and six points in the first half. Not counting the last meaningless drive, the Giants had four first downs and a touchdown (the entire “drive” coming on one play) in the second half.

The most disturbing element to all of this is that Green Bay isn’t all that good on defense. They were 22nd in the NFL overall (8th against the run, 31st against the pass). The Giants ran for 70 yards against the Packers and 11 of those yards were a scramble by Eli Manning. In other words, Giants backs gained 59 yards. That was not terribly unexpected since the Giants ran for only 43 yards against the Packers in October. But for the second time, the Giants could not take advantage of a terrible Packers pass defense.

And here comes the broken record – once again, the Giants proved they could not score touchdowns by matriculating the ball down the field in small chunks. Not by coincidence, their sole touchdown came on the big pass play. The Giants only had three plays over 20 yards on Sunday: a 26-yard reception by Sterling Shepard that set up the first field goal, a 51-yard pass reception by Will Tye that set up the second field goal, and a 41-yard touchdown reception by Tavarres King. Those three plays were practically the extent of the Giants offense on Sunday – against the 31st-ranked pass defense!

In recent weeks, point production had been poor, but the Giants had emphasized the ground game with a 50/50 run-pass balance or better that had led the Giants to winning the time of possession battle. Not this week. New York called 47 pass plays and 16 runs. Point production did not increase and the Giants got clobbered in the time of possession battle (25:29 to 34:31). Turnovers were not an issue until the game was already decided. The offense only committed two penalties for a total of 10 yards, but both penalties put the Giants in 1st-and-15 holes that contributed to two three-and-outs.

This game was a microcosm of New York Giants offensive futility in 2016. The Giants couldn’t run the ball. Their best scoring drives contained big passing plays. Most damning of all for a team that was in its third year of running a West Coast Offense, the Giants were terrible at the short- to intermediate-passing game. They were a West Coast Offense that sucked running the West Coast Offense. This was a strange development given the team’s top 10 offensive ranking in 2015 in the same scheme with few personnel changes. The most significant changes were moving from the Tom Coughlin/Ben McAdoo dynamic to Ben McAdoo/Mike Sullivan with a number of position coaching switches (quarterback, wide receivers, offensive line).

Quarterback

Eli Manning did not play poorly. And he was victimized by dropped passes (at least six), a couple of breakdowns in pass protection, and no running game. But on a day the Giants passed the ball 47 times in 63 snaps (or 3x the number of running plays) against the 31st ranked pass defense, more was hoped for and expected. Thirteen points and 15 first downs (four of which were meaningless) are not good enough. The Giants had five three-and-outs. Three other drives also resulted in punts. Eli’s fumble and interception – while not to be excused – came when the game was already decided. Manning finished the game 23-of-44 (disappointing 52 percent) for 299 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. Almost 40 percent of his yardage production came on just three pass plays.

Running Backs

Coming into this game, the question was would the Giants continue to try to force feed the ground game or would they try to take advantage of Green Bay’s poor pass defense? In the first half, the Giants passed twice as much as they ran (22 pass plays, 12 runs). Paul Perkins received the bulk of those snaps but he could not deliver with just 12 yards on seven carries (1.7 yards per rush). Rashad Jennings actually had more success four carries for 25 yards (6.3 yards per carry). Perhaps the most questionable decision of the first half was calling on Bobby Rainey to run the ball on 3rd-and-1 with less than two minutes to go before halftime. Rainey was stuffed on his only carry of the day. The Giants punted and a 7-6 game turned into a 14-6 nightmare when the Packers converted on their Hail Mary.

The Giants only ran the football four times in the second half of the game for a total of 22 yards. In all, Perkins (3 catches in 5 targets for 27 yards, one drop), Rainey (1 catch for 8 yards), and Jennings (1 catch for 4 yards) were targeted seven times, with five catches for 39 yards – but most of this pass-receiving action came after the score was 38-13. Perkins screwed the pooch by not falling on Manning’s fumble (the whistle had not blown).

Wide Receivers

Whether by design or by Manning’s decisions, the overwhelming majority of the passes were targeted at the wide receivers. Thirty of Manning’s 44 pass attempts were directed at the wideouts. However, the results were mostly extremely disappointing:

  • Odell Beckham caught 4 of 11 targets for 28 yards with three drops, including one dropped TD
  • Sterling Shepard caught 4 of 9 targets for 63 yards with two drops, including one dropped TD
  • Victor Cruz caught 3 of 4 targets for 30 yards
  • Tavarres King caught 3 of 6 targets for 63 yards with one 41-yard touchdown

In other words, these 30 pass attempts to wideouts resulted in 14 catches for 194 yards, just one touchdown, and 16 incompletions. Most disappointing was the play of Odell Beckham. It was hoped that “playoff Beckham” would reach even greater heights of excellence. Instead, Beckham laid a major egg. He was all but invisible against a terrible pass defense, and hurt his team with those three key drops. He dropped a 3rd-and-5 pass inside the 30-yard line on the promising opening drive. On the ensuing possession, he dropped what should have been a 28-yard touchdown pass. When the Giants were desperate, down 24-13 early in the 4th quarter, a wide-open Beckham dropped a deep pass on 3rd-and-11. The Giants punted and quickly found themselves trailing 31-13.

Victor Cruz’s career with the Giants may be over, and if it is, he went out with a whimper. The highlight of the game for New York was King’s 41-yard touchdown reception. One wonders if King should have replaced Cruz long ago. Shepard had a 26-yard reception on the first field goal drive, but three plays later could not come down with what should have been a 15-yard TD and then dropped a 3rd-and-3 pass.

Tight Ends

Jerell Adams was a somewhat surprising scratch as the Giants decided to go with more experience and activate Larry Donnell, who was not targeted in the game. Will Tye caught four of seven passes thrown in his direction for 66 yards, including the team’s longest play of the game and Tye’s longest catch of his career – a 51-yard reception that set up the second field goal. That said, a good tight end should have feasted on the defense the Packers were running. Tye just doesn’t have the size to muscle up against linebackers and come down with closely-contested passes.

Offensive Line

It was not a strong effort by the Giants up front. The Packers are no slouches against the run (8th in the NFL) or rushing the passer (40 sacks). Both showed as the Giants running backs were held to 59 yards on 16 carries (3.7 yards per carry) and Eli Manning was sacked twice with three quarterback hits. The Giants were only penalized twice on offense, but false starts by Ereck Flowers and Marshall Newhouse on 1st-and-10 stymied drives before they got started and led to two three-and-outs. The interior trio did not distinguish themselves with their run blocking as each had breakdowns that disrupted running plays, including the killer failed 3rd-and-1 effort late in the first half. The Giants could not run the ball despite the fact that the Packers played both safeties deep (cover 2). Julius Peppers got the first sack against Ereck Flowers, but that was a bit of a coverage sack where Eli ran into Peppers. Flowers later gave up a pressure by Peppers on 3rd-and-6 early in the 3rd quarter leading to a punt. On the second and last sack, Flowers was cleanly beaten by LB Clay Matthews, who stripped the ball from Manning for the final nail in the coffin. Marshall gave up one big hit on Manning late in the game.

Giants on Defense

To win this game, the Giants needed a dominating performance on defense. They didn’t get it. Tragically, it was the defense’s worst performance of the season, allowing five touchdowns (four through the air) and a field goal. The Giants did not force single turnover and allowed a close game in the 3rd quarter slip away with four consecutive scoring drives. Green Bay was 3-of-4 (75 percent) in the red zone and controlled the ball for over 34 minutes.

All of this despite the fact that the Giants defense started the game as well as could be hoped for (except for the lack of turnovers). The Packers first five possessions of the game resulted in four first downs and five punts. Green Bay was held scoreless until late in the second quarter. But then disaster struck. After poor punt, Green Bay got the ball on the Giants 31-yard line. Three plays later, they scored to take a 7-6 lead with 2:20 left on the clock. Then after a quick three-and-out, with 1:38 left on the clock, the Packers drove 80 yards in eight plays to take a heart-breaking 14-6 lead into the half when Aaron Rodgers completed a 42-yard Hail Mary pass that should have been easily knocked down.

The defense appeared to regain its composure in the 3rd quarter by first forcing a three-and-out and then holding on 4th-and-1 on the Green Bay side of the field. This turnover on downs spurred the offense to its only TD of the game and the Giants were within one point (14-13) with 5:16 to go in the 3rd quarter. It’s at this point the roof collapsed as Green Bay scored 24 unanswered points on their next four possessions. Despite accruing five sacks in the game, Aaron Rodgers had far too much time to throw. And with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie out of the lineup after the first series, the secondary did not play as well as had been anticipated.

The defense was only flagged once.

Defensive Line

The run defense was respectable as Green Bay backs were held to 75 yards on 23 carries (3.3 yards per carry) with a long run of 10 yards. Indeed, there were only two drives where the Packers ran the ball remotely well, the main one being their last TD possession when the contest was all but decided.

The problem was the pass rush where it was feast or famine. The five sacks (three by the defensive line) were a bit misleading as Aaron Rodgers had an eternity to throw on some plays – including plays that resulted in big gains or touchdowns. It was clear that the Giants were trying to stay disciplined in their rush lanes and not allow Rodgers to hurt them outside the pocket, but they simply gave him too much time. The most disappointing player was DE Oliver Vernon (1 tackle) who was all but shut out. Defensive ends Romeo Okwara and Kerry Wynn each had a sack but combined for a total of two tackles. Defensive tackles Damon Harrison (5 tackles) and Johnathan Hankins (3 tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for a loss) had strong games. Reserve defensive tackles Jay Bromley and Robert Thomas each chipped in with one tackle each, including one impressive stop by Bromley.

Linebackers

Jonathan Casillas (11 tackles) and Keenan Robinson (6 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss on a screen pass, 1 pass defense) were active. Casillas had one of his better games against the run, and was a factor on the failed 4th-and-1 effort by Green Bay. He did give up a couple of receptions to TE Jared Cook however. The other linebackers were largely invisible. Devon Kennard was credited with one tackle. Run defense was solid. Aaron Rodgers only targeted seven seven receivers, three of whom were Cook (5 catches in 9 targets for 48 yards), RB/WR Ty Montgomery (3 catches in 4 targets for 41 yards), and FB Aaron Ripkowski (2 catches for 11 yards). But 34 of Montgomery’s yards came on a 3rd-and-10 play against the secondary (not linebackers) as a wide receiver when the Packers ran a pick play.

Defensive Backs

Losing Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie early due to injury was huge. As the game wore on, the Aaron Rodgers and the Packers exploited match-ups in the slot against Trevin Wade in particular. Eli Apple (4 tackles, 1 pass defense on 3rd-and-8) also had some issues outside and finished a promising season on a down note. Janoris Jenkins (1 tackle) did a nice job except for the team’s only defensive penalty – a 32-yard pass interference flag in the 1st quarter. Coty Sensabaugh had six tackles, a sack, one tackle for a loss, and one pass defense on a 3rd-and-10 shot into the end zone to WR Randall Cobb.

Landon Collins was very active with nine tackles, one sack, and two pass breakups – including a 3rd-and-2 deep pass to TE Jared Cook. Collins had an amazing series midway through the 3rd quarter when he clobbered the fullback short of the first down after a short pass, helped to stuff the 3rd-and-1 run, and then did the same on 4th-and-1. Leon Hall started at free safety (over Andrew Adams) and accrued five tackles and broke WR Jordy Nelson’s ribs on a deep pass breakup. He did whiff on a sack opportunity that Hankins cleaned up on.

The only wideouts to do any real damage were Randall Cobb and Davante Adams, but these two wrecked the Giants secondary to the tune of 13 catches for 241 yards and four touchdowns. Three of Cobb’s five catches were for scores. Adams beat Apple deep for 31 yards and two plays later – after Rodgers had an eternity to throw – Adams beat Sensabaugh for a touchdown despite tight coverage. Then came the devastating 42-yard Hail Mary where none of the Giants defenders got enough depth or seemed to jump for the ball. Apple had the best shot at the ball, but Collins and Hall were back there too. This was one spot where DRC was really missed too with his height and leaping ability.

In the second half, Cobb beat Wade for 20 yards out the slot and then beat him against for the 30-yard touchdown on the very next play (Landon Collins also ran himself out of a chance to tackle Cobb short of the goal line). In the 4th quarter, Adams beat Sensabaugh out of the slot for 12 yards on 3rd-and-9. Three plays later, Apple was beat in the end zone for a 16-yard score by Cobb.

Giants on Special Teams

The Giants needed a strong game out of their special teams to win and they didn’t get it. The good news is that Robbie Gould made both of his field goal efforts (from 26 and 40 yards out) in very cold conditions. But Brad Wing self-admittedly had his worst day of the season with eight punts for 39 yards per punt (and a terrible 32.8 net). Not only were hist punts short, but there were a number of line drives. Wing did have one punt downed at the 6-yard line and another fair caught at the 10-yard line.

None of Gould’s four kickoffs resulted in touchbacks and the Packers returned two kickoff over 30 yards. Green Bay also returned a punt 23 yards, which set up a short field on the Packers field goal drive.

The Giants return game was a disaster. Dwayne Harris returned three punts for four yards (1.3 yards per return). Odell Beckham did not return a punt and the Giants came close to turning the ball over by accidentally touching a punt yet to be downed. While Harris did have a 31-yard kickoff return, Bobby Rainey may have sealed the Giants fate with his boneheaded decision to field a kickoff that was headed out of bounds or into the end zone. Instead, he stepped out of bounds at the 3-yard line after the Packers had gone up 21-13. The atrocious field position contributed to a three-and-out and easy Packers score after the 23-yard punt return. Odell Beckham returned two kickoffs for the first time in his career, with both returns picking up 24 yards each.

(New York Giants at Green Bay Packers, January 8, 2017)
Jan 082017
 
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Tavarres King and Ereck Flowers, New York Giants (January 8, 2017)

Tavarres King and Ereck Flowers – © USA TODAY Sports Images

GREEN BAY PACKERS 38 – NEW YORK GIANTS 13…
The New York Giants 2016 season came to a disappointing end on Sunday with a 38-13 drubbing by the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. The Giants led 6-0 until late in the first half when the Packers put up a quick 14 points, including a last-second Hail Mary pass. The Giants managed to close the score to 14-13 with six minutes left in the 3rd quarter, but then the roof caved in as Green Bay scored 24 unanswered points.

The Packers out-gained, but did not hold huge advantages, in total net yards (406 to 365), net yards rushing (75 to 70), and net yards passing (331 to 295). But the Packers held a big advantage in time of possession 34:31 to 25:29 and won the turnover battle two to nothing. The Giants were also 0-for-2 in the red zone while the Packers were 3-for-4. There were too many dropped passes, including two in the end zone.

The Giants received the ball to start the game and had seven first-half possessions. Three of these resulted in three-and-outs, with another just gaining one first down. The Giants did manage a 9-play, 54-yard drive on their second possession that ended with a 26-yard field goal by place kicker Robbie Gould. Their fifth drive traveled 70 yards in seven plays and resulted in a 40-yard field goal that gave the Giants a 6-0 advantage with 7:24 left to play in the first half.

After a quick three-and-out by the Giants, Green Bay got the ball back at the Giants 38-yard line with 3:45 to play before the break. It took the Packers just three plays to travel those 38 yards and go up 7-6 after quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Davante Adams. The Giants unfortunately went three-and-out again when a 3rd-and-1 run was stuffed and Green Bay got the ball back at their own 20-yard line with 1:38 to go. The Packers managed to reach the Giants 42-yard line and with six seconds left on the clock, Rodgers tossed up a Hail Mary pass that was caught by wide receiver Randall Cobb for the touchdown with no time left. Until those two possessions, the Giants defense had held the Packers to only four first downs and had forced five consecutive punts.

Despite the heart-breaking change in momentum to end the first half, this was still a tight game in the 3rd quarter. After both teams exchanged punts, the Packers lost a yard on a 4th-and-1 rushing attempt at the Green Bay 42-yard line. Two plays after that, quarterback Eli Manning hit wide receiver Tavarres King for a 41-yard touchdown to close the score to 14-13.

But after that switch in momentum, the game was all Packers. On their ensuing drive, Green Bay drove 63 yards in four plays to take a 21-13 lead on Rodgers’ 30-yard touchdown pass to Cobb. After a screw-up by kick returner Bobby Rainey (stepping out-of-bounds at the 3-yard line), a three-and-out by the Giants offense, and a 23-yard punt return by Green Bay, the Packers drove 23 yards in five plays to set up a 32-yard field goal to go up 24-13 late in the 3rd quarter. After yet another three-and-out, the Packers drove 80 yards in 10 plays with Cobb catching his third touchdown pass, this time from 16 yards out. Packers 30 – Giants 13. On the ensuing possession, Manning was sacked and he fumbled the ball away to the Packers. They put the game away with a 9-play, 55-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run. Manning’s final pass from the Packers’ 13-yard line with 34 seconds left in the game was intercepted.

Eli Manning finished the game 23-of-44 for 299 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. was held to four catches for 28 yards. Tight end Will Tye caught four passes for 66 yards, including a 51-yard reception. Wide receiver Sterling Shepard had four catches for 63 yards and wide receiver Tavarres King 73 yards on three receptions. Running back Paul Perkins carried the ball 10 times for just 30 yards. Running back Rashad Jennings had 29 yards on five carries.

Defensively, the Giants started off both halves strong but finished weak as Aaron Rodgers threw for 362 yards and four touchdown passes with no interceptions. He was sacked five times with safety Landon Collins, cornerback Coty Sensabaugh, defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, and defensive ends Kerry Wynn and Romeo Okwara all registering sacks. The defense was also credited with five tackles for losses and six pass defenses.

Video highlights/lowlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the game were defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (core muscle), defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa (hamstring), safety Nat Berhe (concussion), linebacker Ishaq Williams, tight end Jerell Adams, offensive tackle Will Betty, and running back George Winn.

Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie suffered a bruised thigh in the game.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Ben McAdoo and the following players are available at Giants.com:

  • Head Coach Ben McAdoo (Video)
  • QB Eli Manning (Video)
  • WR Odell Beckham, Jr. (Video)
  • LG Justin Pugh (Video)
  • S Landon Collins (Video)

ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
New York Giants General Manager, Head Coach Ben McAdoo, and select players will address the media on Monday.

Jan 062017
 
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Green Bay Packers at New York Giants (December 11, 1938) NFL Championship Game

Green Bay Packers at New York Giants (December 11, 1938) NFL Championship Game

Game Preview: New York Giants at Green Bay Packers, January 8, 2017

THE STORYLINE:
The New York Giants and Green Bay Packers ancient playoff rivalry has officially been reignited in full force. The Giants and Packers met in NFL title games in 1938, 1939, 1944, 1961, and 1962. The Giants won the first of these NFL Championships but lost the other four. Fast forward to the 2007 NFC Championship Game – the Packers were heavy favorites to win what ended up being Brett Favre’s last game in a Packers uniform. In a post-season classic and arguably Eli Manning’s best game, the Giants won in overtime. Four years later, the Giants once again tore the hearts out of the Packers faithful by pulling off a monumental upset of a 15-1 Packers team that was expected to waltz to the Super Bowl. Now for the EIGHTH time, two flagship franchises of the NFL will meet in the cold of winter in the playoffs. It’s fitting that uniforms of both teams are not all that different from those teams in the 1960s and that the game will be played at venerable and frigid Lambeau Field.

In terms of roster makeup, five years is almost an eternity. Very few players remain on both teams from the 2011 playoff game. Tom Coughlin is gone as is most of his coaching staff from that season. But the quarterbacks are the same. And the fans remember. Despite significant changes in both franchises, I guarantee you that many Packers fans didn’t want to see the Giants again in the playoffs. It is impossible for Green Bay fans to shake the pain of 2007 and 2011. And the longer Sunday’s game remains tight, the more nervous the people in the stands will get. The players on both sides on the field will feel that nervousness. The pressure is once again on the Packers, not the Giants. Psychologically, this match-up favors New York.

Win or lose, Ben McAdoo’s debut season exceeded expectations. Very few expected an 11-win season and a playoff spot wrapped up before the regular-season finale. Now we find out what mettle Ben McAdoo and his team are really made of. In some ways, this reminds me of 1984. In his second year after a disastrous debut season, Bill Parcells was still considered a question mark. His team was expected to be badly beaten by a Rams team that had easily done so in the regular season. However, the Giants pulled off the upset in a low-scoring game. It was the first major step in building the Parcells’ legacy. A win in Green Bay against his old team and his old head coach and mentor would be huge for McAdoo and the franchise.

That all said, there is one player on the Giants who may be under tremendous personal pressure: Eli Manning. The quarterback who holds virtually every record in team history turned 36 last Tuesday. As we have all learned, making the playoffs is never guaranteed. This could be Eli’s last shot at post-season glory. One more significant playoff run would ensure Eli’s legacy. On the flip side, if Manning fizzles, a team with a relatively young, solid core will have to be concerned about the all-important quarterback position moving forward in 2017. Does Eli Manning have a bit of post-season magic left in his right arm?

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • TE Jerell Adams (shoulder) – probable
  • RT Bobby Hart (forearm) – probable
  • DE Jason Pierre-Paul (core muscle) – out
  • DE Owa Odighizuwa (hamstring) – doubtful
  • CB Janoris Jenkins (back) – probable
  • CB Coty Sensabaugh (ankle) – probable
  • S Nat Berhe (concussion) – probable

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
The New York Giants have not scored more than 20 points in five straight games. If that streak reaches six in a row, the Giants will likely be one-and-done in the playoffs. Looking at the big picture, what Ben McAdoo and his staff have done is force fed the ground game in recent weeks. While the team has surpassed the 100-yard mark in each of the last three games, it hasn’t been pretty and point production has suffered. This strategy has reduced risk, increased the time of possession, and turned Eli Manning into more of a game manager. The Giants have been playing not to lose on offense, relying on their rapidly improving defense.

Opposing defenses have pretty much approached the Giants offense the same all season: play two-deep safeties (cover 2), double (and sometimes triple) Odell Beckham, and dare the Giants to beat them in other areas. Simply put, the Green Bay Packers are not likely to be overly concerned about what the Giants running game or other receiving options will do to them. They know Sterling Shepard, Victor Cruz, and Will Tye will not hurt them down the field. And they do not fear Rashad Jennings and Paul Perkins. The Giants have demonstrated all year that if they don’t get big chunks in the passing game (almost exclusively to Beckham), they have trouble moving the ball and scoring.

Back in October at Lambeau Field, this was how the Packers handled the Giants. New York scored 19 points and just one touchdown. They had only ONE play over 20 yards (to Tye for 27 yards) and only ran the football 14 times for 43 yards. In total, the Giants finished with an embarrassing 14 first downs (4 in the first half) and 219 total net yards. A jittery Eli Manning struggled against a poor pass defense, completing only 50 percent of his passes. Both offensive tackles struggled terribly. Cruz was shut out and Shepard held to two catches for 14 yards. Beckham was targeted 12 times, but only had five catches for 56 yards.

The 3-4 defense of the Packers finished 2016 ranked 22nd in defense (8th against the run, 31st against the pass). Their shoddy pass defense has further been weakened by injury issues at corner. Back in October, the Packers had the NFL’s 1st-ranked run defense and 27th-ranked pass defense. The Giants approached that game as expected, passing the ball 74 percent of the time (40 passes, 14 runs). But the Giants could not take advantage of Green Bay’s poor pass defense. So the dilemma the Giants face in this game is do they go with another pass-heavy game plan, hoping to execute far better? Or do they continue their recent strategy of force-feeding their backs against what is a quality run defense that is likely to play the pass first? If the Giants could actually move the ball on the ground against Green Bay, the latter strategy would make sense as it would help win the time of possession battle and keep Aaron Rodgers on the bench.  The problem is that is a big “if” as the Giants have yet to demonstrate a consistent ground game that moves the chains AND produces points (note the Giants only have six rushing touchdowns this year). At the very least, one would hope the more explosive and instinctive Paul Perkins receives the bulk of the carries.

The Packers are almost dead last in pass defense, but they have 40 sacks and have forced 25 turnovers (17 of those interceptions). Ultimately, what the strategy comes down to is this: does Ben McAdoo believe Eli Manning can play at a different level than he did in the regular season and protect the football? Does he believe his tackles can block Green Bay’s outside rushers better than they did in October? If he does, then he is more likely to open up the offense and play match-up football. Does Eli have some magic left? Is Odell Beckham a money player in the playoffs? Can rookies like Shepard, Perkins, and maybe even tight end Jerell Adams make a difference?

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
The New York Giants have a defense again. Unbelievably, the Giants improved from 32nd in 2015 to 10th in 2016 in yards allowed, and from 30th to 2nd in points allowed. But now it’s money time. The 2011 NYG defense finished 27th in the NFL, but turned it on during the playoff run. With the Giants offense struggling to score points, the pressure is on the defense to play as well if not better than it did down the stretch of the regular season.

The challenge is arguably the quarterback who is playing the best in the NFL right now, Aaron Rodgers. How well? A 40-to-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Worse, he has an 18-to-0 ratio in his last seven games. Rodgers is very accurate and can make all of the throws, even when on the move and not having his feet properly set. Indeed, some of his best plays come when he is buying time with his mobility. The Giants not only need to get pressure on him, but they need to bring him down. Not having Jason Pierre-Paul hurts as the Giants won’t be able to generate much consistent pass pressure without blitzing, like they did against the Washington Redskins last week. But when you blitz Rodgers, you are rolling the dice and risking giving up the cheap big play. The last time these two teams met, the Giants got virtually no pressure on Rodgers (no sacks and three QB hits). And there were plays when Rodgers had all day to throw.

That all said, there are two areas where the Giants should match-up well. One, with running backs Eddie Lacey and James Starks out, the Packers have been forced to play wide receiver Ty Montgomery at running back. While Montgomery has averaged an extremely impressive 5.9 yards per carry, he’s no Lacey. And the Giants feel they can rough him up. In the October meeting, the Packers ran for 147 yards on the Giants with Lacey leading the way.

The other area where the Giants match-up well is the Packers’ strength – their wide receiving corps. The last time these two teams met, Eli Apple and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie were hurt. As great as Jordy Nelson (97 catches, 14 touchdowns), Davante Adams (75 catches, 12 touchdowns), and Randall Cobb (60 catches, 4 touchdowns) have been, this trio hasn’t dealt with the trio of corners the Giants can field.

The greater challenge in coverage may be tight ends Jared Cook and Richard Rodgers, as well as RB/WR Montgomery coming out of the backfield. The Giants did not defend the screen game well in October, and Cook did not play in that game. In addition, wide receiver Geronimo Allison has looked good and the Packers may try some 4-WR sets.

Despite New York’s lofty defensive ranking, this game will be a challenge for the Giants. Much depends on which version of Rodgers shows up. He hasn’t had his best games against the Giants, including in October when he only completed half his passes and threw two of his seven interceptions. The Giants are not likely to get much heat on him without blitzing their defensive backs, but Rodgers will be looking for that too based on his film study of the Washington game. Steve Spagnuolo has to pray his defenders up front stymie Green Bay’s patch-work ground game (watch out for the fullback too) so he can concentrate on the pass targets.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
This is an area where the Giants can win the game. I expect Odell Beckham to return punts. And keep in mind the Giants early season success in blocking or coming close to blocking punts and kicks. If the Giants get desperate, might we see a fake from the not-so-conservative Ben McAdoo?

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Head Coach Ben McAdoo on the Packers: “Winners of six in a row. They’re scoring the football at a good clip, 31 points a game during the streak. Taking care of the football and Aaron is playing MVP-type football. Defensively, they get after the quarterback and are forcing turnovers. They have 11 turnovers in the last three weeks. They’re holding opponents to 18 points during their winning streak.”

THE FINAL WORD:
My head says Packers given the level at which Aaron Rodgers is performing combined with New York’s constant struggle to score more than 20 points per game. Also, Rodgers doesn’t turn the ball over and Manning does. But my gut says the Giants are in heads of Mike McCarthy, Rodgers, and the Green Bay fans. The longer this game remains close, the more nervous the Packers will get. Eli Manning understands the preciousness of the situation. And we’re about to see if Odell Beckham has a playoff level. The turnover differential will probably decide the game.

Oct 122016
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (October 9, 2016)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Green Bay Packers 23 – New York Giants 16

Overview

OK maybe Giants fans need to step back onto the ledge. A disturbing trend with the New York Giants has developed since 2012: losing. The Giants now find themselves in the midst of yet another 3-game and possibly longer losing streak. Such losing streaks make it exceptionally difficult for an NFL team to make the playoffs – even Roger Goodell’s watered-down, crappy-level-of-play league.

My wife asked me, “Do the Giants just suck again?” Ouch.

I found myself trying to justify that things are not as bleak as the results. I said, “The sum doesn’t seem to equal the parts right now.” But I also am reminded by Bill Parcells’ famous quote, “You are what your record says you are.”

I touch upon it more below, but long story short is that most of the Giants high-priced, multi-million dollar “star” players are not playing like stars.

Giants on Offense

I will repeat what I said last week: you can’t win in the NFL if you don’t score. And for the second week in a row, the Giants offense only scored one touchdown. For the second week in a row, the Giants didn’t score a touchdown in the first half.  The Giants won another game earlier this year against the Saints where the offense did not score a touchdown. The Giants have only scored more than 20 points once this season, and that was in a 29-27 loss to the Redskins.

The picture is worse this week. In the other contests, the Giants had at least been gaining yardage. This week, the Giants only accrued a paltry 219 total net yards (43 yards rushing, 176 yards passing). Those are Dave Brown-era type numbers. The Giants had four first downs in the first half. FOUR. They finished the game with only 14 first downs and 23 minutes in time of possession. Third down remains a problem as New York was 4-of-13 (31 percent) on third-down conversions.

What stands out like a sore thumb is exactly what I talked about in the game preview: the Giants are not making big plays. The Giants only had one offensive play over 20 yards (a 27-yard completion to Will Tye). Opposing defenses are concentrating on Odell Beckham and making sure that Eli and Odell don’t hurt them deep by playing two-deep safety coverage. The Giants have not been able to make teams pay by either running the ball or hurting them consistently underneath. The Giants only had 54 offensive snaps against the Packers. They only ran the ball 14 times.

This offensive ineptitude does not make much sense. This was Ben McAdoo’s offense last year, not Tom Coughlin’s. Eli Manning is in the third year of a system that he thrived in last year. The only change in the offensive line has been Bobby Hart playing at right tackle. The Giants parted ways with the disappointing Rueben Randle but added Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz. The running back situation has been in a state of flux due to injuries but they are not what drove the offense in 2015. Something is wrong but it is difficult to identify what the reason or reasons are. The Giants should not being doing this poorly on offense. If this continues throughout the season, Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan will be made the scapegoat by season’s end even though he currently is not calling the plays.

Quarterback

This is the type of game that Eli Manning’s critics love. This is where they come out of the woodwork and state his overrated or done. Eli played like crap on Sunday night. He was the major reason the Giants lost the game. Manning appeared jittery and was not terribly accurate. Right before halftime, with the Giants trailing 14-6, Manning missed a wide open Will Tye deep for what may have been a touchdown. On the very next snap, Manning fumbled the ball away after being sacked, setting up a late field goal for the Packers. It was a 10-point swing in the game.

Manning barely completed 50 percent of his throws, finishing the game 18-of-35 for a measly 199 passing yards, 1 touchdown, and no interceptions (he was lucky a pass on the team’s lone TD drive was not intercepted). This was against a Packers defense that had been 29th against the pass and that was missing its best corner. On a night when the Giants needed their $24 million (2016 cap number) to come up big, Eli came up terribly small.

Eli had a great 2015 campaign. Why is he playing worse? The wide receiving corps is stronger. He may be missing Shane Vereen, but is there that big of a drop off from Vereen to Bobby Rainey? I don’t buy the argument that age is catching up with him. Eli is a “young” 35-year old. He doesn’t have a lot of wear-and-tear on him. Is he hurt? Is it simply a funk? Is the McAdoo-Sullivan-QB Coach Frank Cignetti dynamic holding him back? I have no idea. But he should be playing better than he is.

Running Backs

The NFL’s #1 run defense was clearly not afraid of the Giants ground game. And the Giants coaching staff clearly did not think much of its own chances either. Giants running backs carried the ball 14 times for 42 yards (3 yards per rush). If you take away one 14 yard gain by Bobby Rainey, then those numbers look even worse. Orleans Darkwa’s seven carries gained just 11 yards. Yikes. Rainey gained 22 yards on five carries. Take away the 14 yard gain, and his other four carries gained eight yards. Paul Perkins had two rushes for nine yards.

The backs were more productive in the receiving game as Rainey caught all six passes thrown in his direction for 52 yards. Perkins caught one pass for 13 yards – he looks very dangerous on screen passes.

Wide Receivers

Opposing teams are keeping their safeties deep and doubling Odell Beckham. Wouldn’t you? Beckham was targeted twice as much (12 times) as any other target but only had five receptions for 56 yards and a touchdown. The other two “stalwarts” in the receiving corps were invisible against one of the NFL’s worst pass defenses. Sterling Shepard caught two passes for 14 yards. Victor Cruz was shut out. The Giants are going to have to closely monitor the Cruz situation. Is he still getting his feet back underneath him or is he permanently damaged goods? If it is the latter, the Giants would be best off moving Shepard to the slot and starting Tavarres King outside. In other words, don’t waste valuable playing time on a player who may be cut on a losing team. At some point a decision has to be made whether it is time to move on.

Tight Ends

Larry Donnell did not play because of a concussion. Will Tye had the Giants longest play of the night: a 27-yard gain. He also had a hard-fought 10-yard catch-and-run. He made nice plays on both of these receptions and got wide open late in the first half on what should have been a long touchdown had Manning not missed him. Rookie Jerell Adams caught his first two NFL passes and finished with 27 yards and actually looked pretty good as a receiver.

Offensive Line

The charge that Jerry Reese has largely ignored the offensive line is largely false. After all, the team has two first round draft picks and a second round draft pick on the OL. That’s a higher investment than most teams. The problem is the Giants don’t seem to be getting a good return on their investment. Bad drafting? Players out of position? Bad coaching? Everyone has a theory. Both tackles – Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart – had a rough night and were a major factor in the offense’s ineptitude. I’m not shocked that the two young players are having issues in pass defense. What is alarming is that the Giants front five can’t seem to run block against defenses that are not playing the run. Flowers (holding), Hart (false start), and Pugh (holding but declined) were all flagged with penalties too. Hart gave up the sack where Manning fumbled the ball away near the end of the 2nd quarter. Flowers gave up two sacks in the 3rd quarter and was lucky another 4th quarter sack was wiped out due to offsetting penalties. Flowers got worse as the game progressed.

Giants on Defense

When Steve Spagnuolo doesn’t have his full toolkit, he plays scared. And he did it against the Packers. Right or wrong, his intent was not to give up big passing numbers to Aaron Rodgers with a depleted and beat up secondary. To the Giants credit, they only gave up 23 offensive points and 259 net passing yards to one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks. Aaron Rodgers barely completed half of his passes, completing 23 passes with 22 incompletions and two interceptions. One would normally like the Giants chances in that situation. The problems were the Giants gave up 147 yards rushing and could not exert any kind of pass rush against the quarterback. The defense allowed three 70+ yard drives in the first half, two of which resulted in touchdowns. And with the game still in the balance late in the 3rd quarter, the Giants allowed two 65+ yard drives that took over 10 minutes off of the clock and resulted in field goals. The Giants had one last chance late when they cut the score to 23-16 with 2:54 to go, but the defense could not make a stand.

Defensive Line

The Giants simply are not getting their money’s worth from Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon. The Giants had no sacks and only three QB hits – one by Vernon, one by Damon Harrison, and one by Johnathan Hankins. This is the third time in five games where the Giants don’t have a sack. Indeed, there were more than a few plays where Rodgers had all the time in the world to throw. It was embarrassing.

With the defense more concerned with the pass than the run, more pressure was placed on the guys up front to do the job against the rush without extra support (Landon Collins). They largely failed. The Packers ran for 147 yards on 32 carries (4.6 yards per rush). The Giants did a better job on James Starks (12 carries for 33 yards) than Eddie Lacey (81 yards on 11 carries) and fullback Aaron Ripkowski (17 yards on two carries). Hankins was flagged with encroachment and Vernon with a personal foul after one of the interceptions. Vernon did have two tackles for losses and Harrison deflected a pass.

Linebackers

Better in pass coverage than run defense. My biggest problem with our linebackers is they seem invisible. Against the run and on screen passes, I saw a lot of running around with no effect. Their instincts just seem off. Kelvin Sheppard isn’t good against in any area. He had a chance to recover a potential game-turning fumble late in the 4th quarter and blew it. Jonathan Casillas started the season off strong but has reverted to his career journeyman form. He screwed up big time with his mistackle of WR Randall Cobb on 3rd-and-9 in the 4th quarter. This enabled the Packers to keep alive their final, time-consuming field goal drive. Keenan Robinson did some nice things in coverage, including knocking away an endzone pass, but he wasn’t very physical or instinctive against the run either. The stat sheet tells me Devon Kennard played, but you could have fooled me.

Defensive Backs

What should have been a team strength has become an area of weakness due to a rash of injuries. Two of the top three safeties (Darian Thompson and Nat Berhe) were out. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (groin) was in and out of the lineup all night. Eli Apple came into the game with a bum hamstring and left in the first half with a groin injury. Given all of that, it is fairly remarkable that Aaron Rodgers was held to a 50 percent completion percentage and 259 yards passing. The obvious bright spot was Janoris Jenkins with his three pass defenses and two interceptions (unbelievably, the defense’s first turnovers of the season). He saved a TD on the first play of the 4th quarter too. Each week Landon Collins is near the top of the tackle list. He also had a pass defense this week, but gave up a key 21-yard completion to Randall Cobb on 3rd-and-4 late in the 3rd quarter. Andrew Adams had five tackles and a pass defense. Bad news? He wasn’t noticeable. Good news? He wasn’t noticeable. Leon Hall had issues on the Packers opening touchdown drive, giving up three completions before Apple was burned for the 2-yard touchdown. Hall continued to struggle on the next drive and was lucky a penalty erased what should have been a 21-yard touchdown pass on 3rd-and-6. Michael Hunter gave up the 29-yard touchdown pass to WR Davonte Adams. Trevin Wade deflected away a late touchdown pass, but fell down on the 13-yard completion on 3rd-and-10 that sealed the game for the Packers.

Giants on Special Teams

Josh Brown was a perfect three-for-three on field goal attempts (47, 41, 30). Three of his kickoffs resulted in touchbacks with the Packers only averaging 21 yards on two returns. The Packers only returned one punt for three yards as Brad Wing average 39.2 yards per punt with three downed inside the 20-yard line. However, Roger Lewis was flagged with a 15-yard penalty for interfering with the returner.

Dwayne Harris injured his jaw and toe in the game. He returned one punt for six yards and three kickoffs for 103 yards (34.3 yards per return). Bobby Rainey also returned a kickoff 37 yards. In other words, the Giants kickoff return team had a good night.

Coaching

The Giants have to start moving Odell Beckham around more like they did his rookie season. Teams are doubling him far too easily. They also need to make more of a concerted effort to get the ball to Sterling Shepard. Defensively, it’s hard to be too critical after holding down the Packers’ passing game with a patchwork secondary. That said, where is the pass rush? And the team has once again developed an annoying habit of being unable to make a late defensive stand.

(New York Giants at Green Bay Packers, October 9, 2016)
Oct 102016
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (October 9, 2016)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

GREEN BAY PACKERS 23 – NEW YORK GIANTS 16…
The New York Giants lost their third game in a row, losing to the Green Bay Packers 23-16 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin on Sunday night. The Giants are now 2-3 and in last place in their division.

The Packers gained a 17-6 advantage by halftime as the Giants offense continued to struggle. In six first-half possessions, New York only gained four first downs and 93 total net yards (79 passing 14 rushing).

The Packers started the game with a 16-play, 75-yard march that took 8:42 off of the clock and culminated with a 2-yard touchdown pass. After gaining one first down, the Giants were forced to punt. Green Bay once again drove deep into Giants territory but cornerback Janoris Jenkins intercepted quarterback Aaron Rodgers at the New York 5-yard line. After both teams exchanged punts, the Giants “drove” 26 yards in five plays to set up a successful 47-yard field goal by place kicker Josh Brown. Packers 7 – Giants 3.

The Packers responded with a quick 5-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that started with a 31-yard gain by running back Eddie Lacey and ended with a 29-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to wide receiver Davante Adams as the Packers went up 14-3. After a three-and-out by the Giants, Jenkins intercepted Rodgers for the second time, setting up the Giants at the Green Bay 40-yard line. New York was only able to gain 17 yards on this “drive” but it was enough to set up Brown for a 41-yard field goal.

The Giants defense forced a three-and-out, but the Packers got the ball right back when quarterback Eli Manning was sacked and fumbled the ball away at the New York 31-yard line with 1:15 to play before halftime. The Packers were only able to net five yards, but it was enough to set up a successful 44-yard field goal as time expired. Packers 17 – Giants 6.

After both teams exchanged punts to start the 3rd quarter, the Giants cut the Green Bay advantage to 17-9 as New York gained 41 yards in nine plays to set up a 30-yard field goal by Brown. Both teams went three-and-out. Green Bay then extended their lead to 20-9 early in the 4th quarter on a 9-play, 65-yard drive that ended with a 33-yard field goal.

The Giants gained one first down and punted again. The Packers then drove a dagger into the Giants with a 13-play, 73-yard drive that took 6:22 off of the clock and resulted in 25-yard field goal. This gave Green Bay a 23-9 lead with 6:39 left to play. The Giants finally scored their first touchdown of the night on their next, and unfortunately, last possession. New York drove 63 yards in 10 plays as Manning hit wide receiver Odell Beckham for an 8-yard touchdown with 2:54 left in the game. However, the Giants defense could not hold as the Packers gained 13 yards on a 3rd-and-10 pass to seal the contest.

Offensively, Eli Manning was held to 18-of-35 for 199 yards, 1 touchdown, and no interceptions. Running back Bobby Rainey was the leading receiver with six receptions for 52 yards. Beckham caught 5-of-12 passes thrown in his direction for 56 yards. Wide receiver Sterling Shepard only had two catches for 14 yards and wide receiver Victor Cruz was shut out. Giants running backs were held to an embarrassing 42 yards on 14 carries. Overall, the Giants only gained 219 total net yards and were 4-of-13 (31 percent) on 3rd down.

Defensively, the Giants allowed 406 total net yards (147 rushing, 259 passing). Jenkins did have two interceptions and the team defensed nine passes, but the Giants did not register a sack and only hit Rodgers three times.

Video highlights/lowlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the game were free safety Darian Thompson (foot), safety Nat Berhe (concussion), defensive tackle Robert Thomas (illness), running back Rashad Jennings (thumb), tight end Larry Donnell (concussion), offensive tackle Marshall Newhouse (calf), and quarterback Josh Johnson.

Cornerback Eli Apple, who came into the game with a hamstring injury, left in the first half with a groin injury. Wide receiver/Returner Dwayne Harris suffered jaw and toe injuries.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Ben McAdoo and the following players are available at Giants.com:

  • Head Coach Ben McAdoo (Video)
  • QB Eli Manning (Video)
  • WR Odell Beckham, Jr. (Video)

ARTICLES…

Oct 072016
 
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Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants (November 17, 2013)

Jason Pierre-Paul Returns an INT for a TD – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Game Preview: New York Giants at Green Bay Packers, October 9, 2016

THE STORYLINE:
After an encouraging start, the New York Giants prospects for a successful season are beginning to fade a bit as injuries combined with odd scheduling have most pundits expecting the Giants to lose their third game in a row. Green Bay has had two weeks to prepare for this game while the Giants have had a short week. And the last quarterback you want to face with a depleted secondary is Aaron Rodgers.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • RB Rashad Jennings (thumb) – questionable
  • TE Larry Donnell (concussion) – out
  • RT Marshall Newhouse (calf) – out
  • DE Olivier Vernon (wrist) – probable
  • DT Robert Thomas (illness) – probable
  • CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (groin) – questionable
  • CB Eli Apple (hamstring) – questionable
  • FS Darian Thompson (foot) – out
  • SS Nat Berhe (concussion) – out

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
The New York Giants are moving the football (6th in the NFL in yards), but they are not scoring enough (27th in the NFL). That in a nutshell is all you need to know. From my perspective, the overriding issue is that teams are defending against the deep passing game, daring the Giants to beat them with the running game and short passing game without making a killer mistake (penalty, dropped pass, turnover, sack, etc.). Red zone offense has also been a problem in some games.

With the Giants depleted secondary, Green Bay is going to score. You have to figure the Giants are going to need at least 30 points to win this game. The Giants have no fullback and are down to Will Tye (more pass receiver than blocker) and Jerell Adams (green rookie) at tight end. My method of attack would be to throw caution to the wind and come up with 3- and 4-WR sets and pass, pass, pass against what is the 29th-ranked pass defense that is also missing its best defensive back (CB Sam Shields). The Giants are not going to win this game with Orleans Darkwa gaining four yards per clip or Will Tye or Bobby Rainey catching seven yard passes. Spread the Packers out and go for big chunks of yardage down the field. Last week, the Giants longest pass completion to a wide receiver was 14 yards. That’s not going to get it done.

Moreover, the 3-4 defense of the Packers is very tough to run against (#1 in the NFL allowing less than 43 yards per game). Their most dangerous pass rush threats are their two outside linebackers – Clay Matthews and Nick Perry. So both Giants not-so-nifty tackles will be under pressure with a heavy pass-first offense. If Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart can do a reasonable job in pass protection, then this game will come down to Eli Manning, Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard, and Victor Cruz doing more than they have done to date. Eli Manning has four touchdown passes. He needs to double that total in this game. Be a star. Be a difference maker. Same with Odell Beckham, who has not scored yet this year. Get a 4th wideout (Tavarres King) on the field – spread the Packers unimpressive secondary thin. Attack. And stop turning the football over!

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
The Giants are in a terrible situation with two of their top three safeties out and two of their top three corners hurt facing QB Aaron Rodgers and wideouts Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. You saw what the 31st-ranked Minnesota Vikings offense did against CB Trevin Wade and S Andrew Adams. The Packers have got to be licking their chops. Worse, the Packers actually have a very good ground game with Eddie Lacey and James Starks. If the Giants give their undermanned secondary additional help, Coach Mike McCarthy and Rodgers will simply call for a heavy dose of the ground game. Still, this is how the Giants will probably have to go. Force the Packers to drive the length of the field rather than give up the cheap big play deep and pray the Packers make a mistake. Rodgers is unlikely to do that, however, unless you get in his face.

Much depends on how effective Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is and how much he plays. DRC has an annoying habit of sitting on the sidelines when he doesn’t feel 100 percent. When Wade is on the field, Rodgers is going to go after him. Wouldn’t you? Nelson and Cobb are the recognizable household names, but the Packers have some good looking young receivers who can do damage too.

If the Giants are going to have any chance to win this game, the front seven has to elevate its game to a different level. The Giants have not gotten their money’s worth out of Jason Pierre-Paul (1 sack) and Olivier Vernon (1 sack). Inside, it was expected that Damon Harrison and Johnathan Hankins would be more disruptive. Owa Odighizuwa and Jay Bromley are doing nothing. The linebackers have to make big plays – force a fumble, intercept a pass, sack the quarterback. The group will have to stop the physical Lacy without an extra man in the box. And they MUST get to Rodgers without blitzing too much.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
Each week, the Giants do something bad on special teams – allow big punt return, penalty that wipes out block, muffed punt, etc.. It’s a trademark of the Tom Quinn special teams. Let’s for once have a clean game while making plays that help the Giants win the game.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Ben McAdoo on the Packers offense: “They are very good. With Jordy (Nelson) back, they’re firing on all cylinders in the receiving room. They have a good group of young receivers there that are developing as well. Randall (Cobb) is always dangerous in the slot. They can bring him out of the backfield, too. You definitely don’t want to let (Eddie) Lacy and (James) Starks get rolling downhill. They are two big backs and a nice one-two punch.”

THE FINAL WORD:
This is just a bad spot for the Giants. Back-to-back road trips on a short week against a quality opponent who plays well at home and who has had two weeks to prepare. Combine that with Rodgers versus the depleted secondary and you have a recipe for disaster unless the Giants “stars” start playing like impact players.