As ugly as it might be, the Giants are slowly creeping back into things amidst a three-game winning streak.
Now the Giants (3-6) fortuitously welcome the Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers (5-4) to MetLife Stadium on Sunday afternoon. With the Packers now down to their third-string quarterback Scott Tolzien, this is not the same high-octane Packers we have been accustomed to seeing in the past. It’s not just Rodgers the Packers are missing, as they will be without Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley while playing with a banged-up Clay Matthews.
Clearly this is not the same Packers team that was predicted to be in the thick of things for a Super Bowl run. The Giants have a good shot in this game and they’ll take any win, any way they can get them. With the Giants one game back in the loss column in the NFC East, the division race is still wide open.
So, let’s look at five things to look for in the Giants-Packers game.
Can the Giants attack Tolzien and rattle him?
Despite being the third-string quarterback being pressed into action, Tolzien played admirably in the Packers 27-13 loss to the Eagles last week. He was poised in the pocket and made the passes that needed to be made.
However, he had the comfort of playing at home. On the road in a hostile environment, it is of paramount importance that the Giants harass, knock down and get the youngster off his rhythm. If so, the Giants will be in good shape to win the game.
Can Andre Brown duplicate the game he had in his season debut against the Raiders last week?
Brown, despite missing the first eight games of the year, bulldozed his way into the mix last week by rushing for 115 yards and a touchdown on a whopping 30 carries. He was definitely not eased into the game plan.
Brown is now firmly entrenched as starter at running back for the Giants, and if he can give the Giants that type of running effort every week, this offense will be more balanced and move the ball more effectively. Expect the Giants to go to the well once again with a heavy dose of carries for Brown.
Which Eli Manning will show up?
After playing two straight games of mistake-free football, Eli Manning took a step back last week against the Raiders throwing a pick-6 and looking off his game. He did make the plays down the stretch to secure the win, but it wasn’t because he was throwing crisp passes (not to mention, drops on the receivers played a part).
The game was won on the ground. However, the Packers can be beat in the air, allowing 246 passing yards per game (18th in the NFL) and 17 touchdowns via the air (tied for 22nd in the NFL). It would be nice if Manning can get going and pass for over 200 yards and throw a couple of touchdowns. It would boost everyone’s confidence if he can finally have a productive game in a win.
How healthy is Jason Pierre-Paul and will he play?
After suffering a shoulder injury in last week’s game against the Raiders, Pierre-Paul came back into the game, but he was clearly not 100 percent. Pierre-Paul says he feels “good”, but his status for the Packer game is “iffy” according to the Daily News.
JPP practiced in a limited capacity on Friday. Given the importance of the remaining games, I figure he’ll give it a shot. How effective he’ll be, well, that is to be determined.
Will the Giants limit Eddie Lacy?
While the Packers might be missing Rodgers, they are getting great production from their running game, specifically from rookie Eddie Lacy. Lacy has been a beast of late, rushing for 483 yards and three touchdowns in his last six games. If the Giants can contain him, it will go a long way toward securing a victory.
The Giants have done a great job of containing the opponent’s lead back. The Giants have done a good job limiting the exploits of LeSean McCoy, Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte and Jamaal Charles this year. Thus far on the season, the Giants rank 10th against the rush, allowing just 102.8 rushing yards per game. With an inexperienced quarterback at the helm for the Packers, expect the Giants to load the box and dare Tolzien to beat them.
Dan Stack | Featured Columnist