Sunday, October 09, 2016

2016 Week #5: Packers vs. Giants Preview & Prediction

Following their Week 4 bye, the 2-1 Green Bay Packers host the 2-2 New York Giants tonight at venerable Lambeau Field. Rested and ready to go after an unusual early season schedule -- actually, the entire season schedule is a bit odd, isn't it? -- the Packers get some of their key players back. Among them, Letroy Guion will rejoin a defensive front that has been more than holding its own in his absence. His addition back into the rotation tonight (plus the return of Mike Pennel who comes off suspension this next week) will make an already very good defense even better. CB Sam Shields, however, will still be out for tonight's game, as will TE Jared Cook, who was injured in the Lions game. CB Damarious Randall was listed as questionable at the time of this writing. What might that mean for tonight?

On offense, the Giants have a "running-back-by-committee" approach to their ground game, with three capable running backs to move into rotation as the game demands. The receivers, led by current head-case Odell Beckham Jr., can create problems for an undermanned or mediocre secondary. QB Eli Manning can certainly do some damage when given time. He didn't have that luxury in the Giants last game at Minnesota. But he is 2-1 at Lambeau Field, including playoffs, 4-3 overall versus the Packers. In his last four games against the Pack -- including the 2011 playoff win -- Manning has had a pair of 330-plus-yard games, three three-TD games, and a cumulative 104.9 passer rating. Yeah...can't let him have that type of game tonight. Keep pressure on him, make him uncomfortable, and turnovers will be the outcome.

LB Clay Matthews and the rest of the Packers defense
will need to put pressure on Giants QB Eli Manning all evening.

(Photo: Mark Hoffman / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Defensively, reports indicate that the Giants may be without three starters in their defensive backfield. That would seem to bold well for the Packers passing game, which finally found itself in the first half of the Lions game. The Giants pass rush is one which the Packers should be able to handle, with all due respect to Jason Pierre-Paul.

McCarthy vs. McAdoo
There's a great story in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel by Tom Silverstein about the task facing former Packers assistant coach and now Giants head coach Ben McAdoo. The fact that both head coaches know one another's tendencies is part of the game story. Seems as if the advantage would go to McAdoo, though, as he also knows very well the Pack's personnel on both sides of the ball, as well as the various schemes used. Still, McCarthy has the head coach tenure advantage: McCarthy's been there. But beyond that...? Might be an interesting chess match played by the coaches. But the bottom line is that the players still play. Advantage: Packers.

The Prediction
The Packers are currently favored by 7 points. That always makes me nervous as it seems in recent times the Packers don't always do well when they are favored by such a spread. The over-under, for those who pay attention to such things, is listed as 48.5 points.

We think that playing at Lambeau, following a bye week for the Packers and a second straight week on the road by the Giants (and on a "short" week at that), the personnel, and whatever intangibles you ascribe to a Sunday night game, the Packers will emerge victorious. Given that the ViQueens remain unbeaten after trouncing Houston today, the Packers can't afford to drop a game further behind in the division. They need this game.

We're calling it 34-24 Packers.

Go Pack Go!!!