Saturday, December 3, 2011

InReeseWeTrust: New York Giants vs. Green Bay Packers Week 13 Game Preview

Green Bay Packers (11-0) at New York Giants (6-5) at 4:15, Sunday in the Meadowlands
By Ben Kelly - 12/3/11

What happened last week?
In a game now largely overshadowed by Ndamukong Suh’s ejection and subsequent suspension this week, the Packers stifled the 7-3 Detroit Lions in a primetime Thanksgiving matchup. On the rare day when Aaron Rodgers’ offense scores less than 30 points, the Packer defense stole the show and held Detroit scoreless until the fourth quarter. Green Bay capitalized on Matt Stafford’s trio of interceptions with 17 points off turnovers. The Lions scored with 16 seconds left to make the score a respectable 27-15, but the result was never in doubt when the Packers carried a 24-0 lead into the final period.

Are there any Packer weaknesses?
In compiling these weekly previews, my first go-to for analysis is to pick apart a team’s losses and look for the trends that explain a defeat. For Buffalo it was the Bills handing a rookie left tackle his first start against the then-feared Giants pass rush in the Meadowlands. Last week it was the Giants’ limits in the linebacking corps allowing Jimmy Graham and New Orleans’ running backs to gash holes all around the field. When looking to Green Bay, there just isn’t a single scheme that yells “Exploit me!” The Packers’ 31st ranked pass defense is countered by the fact that opponents are always trying to keep pace with Rodgers and diminished by the Pack’s league-leading 25 interceptions. Green Bay has the NFL’s second-best turnover margin at +1.4 per game. Even when you think your team evened the score against the Packers with a touchdown, Rodgers responds by marching his offense down the field for a touchdown on the next drive a whopping 60% of the time. But alas! A feeble weakness for the Packers on the road, where they’ll be facing the Giants this weekend: margin of victory. The Packers enjoy the spoils of playing in Lambeau most, amassing a 20.4 margin of victory opposed to just an 8.8 road win margin. But still there is a catch. The Packers have played a tougher road schedule (opponents are 30-36 overall, .454) than at home (22-35, .400). When a road margin of victory is an undefeated team’s weakness, there isn’t much else to hope for. The Packers appearing on the Giants’ home slate might be the only comfort for New York this Sunday.

Any chance for redemption in New York?
The Giants do have a good history against undefeated teams late in the season- the ‘07 Patriots (twice almost) and ’98 Denver Broncos ring a bell. In 1998, John Elway led the reigning Super Bowl Champion Broncos into the Meadowlands with a 13-0 record. Sound familiar? Green Bay carries practically an identical resume on the surface- undefeated record, Super Bowl ring, super-human quarterback. In 1998 the Giants finished 8-8, perfectly mediocre. The 2011 Giants enter the weekend with a mediocre 6-5 record of their own and three fresh, consecutive disappointing losses and one major embarrassment on the game’s biggest stage this past Monday night. Not exactly the kind of three-game swing you’d like to carry into a matchup with the league’s best team, but we’ll have to deal with it.

Nothing about last week suggests the Giants have a chance against Green Bay. Forgotten man Eli Manning posted one of the best performances of his career, at one point stringing together 21 consecutive completions in the second half on his way to 406 yards and two touchdowns on 33 of 47 passing (70%). Only one other player deserves mentioning: Jason Pierre-Paul for his hustle from the line of scrimmage to stuff New Orleans’ fake field goal attempt on the opening drive. Deservedly so, postgame chatter in New York centered on how in the world the Giants could possibly reinvent its defense in time for the Packers. After a scoreless first quarter by both teams, New Orleans scored touchdowns on seven of its next nine drives, including one Drew Brees nine-yard scramble, his first rushing touchdown since week seven of two years ago. I want to believe in some Giants defensive magic this week, but I just can’t see New York stopping the bleeding against the Packers. The Giants and Packers faced off in week sixteen of last year in Lambeau, a game New York held on to until the Pack piled on three unanswered scores for a 45-17 victory. The Giants have no business winning this game… but they will. Just as Kent Graham lofted a pass into the corner end zone for Amani Toomer’s game winning score in ’98, ending the Broncos’ undefeated season, late-game magic from Eli Manning will save the Giants falling completely into a black hole this season. This season isn’t over yet. Giants win, 34-31.

1 comment:

  1. Die Hard Fan keep dreaming. Giants will get their ars handed to them. u are a gd fan keep it that way and point ur fan toward ur ass because thats where ur talkn out of.


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