Mike McCarthy is 6-1 in his last 7 games coming off of a bye week. The only loss was a season ago. That game came on the road, and the team that the Packers lost to won the Super Bowl. McCarthy and his staff loves to prepare, and loves to game plan. When they are given two weeks to do so, they become a very tough out.
The team coming in to play the Packers on Sunday night isn’t exactly on a roll, either. They’ve lost two straight after starting the season out 2-0. They were wildly unimpressive in a loss at Minnesota and are the only non-Browns win on Washington’s schedule. Not only that, but their best player, Odell Beckham, Jr., seems to be having some sort of break down.
The Packers that people recognized returned two Sunday’s ago. There was a time in which teams would come to Lambeau Field and Aaron Rodgers and the offense would put 4+ touchdowns on them in the first half. That happened to the Lions on Sunday. At one point in the first half it was 31-3. Unfortunately, there was a time when the Packers would let some of those teams back in to the game. That happened in the last game, too. Detroit ended up bringing the game within one score.
It’s understandable if Packers fans aren’t convinced that they’ll see the Packers offense they saw against the Lions. First of all, it’s just one game. Secondly, the Lions defense, especially in the shape that it was in, might be among the worst in the league. Packers fans are going to need to see the Packers offense operate at a high level again. They’re going to need to see it done without Jared Cook on the field as a threat.
Why the Packers will win: That Giants defense is bad. Not only are they bad, but they are beat up. Eli Apple is at best going to be hobbled, and Trevin Wade is a disaster. Darian Thompson won’t have a chance to play and Landon Collins is more of a run defender than a “plus” cover guy. I honestly anticipate a start, at home, like you saw against Detroit. Any defense that gives up 24 points to the Vikings offense (no defensive scores) is in a lot of trouble.
The Giants really shouldn’t be able to run the ball. They are beat up at the running back position and aren’t that good of a run-blocking offensive line. Green Bay is (so far) far and away the best run defense in the NFL. If the Packers can slow Eli Manning and the passing game, even just a little bit, they should be a able to out-pace the G Men. There is some hope in that regard. Victor Cruz doesn’t look like much of a threat through four games, and OBJ is causing more controversy on the field than producing on it.
Green Bay is a better team than the Giants. I don’t think there’s any question about that. The Packers have to get back to winning 7 or 8 games a season at home. If they’re going to be the kind of team that wins what appears to be a wide-open NFC, they have to win prime time games at home against teams that they are better than.
Why the Giants will win: Their passing game. They have the athletes outside to score a lot of points against a Packers pass defense that hasn’t been able to figure it out yet without Casey Hayward (Chargers) and Sam Shields (concussion). Odell Beckham and Sterling Shephard are both real problems for Dom Capers and his pass defense, especially if they are playing from behind. If this game turns in to a shoot-out, there is a real possibility that the Giants can keep pace.
There really isn’t much defensively that the Giants can do to slow down Green Bay. Olivier Vernon is dinged up, and David Bakhtiari doesn’t let much get by him on that weak side anyway. Jason Pierre-Paul isn’t the same player he was prior to his fireworks injury.
Bottom line: as I said, the Packers have to win games against teams that they are better than at home. I’d anticipate 24+ points out of the offense in the first half. I think Aaron Rodgers gets his first 300+ yard game in a long time because I don’t think the pass defense is going to be able to keep the Giants down, either. This game will be competitive long enough to truly see what the Packers offense can do. Packers 41 Giants 30