Early Bird Breakdown Week 5 – Giants @ Packers

Hello and welcome back to Early Bird Breakdown for week five of the regular season for the Packers.  This week the Packers leave their bye week hosting the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football, but before we dive in let’s look back two weeks ago at the Packers’ last game.

The Recap:

Two weeks ago Green Bay beat the Lions 34-27 off of a blistering first half offensive explosion. Detroit was able to throw all over the Packers and came charging back in the second half, but the lead was too insurmountable and Green Bay held on to win.

The Breakdown:

Packers’ Offense vs Giants’ Defense:

The last game showcased the good and the bad from the Packers’ offense. On the good side, Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdown passes & was very accurate on the day combined with Eddie Lacy running for over 100 yards. On the bad side, the Packers had difficulties moving the ball down the field via the pass and were aided by Lions mistakes, specifically one of the longest pass interference calls in years. In the second half, Green Bay was outscored 17-3 and despite Detroit having no business being back in the game suddenly was. It’s not going to be any easier this week, as last game versus the Lions the Packers faced the leagues 7th worst defense, now they face the 11th best.

After opening up their pocket book, the Giants this last offseason went to work signing free agents to shore up a very poor defense from 2015 and the results so far are paying dividends. The Giants are 11th in total defense and 15th in points given up per game, which is a step up from where they were dead last in yards and third worst in points last season.

However, as much improved as the Giants’ are, this is not like last season coming out of the bye and being overwhelmed by a historically great Denver defense, head coach Mike McCarthy has had an extra week to prepare for the Giants who should be able to create a solid game plan to exploit the Giants defense. One thing he will need to do creatively is use counters and perhaps an end around with Randall Cobb as the Giants’ front seven is the strength of their defense and they are a top 10 defense against the run. Using creative play calling to aid the run game will be needed here.

Another thing to keep an eye on is to see if with the extra week Rodgers has developed more of a report with one of his receivers, specifically Jordy Nelson. Early on this season, Rodgers has had a lot of timing issues with Nelson on back-shoulder throws. After an extra week of practice, we may see the best game overall from Rodgers this week (even if it is with fewer touchdowns than the last game).

Packers’ Defense vs Lions’ Offense:

This whole game will come down to how the Packers handle Odell Beckham Jr. Sam Shields is out definitively for the game. Damarious Randall has struggled in coverage this season but still will be tasked with guarding Beckham Jr if he is able to play. Right now, Randall is questionable with a hamstring injury and may not be able to give it a go. If that’s the case, then most likely the second year corner Quinton Rollins will be tasked as the man on Beckham Jr, which is a lot to ask of him. Green Bay is the 4th worst passing defense in the league this season, so if Odell Beckham is going to break out against someone, it’s reasonable to guess this may be the week.

The best weapon the Packers have at neutralizing Odell Beckham Jr is himself. This season, multiple teams have been able to get into his head by taunting him and getting clean hits in to throw him off his game. It may be worth a penalty early to send a message to Beckham Jr, but if the Packers fail to get in his head and contain him this will be way worse than what Stephon Diggs did a few weeks ago, and Beckham Jr has been waiting for a breakout game this season.

Alternatively, the Packers can pressure Eli Manning enough to make it so Beckham Jr does not have enough time to break free from coverage. The Giants offensive line has been stalwart so far this season, giving up only six sacks through four games, which is tied for the 3rd fewest in the league. Dom Capers will have to have a lot of different looks and blitz packages to generate pressure on Eli Manning. Fortunately, Clay Matthews is expected back after missing the Detroit game with an ankle injury. Clay Matthews and Mike Daniels will be tasked with getting into Manning’s face and hopefully generate an errant or dangerous throw, something that teams have been able to get Manning to do.

The Weather:

Lambeau expects to be around 50 degrees and clear at kickoff dropping lower into the 40s as the game goes on.

The Breakdown:

The Packers like the last game will need to come out with a bit of an offensive flurry to get ahead. There has been too many poor second halves in the last two seasons that it will be key to get points early. The Giants may be contained at first, but unless the Packers rattle Odell Beckham Jr, Green Bay will have their hands full and based on how the coverage has been without Sam Shields in the lineup there is a strong possibility one of the leagues best wide receivers breaks out for a monster game against the Packers. My gut is indecisive on this one, as this game has all the makings of a trap game where the Giants do enough on defense and Odell Beckham does his best Julio Jones impression in Green Bay and gets 200+ yards. However, Green Bay is so exceptional at home and the Giants have shown a propensity for mental mistakes this season, I see this one as a 27-24 Green Bay win.

As always, go Pack go! Stu Weis -Journalism graduate 2012, Carroll University