So the formula to defeat a Giants team that has a Super Bowl winning quarterback and a bevy of top flight receivers could be score…score a lot, and then score again.
Barring weather as a factor, the Packers may have to choose to make this a shootout with Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams and try to outscore the Giants, but I hope it doesn’t come to that. With the injuries to the defense, the Packers will be better served to find a way to take time off the clock and extend drives rather than go to the quick strike. Of course, the way the Giants approach this game will have a major effect on how it plays out but here are some key elements for success.
1. Don’t let Perkins get going early
As opposed to a Lions team who really doesn’t have a running game, the Giants have found their bell-cow in Paul Perkins. In the game against Washington, Perkins had 21 carries for 102 yards and averaged 4.9 a carry. Of course, some of that yardage had to do with the Giants being more concerned with ball security and in a position to play the odds, and some of it had to do with Washington having to commit resources to cover Eli’s crew of wide receivers. But Perkins can gash you up the middle and also has the vision to bounce it outside if you don’t set the edge. The Packers run game strength on defense has faltered as of late, though teams are not running up big numbers on us, the two teams we played last (Vikings, Lions) had absolutely zero running game to speak of and we made them look better than we should.
The last thing the banged-up Packers defense can afford is to let the Giants gash them with the run. This makes the injury status of Joe Thomas critical in this game. While it is good to have Jake Ryan back and Blake Martinez had one of his best games to date coming back off his injury, Joe Thomas would be a well-received addition to that rotation on early downs. The Packers have plenty of experience with running backs that have to be swarmed and gang-tackled but if they don’t do that early…it will be a long day for the Packers’ defense.
2. Throw over pressure
Aaron Rodgers can hurt a team whatever they try to do with the pressure. We all know how good Aaron is when blitzed but if you choose to commit resources to blanket coverage, he can beat you with his feet if no-one is open. The problem is, the Giants can both bring pressure with just their front and blanket cover receivers at the same time. While the Detroit Lions did everything they could to limit Jordy Nelson with a less-than-100% Darius Slay, the Giants will be much more confident in their man-to-man situations. Eli Apple is playing great ball and the Giants front will be gunning for Aaron Rodgers.
While the Packers will certainly test the waters in the rushing game on early downs, they cannot expect to have the same success that they did against the Lions and throwing over pressure will be key. The Giants will not require the blitz to wreak havoc in the middle and Aaron Rodgers is going to have to throw over that pressure to get them to back off. This brings to mind one Jared Cook.
According to Pro Football Focus, Jared Cook graded out at a 77.7 in the game against the Lions, and that with a few drops on
targeted plays. The Packers will need that or more out of Cook to loosen up the Giants’ pressure if they want Jordy Nelson or Davante Adams to even have a chance in this game. Deep routes need time to develop and if the Packers can’t get the short game going, they won’t have success with the shot plays. The first three quarters of the Lions game saw Aaron Rodgers throw nearly all of his passes at 20 yards or less. And it should be said that the Lions were getting some pressure on Rodgers while focusing on coverage. The Giants will be a taller task and that tells me that Jared Cook and (if healthy) Randall Cobb out of the slot need to have big days.
I have two bold predictions in the game against the Giants…Jared Cook gets a red-zone touchdown, and with the return of Cobb to the slot…Geronimo Allison all but disappears from this game unless we have a lead in the second half.
3. Close the game with Ripkowski
The Giants were tied with Washington late in the 4th quarter (10-10) when Eli Manning hit a long pass to King and took them into field goal range. The Packers defense has consistently given up late points, even in the Lions game with the Hail Mary to Boldin. The Packers need to either possess the ball last or find a way to get another late pick. I don’t like the prospect of having the Eli with the ball late so the Packers will need to force the ball down the Giants’ throats late while protecting it late in this game.
Aaron Ripkowski came on as a tailback last week and the Packers used him early and often. To win this game, I think the Packers will need Ripkowski for some late-game heroics to extend drives and take time off the clock. Rip is a big body and the Packers’ O-line loves to block for him. Aaron Rodgers had high praise for Ripkowski this week and if he can continue to produce as the competition gets tougher, he will really make a name for himself in Green Bay.
So there you have it, my early thoughts on how the Packers beat the Giants, what are your keys to the game? Let me know in the comments section below or back on the Facebook Fanpage.