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Banged-Up Giants Have Bloody Big Challenge vs. Packers

Dec 1, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) runs the ball against Green Bay Packers cornerback Tramon Williams (38) during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

When the New York Giants meet the Green Bay Packers overseas on Sunday, it will be the first game in London in 15 years that will feature two teams with winning records.

The Packers are heavy favorites (-7.5) in this one, but one might consider that the Giants are the only team that played in London and then went on to win a Super Bowl (XLII), beating the Patriots 17-14 in the David Tyree helmet-catch game. In fact, the Giants have played twice in London, 2007 and 2016, making the playoffs in both seasons.

Let's see if the current injury-depleted Giants team can pull off the upset and make the playoffs in 2022. History is definitely on their side.

Meanwhile, here is a breakdown of Sunday’s game:

Packers Offense vs. Giants Defense

No matter where the game is played, it is always a scary proposition when your team is facing Aaron Rodgers. The Packers enter with a 3-1 record after beating New England 27-24 in overtime last Sunday.

This is not your usual Packers offense that the Giants will be facing. Green Bay is scoring just 18.8 points per game (21st in the NFL) while still ranking sixth in total offense (377 yards per game). The strength of the Packers’ offense is their run game, which features Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. Green Bay has relied heavily on these two backs while Rodgers and the receiving corps build rapport and chemistry. With veteran Allen Lazard and Rodgers' safety net, Randall Cobb, along with rookies Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson, the Packers have been steadily improving.

Wink Martindale came over with first-year head coach Brian Daboll to coordinate the defense. Martindale brings a wealth of knowledge to New York, along with a pressure package that can absolutely frustrate and destroy any offense in the league. The Giants’ defense is currently ranked 15th in total yards allowed and ninth in points allowed.

Where the Giants have struggled is stopping the run; they are allowing 141 yards per game on the ground, which is ranked 28th in the league. Look for Green Bay to test this injury-depleted defense early and often on the ground.

While this Giants’ defense is first in the league with six forced fumbles, they are last with no interceptions. Look for Martindale to show multiple defensive front looks – the 46-front that was made famous by the late Buddy Ryan – and use blitzing linebackers and secondary personnel to control the Packers’ rush offense.

If the Giants can get the Green Bay offense off schedule and in third-and-long situations, it will be to their advantage. Their defense ranks second on third down,  allowing a conversion rate of just 29.4%. The Giants are also very stingy in the red zone, ranking second in the NFL.

New York will have a chance to stay close in this game if it can force field goals in the red zone.

Giants Offense vs. Packers Defense

Even though QB Daniel Jones appears to be available to play, this could be a difficult matchup for the Giants. The good news is that Saquon Barkley is back and better than ever. The Giants are averaging a league-leading 192.5 yards per game on the ground, and Barkley leads the NFL with 5.5 yards per carry. If there is an area that can be exploited, it's Green Bay’s inability to stop the run. The Packers are giving up 126.8 rushing yards per game.

If the Giants don't have early-down success and are forced to throw the ball to a depleted receiving corps, this could spell disaster. New York is expected to be without receivers Wan’Dale Robinson, Kadarius Toney, and Kenny Golladay. This leaves Jones to throw the ball to the likes of David Sills, Darius Slayton and Richie James, a trio that has combined for 22 receptions and 228 yards this season.

If I am the Giants, I make sure Barkley is properly hydrated and ready to go, and I hand the ball off to him as much as possible, utilize the hurry-up and screen game. This would ideally shorten this contest as much as possible by playing keep-away from Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' offense.

Stats to Know

The Giants are plus-1 (tied for 11th) in turnover differential, while the Packers are minus-3 (28th). If the Giants can win the time-of-possession and turnover battles, they might be able to pull off the upset in spite of their injuries. Holding on to the ball for 35-plus minutes could be the key to victory.

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