New York Giants (2-2) vs. Green Bay Packers (2-1)
8:30pm ET Sunday on NBC
The Green Bay Packers are coming off a much needed bye week after narrowly surviving a comeback attempt by the lowly Lions, while the Giants had a short week after falling to a Vikings D that shut down Odell Beckham Jr.
The Giants lost to the Vikings in a totally predictable fashion, as the Minnesota secondary, especially Xavier Rhodes, strangled the New York passing game, holding OBJ to a career-low 23 yards on 3 catches by being messing up his timing and his head. Beckham got a flag mid-way through the second quarter, for taunting Rhodes after a catch for a 4-yard gain, turning 2nd-and-6 into 2-and-15. Two 10-yard completions later, the Giants punted on 4th-and-1. Eli Manning completed just 25 of 45 pass attempts for 261 yards, 0 TDs and an interception by Rhodes, who pulled it in at his own 28 and turned around 29 yards to the Giants’ 43, setting up a field goal that would extended Minnesota’s lead to 17-3.
Manning has three talented receivers at his disposal in Beckham, Victor Cruz and Sterling Shepard, but he’s got no running game to keep opposing defenses honest. RB Shane Vereen is likely out for the season, and Rashad Jennings is still nursing a bad thumb, leaving much of the rushing duties to Orleans Darkwa, who came into this season with 45 carries and 176 yards under his belt. Darkwa had 12 carries against Minnesota for 48 yard and a TD, but it’s clear coach Ben McAdoo has little faith in him or of his other options, as they Giants ran the ball just 18 times Monday.
On defense, the Giants couldn’t stop Sam Bradford, who hit on 26 of 36 for 262 yards and a touchdown and zero INTs, while running back Jerick McKinnon carried the ball 18 times for 85 yards and a touchdown. It was the third time in four games that New York failed to force a turnover.
Two weeks ago, against the Lion, the Packers jumped out to a 31-3 lead with a 1:10 to go in the first half, and very nearly lost, as Detroit mounted a comeback that began with a 73-yard pass from Matthew Stafford to Marvin Jones to make the score 31-10. Stafford would then complete 6 of 7 for 53 yards on the first possession of the second half, to which the Packers responded with a field goal to make it 34-17. Stafford would again hit on 6 of 7 for 70 yards to set up a field goal, and later hit on 4 of 5 for 58 yards and another TD pass to Jones to make it a one-possession game, 34-27 with 3:40 to play. Only then did the Packers stop the bleeding, not with their D, mind you, but by running out the clock with a pair of 1st down.
Aaron Rodgers’ production has been trending steadily downward for five years now, last season reaching the point where lots of folks were asking, “What’s Wrong With Aaron Rodgers?”, some going as far to ask “What the Hell Is Wrong With Aaron Rodgers?” “Nothing”, Olivia Munn from others, and a diminished supporting cast were among the possible answers.
The question came up again this fall, after the Packers lost to the Vikings (oh look – the Pack and the Gi’nts have something in common!), with the guys at 538.com doing a deep dive. They found that not only is Rodgers completing steadily fewer pass (down to 58.5% thus far in 2016), his yards per pass play (5.69) is also dwindling. Add to that the fact that he’s being sacked on 7.8% of his pass plays, and you’re gonna have problems. When you’re on pace to set a career low in yards per game for the second year in a row, something is definitely wrong. Fortunately, the dude can still close the deal, with 7.4% of his passes going for TDs (third-best in the league) and he takes care of the ball, having thrown just one INT. Rodgers’ decline picked up serious speed when wide receiver Jordy Nelson missed 2015 with a torn ACL, and it would appear that he’s not yet up to full speed, something that’s hard to get to when you’re 31.
Green Bay’s pass defense is weak, surrendering 307 yards per game and just 2 interceptions, and that’s been against Blake Bortles, Sam Bradford and Matthew Stafford, not exactly a Pro Bowl squad. But the Pack does have the best run defense in the league, holding opponents to just 128 yards on 71 carries, an average of 1.8 yards, and just 1 TD. Maybe the defensive line could spare a guy to help out in the secondary.
Eli Manning is a better and more experienced QB than three that have already had their way with the Green Bay secondary, and he’s got a receiving corps that’s about as good as anyone’s. If Beckham can manage not to soil his diaper, the Giants’ passing game should be able to rack up yards at will, and their defense should be just good enough to keep a lid on a past-his-prime Aaron Rodgers.
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Washington Redskins vs. Baltimore Ravens
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Detroit Lions
Chicago Bears vs. Indianapolis Colts
Atlanta Falcons vs. Denver Broncos