Matthew Emmons- US PRESSWIRE
Going into the big Sunday night matchup between the Green Bay Packers and the New York Giants, there is one glaring stat that separates these two teams. The Packers offensive line has allowed a league-leading 32 sacks on Aaron Rodgers, while the Giants offensive line has only allowed their quarterback Eli Manning to be sacked 12 times.
The Packers struggles on offensive line have been a concern all season with no signs of them getting any better. Lineman Bryan Bulaga has already been placed on injured reserved, which has taken away some depth from a Packers line who only gave up three sacks last week against the Detroit Lions. In a move that surprised most fans last week, head coach Mike McCarthy called a very balanced game with 31 pass plays and 28 running plays. The move was to help stop the Lions pass rush from getting to Rodgers on a consistent basis. The run game didn’t work and stalled the Packers offense, but it did help Rodgers stay on his feet more when he dropped back to pass.
Now the Packers line will face what many consider the best front four in the league, led by Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul. Their edge rush will provide a challenge for the Packers, who allowed four sacks from the Giants last year in the playoffs in their disappointing 37-20 loss. Green Bay will try to stop to the pass rush by establishing their running game just like they did last week against the Lions. However, they are still ranked 24th in rushing, averaging just under 100 yards a game. This puts the Packers in a tough position because they can’t have another sluggish day on offense considering that the Packers defense is still banged up going against a dangerous Giants offense.
The one thing that will benefit the Packers is that the Giants and Manning have been struggling the past three weeks. Manning has not thrown a touchdown in his last three games and has thrown four interceptions. This is his longest streak without throwing a touchdown since his rookie season. If the Giants continue to struggle on offense then the Packers may be more willing to run the ball even if they are struggling to help give Rodgers more time in the pocket.
As for the Giants, only giving up 12 sacks on Manning this season is quite the accomplishment, but they will have a tough task this weekend going against the Packers pass rush. After finishing 27th in the league in sacks last season, the Packers now have 33 sacks on the season which is second in the league. This is quite the turnaround for Green Bay and they need to keep this success up this weekend to help out the secondary which will be missing Charles Woodson and Sam Shields. It is still unclear whether or not Clay Matthews will come back from his hamstring injury this week, but Green Bay did a good job adjusting to his absence last week getting five sacks on quarterback Matthew Stafford.
With both teams depending on the passing game to win games, the offensive line is a big part of their success every week and this week will be no different. The Packers line needs to step up their performance and coach McCarthy needs to keep calling plays that be keep Rodgers up on his feet throughout the game. While the Packers need to continue their resurgence on the pass rush and will have a big test against the best pass-protecting line in the game.
The game may be focused on the two elite quarterbacks who are in the game, but it’s the people that will be protecting them that will determine the outcome of the game.
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