Green Bay Packers vs New York Giants: 5 Keys Matchups
Green Bay Packers vs New York Giants: Key Matchups In Week 11
The Green Bay Packers travel to “the greatest city in the world” this weekend to take on the New York Giants, in a battle between two teams who are recently heading in different directions.
The Packers, losers of two straight home games, will try and get back to their winning ways against the Giants, who have put together two straight wins and are still very much alive for a division title, even with a record of 3-6.
The injury report for the Packers will once again be filled with big name players, and without quarterback Aaron Rodgers for the second straight week, the team must come together and find a way to get a big road win. The defense must play well, and Scott Tolzien must prove he can make plays while under center.
Tolzien will have a full week of practice behind him going into Sunday, but with newly acquired and former Packer Matt Flynn getting signed only a few days ago, I expect a short leash for Tolzien, who will be making his first career NFL start.
The season for the Packers is slowly starting to slip away, but with a fairly reasonable schedule ahead of them, anything can happen.
If the Packers are going to pull out a win, Tolzien will certainly have to play a big role, however, he does not reach my top five matchups for this game. Here are the matchups that did make my Week 11 look out for the Packers and the Giants.
5. Green Bay Packers' Linebackers vs. Andre Brown
Kicking off my matchups to watch for this week is the battle between the Packers' linebackers and Giants running back Andre Brown.
The Packers have struggled the last two weeks with bringing down opposing running backs. They have missed several tackles, and have looked pathetic in doing so. This week, they won’t be going up against pro-bowlers such as Matt Forte or LeSean McCoy; regardless, they must step up and head coach Mike McCarthy made sure it was addressed.
Earlier this week, McCarthy told reporters that he expanded tackling drills in practice and made sure it was a point of importance for the entire defense. However, I believe much of the blame goes to the linebackers.
The Packers have very physical players at linebacker, but put away all the physical attributes -- they need to improve tackling and can’t allow running backs to have their way around the line.
The core linebackers will certainly be tested this week against Brown. He took over the starting role this past week against the Oakland Raiders, and boy, did he impress. Brown finished with 30 carries (showing his durability) and ran for 115 yards while producing a touchdown in the process. He proved to the Giants and the league that he can be a physical back while still keeping his quickness, and he certainly will be looking forward to a matchup against the Packers.
If the Packers are going to win this game, the defense must step up and get off the field. In order to do so, they must get back to fundamentals and start tackling. It won’t be easy against Brown.
4. Clay Matthews vs. Justin Pugh
Staying with the defense for the Packers, the next matchup to watch is between Clay Matthews and Giants rookie right tackle Justin Pugh.
Matthews returned last week after missing a few weeks with an injured thumb. He battled the entire game with a massive club on his hand that surely had an impact on his performance. He finished the game with just one tackle and never really came close to sacking Eagles quarterback Nick Foles.
This week, he will go without the club and use a lighter support brace for that injured thumb. This will be an attempt by Matthews to feel more comfortable and hopefully allows him to get back to his old ways. It will be tough, however, against a rookie that was highly touted coming out of college.
Drafted in the first round by the Giants, Pugh was immediately thrown into the mix, in an attempt to protect Eli Manning. He has done a great job in the protection game and has not allowed a sack since Week 3 of the season. It is clear that he is working very hard on his craft every day and has made the adjustments to become not only a good rookie, but also a dominant tackle.
The matchup between Matthews and Pugh will certainly be a great one to see. Can Matthews break out of his recent slump and regain his form? Or will Pugh control “Claymaker” and allow Manning to pick apart a struggling secondary? We’ll find out at 1pmET on Sunday.
3. Green Bay Packers' Wide Receivers vs. New York Giants' Secondary
The next matchup to watch for will be on the offensive side of the ball for the Packers. This is the battle that will take place between the receivers and the defensive backs of the Giants.
As many fantasy football players know, the Packers receivers’ value is dropping by the minute as Rodgers sits on the sidelines. However, fantasy football doesn’t matter to any player. It certainly won’t affect the Packers receivers.
This week, the receivers will get a chance to show how dominant they can be against a secondary that has struggled this season. Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Jarrett Boykin will have a full seven days of work with Tolzien at practice, and will look to get a connection going on Sunday. If they can’t, I’m sure they will feel comfortable with Flynn coming in and still play well.
The receiving core will go up against the Giants' secondary that consists of Corey Webster, Prince Amukamara, Ryan Mundee and Antrel Rolle. This secondary of the Giants has not played well this season, but did play much better this past week against the Raiders. They allowed just 122 yards in the air and intercepted Terrelle Pryor once, while also forcing him to lose a fumble.
The Giants' secondary proved last week that they can be productive and are starting to come together as a whole unit. The Packers' receivers will be tested and must get off the line quickly to ease Tolzien into the offense and try to find a rhythm.
2. Tramon Williams vs. Victor Cruz
Switching gears from the Packers receivers, the next matchup that everyone should have a close eye on is the competition between Giants receiver Victor Cruz and Packers cornerback Tramon Williams.
It has been a strange year for both Williams and Cruz. Williams has struggled dearly defending the pass and has no interceptions. He has had chances to jump several routes, but looks a step slow,and because of that, he is getting beat down the field, and it has happened way too often. Williams has always been one of the guys Dom Capers has relied on, and he must start to step up and get back to his old ways if the defense is going to stop anyone in the air.
Cruz also has had an off year for his standards. He only has four touchdowns on the season, and has a ways to go to get to his 10 scores last year. A reason for his struggles is certainly the poor play by Manning early in the season, but regardless, any Giants fan surely expects more.
Something’s got to give in the matchup between Williams and Cruz this Sunday. For Packers fans, I’m sure they hope to see Williams doing the high step into the end zone this week, but if that is going to happen, he must keep Cruz in front of him and play the ball much better while it is in the air.
1. Green Bay Packers' O-Line vs. New York Giants' Front Four
The No. 1 matchup to watch this Sunday has been the matchup that has allowed the Giants to dominate the Packers the past few seasons (including playoffs). I'm clearly talking about the Packers' offensive line against the Giants' front four.
It is pretty obvious to any Giants fan that the dominant front four they have had for several seasons is no longer in tact. However, they are starting to find a groove and are getting after the quarterback much more frequently over the past few weeks. They may be without Jason Pierre-Paul this week, but with depth accumulating, he may not be dearly missed.
The Packers will have their hands full no matter who is out on the field for the Giants, and with some starters on the injury report, it may get tougher. Both Evan Dietrich-Smith and Don Barclay are on the injury report with knee injuries and currently stand questionable to play. If they cannot go, the Packers' offensive line will be shifted dramatically and some players may be forced into playing a position they are not accustomed to.
This matchup between lines will test the Packers and Giants. With a third string quarterback under center, the Packers will rely on better pass protection, while the Giants will certainly pin their ears back and try to create havoc in the pocket.