Coming off a frustrating Week 12 loss to the Chicago Bears, the New York Giants (2-9) have a daunting task ahead of them as they look to snap a seven-game losing streak against the NFC North-leading Green Bay Packers (8-3) on Sunday afternoon.
Despite suffering a 37-8 beatdown at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers in Week 12, the Packers are viewed as an NFC Super Bowl contender. To their credit, they are also one of the more well-rounded teams in the league.
Green Bay will undoubtedly be hungry for a win after last weekend and definitely won’t take New York lightly despite their heavy-favorite status. If Giants fans truly want to know what to expect--and know how this team can win-- this weekend, a better understanding of who exactly their upcoming opponent is would go a long way.
With that in mind, here are five things that Giants fans should know about their team’s Week 13 showdown with the Green Bay Packers.
1. Green Bay is lethal in the red zone.
The Packers sit in the middle of the pack when it comes to scoring offenses (23.5 PPG, No. 13 in the NFL), but their incredible success in the red zone is a major reason why they’re sitting pretty atop the NFC North at this point in the year.
Through 11 games, Green Bay has found the end zone on 67.57 percent of its red zone drives (No. 3 in the NFL). That kind of execution when it matters most could spell doom for New York this weekend, but that rate may not be sustainable for the Packers based on their per-game opportunities.
Despite their elite execution inside their opponents’ 20-yard line, the Packers are averaging just 3.4 red zone attempts per game this year (T-No. 14 in the NFL) and their scoring opportunities inside the 20 have dwindled in recent weeks.
Over their past three games, Green Bay is averaging just 2.3 red zone attempts per contest (T-No. 22 in the NFL).
2. The Packers have been absolutely gashed on the ground.
The Packers have improved significantly in terms of scoring defense this year, averaging 22.0 points allowed per game this year (No. 14 in the NFL)--a full three points fewer than what they averaged in 2018.
However, no unit is without its weaknesses. Despite what their points allowed average would indicate, Green Bay’s defense has seriously struggled to stop the run this year, allowing a pitiful 125.5 yards rushing per game (No. 26 in the NFL) and 4.8 yards per attempt (T-No. 27 in the NFL) through 11 games.
Giants running back Saquon Barkley hasn’t looked like himself since returning from injury, but based on the above, leaning on the all-world back on Sunday would go a long way in giving the Giants a fighting chance against the Packers.
3. Losing the time of possession battle could be Green Bay’s Achilles heel.
The Packers have been one of the league’s best at keeping the ball out of their opponents’ hands, averaging 31:27 in time of possession per game (No. 9 in the NFL) due to the methodical time-consuming approach they’ve taken on offense this year.
While impressive, however, milking the clock has gone a long way in masking Green Bay’s offensive inconsistencies.
Surprisingly, the Packers have struggled to move the chains with consistency despite controlling the clock in a majority of the games they’ve played this year, and those issues only get worse when playing away from home.
Through Week 12, Green Bay is averaging just 18.0 first downs per game (No. 25 in the NFL) and have converted and abysmal 25.81 percent of their third down opportunities on the road (No. 30 in the NFL).
Factoring in the Packers shoddy run defense with the information above, a run-heavy offensive game plan could be key to a Giants upset, as dominating time of possession and sustaining long drives would leave the Packers with very little room for error with the limited opportunities they’d be given.
4. Green Bay is one of the most disciplined teams in the league.
Clearly, the Giants will need to perfectly execute offensively this weekend in order to have a fighting chance against the Packers. However, if they’re unable to sustain their drives and put points on the board, it’s highly unlikely that Green Bay will make any mistakes that allow the Giants to stick around in this one.
Discipline has been the cornerstone of the Packers’ offense this year and a big reason why they’ve dominated the time of possession battle. Through 11 games, Green Bay has turned the ball over just eight times (two interceptions, six fumbles), good for the second-best mark in the league.
Green Bay has also been one of the least penalized teams in the league, averaging 6.6 penalties per game, (No. 9 in the NFL). And on the rare occasion that the Packers do get flagged, it’s rarely for any drive-killing infractions.
Through Week 12, Green Bay is averaging just 49.0 penalty yards per game (No. 4 in the NFL) and 7.4 yards per penalty and (No. 1 in the NFL).
5. Green Bay has set the tone early and often this year.
The Packers have a few inconsistencies on both sides of the ball that the Giants can take advantage of, but the Packers have made a habit of setting the tone early. Unless New York finds a way to flip the script, Green Bay just might leave the Meadowlands with a win.
One of the best first-quarter teams in the league, Packers have come out of the gate swinging on offense in almost every game they’ve played this year, averaging 6.4 first-quarter points per game (No. 5 in the NFL).
And if the Packers score first, it definitely won’t be easy for the Giants to find their way back into the game, as Green Bay owns a 4-1 record when putting up the first points of the game.
Meanwhile, Green Bay’s defense has been just as strong as it’s offense in the early going. Heading into Week 13, the Packers’ stop unit has allowed an average of 3.5 points per first quarter (T-No. 8 in the NFL) and have pitched a shutout in the first frame of play in five of the 11 games they’ve played this year.