How to Argue (and Win) that Packers Will Withstand Giants’ Pass Attack.
1. The Giants have a below-average passing attack – they ranked 17th in passing yardage on the year, lowest of the six remaining NFC teams, other than (run-oriented) Dallas.
2. The Giants have only one receiving threat – yes, Odell Beckham Jr. ranked third in yardage, but WR2 Sterling Shepard was 60th, WR3 Victor Cruz was 80th, and WR4 Roger Lewis, Jr. was 269th.
3. Giants’ tight end Will Tye is terrible, ranking 64 out of 66 tight ends by Pro Football Focus.
4. The Giants’ primary running back isn’t a receiving threat. Rashad Jennings ranks 43rd among RBs as a receiver by PFF.
5. Quarterback Eli Manning was good way back when, but this is now. His passer rating of 86.0 ranks 22nd, and among the 12 playoff team quarterbacks (counting injured Derek Carr) he bested only Houston’s Brock Osweiler.
6. Manning is a turnover nightmare. His 16 interceptions is the fourth most in the league – and let’s throw in his seven fumbles for good measure.
7. Manning doesn’t spread the field. At 6.73 yards per pass attempt, he’s 26th in the league, while it’s been the intermediate and deep balls that have proved most troublesome for Packers’ DBs.
8. Manning is no longer accurate. Even with his short-pass attack, his completion percentage is only 63.0, putting him in 17th place for this metric.
9. Manning is extremely one-dimensional. On the year he has run 21 times, for a loss of nine yards.
10. The Packers’ defense can largely ignore the run. The Giants ranked 29th in rushing yards per game this year.
11. The Giants’ pass protectors are hum-drum. PFF rates none of the front five elite, the left guard “high quality,” the center “above average,” the right guard “average,” and both tackles “poor.”
12. The Giants’ receiving core isn’t focused, disciplined, or gearing up for a playoff run. The team’s top four wide receivers, after beating the Redskins on Sunday, began preparing for the Packers by jetting off to Miami to party with Justin Bieber.
13. The Packers matched up well defensively in its October 9 defeat of the Giants. Manning was held to 199 gross passing yards (and 178 net), he was sacked four times, and he converted only four of 13 third downs.
14. In the earlier game against the Giants receivers, OBJ was thrown to 12 times, but came away with only five catches and 56 yards, Sterling Shepard had two catches for 14 yards, and Victor Cruz was shut out.
15. In the earlier matchup, Manning’s primary target was RB Bobby Rainey, with six catches for 54 yards – but the Giants’ current starting RB is much less adept as a receiver.
16. Though an already-vulnerable defensive backfield lost no less than three cornerbacks during Sunday’s game at Detroit, they still allowed only 17 points until the final 22 seconds of the game – and that was against an opponent with a better-rated (compared to the Giants) passing offense (11th vs. 17th) and a better overall offense (21st vs. 25th).
Like I said, for a defensive secondary in the midst of an epidemic of injuries, the Packers have drawn the best opponent they could hope for.
A lot of times it hasn’t been pretty this year, but he Packers’ DBs — led by veterans Morgan Burnett and Micah Hyde, showed us how to cope with adversity on Sunday. Whoever Green Bay sends out to man the defensive secondary, and in whatever position they might be forced to play, I believe this versatile and dogged (I didn’t say talented) group will do what is needed to win.