The New York Giants couldn't catch a break during the first six weeks of the 2013 NFL regular season, but they've been in the right place at the right time quite often ever since. Sunday, they'll have a chance to move one step closer to becoming the first team to ever start 0-6 before making the playoffs by merely taking care of business against a Green Bay Packers team that has been ravaged by injuries.
The injury that completely turns this game in New York's favor, though, is the one Aaron Rodgers is dealing with. Rodgers will miss his second straight start Sunday at MetLife Stadium due to a broken collarbone.
On the road against a defense that has surrendered just 13 points in three weeks and without the game's all-time highest-rated quarterback, the Packers have become five-point Vegas underdogs against a Giants team that leads the NFL in turnovers and has yet to beat an opponent with a winning record. But, again, New York is on fire, especially on D, so Big Blue has landed Green Bay at the perfect moment.
Here's our final preview of the matchup, along with a prediction.
What New York must do to win, offensive edition
Limit the turnovers. Same old. Eventually, the Giants will have to rely on Eli Manning to play Superman. That doesn't have to be the case this week, so Manning merely has to make sure he doesn't blow the game with the types of mistakes he's become extremely prone to making this season.
What New York must do to win, defensive edition
Don't get cocky. There's been a lot of talk about that defense lately, and it's been making plays. But the Giants' schedule has been weak. And while Scott Tolzien isn't scaring anybody, this Green Bay team still has a very talented receiving corps. This D may have eight takeaways in three weeks, but it can't afford to start gambling, especially if its without Jason Pierre-Paul.
Five most important non-quarterbacks
Justin Tuck: Don't give Tolzien time to find those receivers, man. Pierre-Paul has already said he's not sure if he'll be able to play due to a shoulder injury, via Dave Hutchinson of the Star Ledger, and he hasn't been the same regardless as a result of offseason back surgery. Tuck has to lead the way up front.
Prince Amukamara: Stopping Jordy Nelson might still be real tough, and Amukamara will probably have to key that coverage.
Linval Joseph: The Packers are quietly averaging 4.8 yards per rush, which ranks fourth in football. The Giants need stellar performances up the gut from Joseph, Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson in order to limit Eddie Lacy.
Andre Brown: If Manning's going to avoid those mistakes, he'll need help from the running game to ease pressure by offering balance.
Will Beatty: And he'll also need good protection against Clay Matthews.
|Yards/game (rank)||Yards/rush (rank)|
|Packers||143.1 (6th)||4.8 (4th)|
|Giants||76.9 (29th)||3.2 (30th)|
Injury analysis, Packers edition
Have we mentioned Rodgers? OK, but that's not the only injury at play here. Matthews is just being eased back after missing four games due to a hand injury, while talented young corner Casey Hayward is back out of the lineup after suffering a hamstring injury.
Right tackle Don Barclay hasn't been practicing after suffering a knee injury Sunday against Philly, further complicating things on offense, while front-seven defenders Nick Perry (foot/ankle) and Johnny Jolly (groin) both missed practice time this week.
It's kind of a mess.
Who will win Sunday?
Injury analysis, Giants edition
JPP was limited in Friday's practice, according to Connor Orr of the Newark Star-Ledger. The Giants defense has been playing so well lately because it has finally been getting sacks. If Pierre-Paul can't go, it'll make that a little harder.
B/R NFC East blog prediction: Giants 21, Packers 10
No Rodgers and a banged-up defense is good news for the streaking Giants. Make that four straight wins for the G-Men.