As this week has progressed, I’ve heard time and again from several corners of the web that the Giants are going to beat the Packers at Lambeau this weekend. Even though Vegas has the Packers as 7 point favorites, the Giants are the sexy pick for several people.
I have several reason why I feel the Packers can and will win this weekend.
Green Bay has the most creative offensive mind this side of Bill Belichick. They’ll throw everything from the Cheese Spread Offense (a 5 wide set) to an inverted wishbone (w/2 FBs) at the opponent. At other times, they’ll overload the line and just plain beat you.
Offensive Backfield:Beside the wily veteran under center, they have a backfield that can knock you out. Ryan Grant has incredible vision and can just explode through a hole. Multiple times this season, he sent defenders to the sideline injured when they tried to tackle him. He is learning to trust his blockers as well so he has become much more patient, waiting for a sliver of a hole to burst through. With Korey Hall and John Kuhn, Green Bay has two fullbacks that will knock the defender right out of the play. Hall, a converted linebacker, is really learning his role and looks to be developing into a Pro-Bowl caliber player. The running game is only getting better.
The offensive line has been struggling with the zone blocking approach all season but it looks like this group is starting to gel. Colledge is a force in the running game but his footwork is slow and he’s weak in the passing game. The other starters are quite capable. If Colledge can hold his own in pass blocking, he and the group of Clifton, Wells, Spitz and Tauscher (with tight ends Donald Lee and Bubba Franks), will open many a hole for Grant and give Favre the time he needs to find one of the Fab5
This group of wide outs goes five deep with players that could be starters on other NFL teams. They call themselves the Fab Five and they led the league in YAC in 2007. Driver (67% Catch Percenatge), Jennings (63%), Jones (59%), Martin (57%), and Robinson (62%) promise to give the depleted Giants secondary fits.
With Lee (76%) taking over at tight end for the tree formerly known as Bubba Franks, Green Bay finally has some YAC potential from that position that they haven’t seen in years.
McCarthy has instilled the proper attitude as all Packer receivers have chosen to give up personal glory for the greater good. Every one of them excels at downfield blocking in the running game.
Defensive Front Seven:
At the beginning of the year, I called this group the Packers’ greatest strength. Now, this is probably the weakest the unit on the team. Their core has been decimated by injury. Colin Cole and Johnny Jolly are both on IR and several others are hobbled. Jolly is a run stuffing machine who was good as a role player. He will be sorely missed against the likes of Brandon Jacobs. The rookie, Justin Herrell is finding his own, but he has a lot to learn. The interior defense has gotten healthier over the bye, but I reserve judgment until I see them against the likes of Jacobs and co.
Secondary:The Packers’ cornerbacks will set the tone early against the Giants. They bring physical play to a whole new level. McCarthy and (Defensive Coordinator) Bob Sanders have basically chosen to let their guys be aggressive with the assumption that the reward is enough to outweigh the risk of a defensive penalty. Most NFL receivers don’t like it when the CB gets up in their face and starts knocking them around.
Bigby, Collins, and Rouse are all weak in pass coverage but are guaranteed to bring the lumber if any receivers try to cross the middle. If Shockey were healthy, this would be an area that the Giants would look to exploit. Will they with Boss at TE?
The addition of Tramon Williams has dramatically improved the return unit. The overall special teams performance this season has been greatly improved relative to recent seasons. This is a reflection of the youth and depth that T^2 has worked so hard to create.
All in all, the Packers will have plenty of opportunity to win this one handily.
Catch Percentage Statistics courtesy of Football Outsiders