Behind Enemy Lines: Green Bay Packers v. Giants in London

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) and running back Saquon Barkley (26) celebrate Jones' first touchdown in the first half at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, in East Rutherford.Nfl Ny Giants Vs Chicago Bears
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) and running back Saquon Barkley (26) celebrate Jones' first touchdown in the first half at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, in East Rutherford.Nfl Ny Giants Vs Chicago Bears /

The 3-1 Green Bay Packers are traveling to London to take on the 3-1 New York Giants this week.

As always, to help prepare for the upcoming matchup, I’ve called on some help. Desmond Novack of G-Men HQ was kind enough to answer five of my questions about this Giants team to provide us with some insights. I, of course, provided my thoughts along the way as well.

What has been the strength of this Giants team, leading to the 3-1 start?

Desmond: The run game, undoubtedly. The Giants are the first in the league in rushing yards by a good margin. Obviously, Saquon Barkley is the number one reason for this, he makes plays I’ve honestly never seen before out of a running back. He’s a truly special talent, and I’m very glad to have him back. Outside of that, our offensive line in the run game has done a tremendous job at helping Barkley break off these big runs he is known for.

Thoughts: Saquon Barkley is averaging 5.5 yards per rush this season and has been incredibly difficult to bring down. The Green Bay Packers, meanwhile, have taken their lumps against the run game at times, most recently last week against New England.

Matt LaFleur mentioned that he would like to see the defense be more physical against the run and also more willing to come out of their cover-2 shell in obvious running situations to put an extra defender in the box. While those are adjustments Joe Barry can make, the players have to be better as well. Missed tackles, run fits, shedding blocks, and setting the edge have all been issues this season.

On the flip side, what is their major weakness through four games?

Desmond: I know I said the offensive line did a good job at helping Barkley, but in all honesty, their pass protection has just been awful so far this year. The only bright spot yet again is Andrew Thomas; both Feliciano and Glowinski have been disappointing in the pass game.

As for Evan Neal, he’s had his ups and downs, but I’m not worried about him at all. I can go on all day about how special of a prospect he is. Anyways, the offensive line hasn’t been doing Daniel Jones any favor in the pass game, which is why after the Dallas disaster, we saw the Giants initiate a lot more play-action and rollout plays for Jones.

Thoughts: According to Pro Football Reference, the Giants have allowed pressure 35.9% of the time, which is the highest rate in the NFL–although Daniel Jones has not gotten the ball out very quickly. On the flip side, the Green Bay Packers have been one of the best in the NFL at getting after the quarterback.

The Green Bay offense can play a big role in slowing the Giants’ offense down by getting up on the scoreboard early on. This will force New York to lean more on the passing game and allow the Packers’ pass rush to tee off on the Giants’ offensive line. Aaron Rodgers mentioned this was what Green Bay was hoping to do this past Sunday against New England but failed to do so.

What is different about this year’s Giants team under Brian Daboll? How has he gotten them off to a fast start?

Desmond: The energy, the playcalling, really everything. I respect Joe Judge a lot, but we all know how questionable of a coach he was for us, especially his staff. Whether it be Jason Garrett or Freddie Kitchens, they very clearly did not know how to utilize this offense, and so far in the season, Daboll is already proving that he knows what to do. He brings a certain “no BS” energy that I love to see out of a coach, especially considering what we, as a fan base, have dealt with in the past. You can tell these players respect and are behind Daboll a lot more than they ever were with Judge, and as a fan, I am very happy about that.

Thoughts: Like the Green Bay Packers, head coach Brian Daboll has this Giants team winning some nail-biters early on this season. Offensively, they lean heavily on the run game, with the fourth-most attempts per game in the NFL.

Then on defense under Wink Martindale, the giants are a very blitz-heavy team, ranking first in that category, which puts them among the best in generating quarterback pressures. On the back end, the Giants run a mix of man and zone coverages, with the defensive backs moving around frequently to disguise what they’re doing.

"“They got a good front on both sides,” said Rodgers on Wednesday. “Wink is a great coach. There are a lot of different things he’ll throw at you. So you’ve got to be ready for a lot of different coverages, themes of the week, pressures, it’s a big challenge for us.”"

Who is one player on offense and one on defense that Green Bay Packers fans may not be as familiar with but could have an impact on Sunday’s game?

Offense: Richie James

James has been absolutely electric for the Giants so far this season. With Shepard tearing his ACL, Golladay and Slayton being useless, and the injuries to both Wan’Dale and Toney, James has been forced to step up into the WR1 or WR2 spot, and he has played tremendously. In addition to this, he has also proven to be a very solid player in the return game. Definitely a weapon for the Packers’ defense to look out for.

Defense: Fabian Moreau

We signed Moreau to the practice squad earlier in the season, and due to both Aaron Robinson and Cor’Dale Flott sustaining injuries, he’s been forced to step up. In the games he’s played in, Moreau has looked really good. The Giants desperately need this level of play to continue if they want to see more success in the secondary because, in all honesty, the secondary hasn’t looked too bright this season.

Thoughts: James has been a very efficient target this season, catching 15 of his 19 passes at 10.3 yards per catch per PFF ($$). He plays from the slot, which may mean Keisean Nixon will be on him for much of the game unless Jaire Alexander is able to return, and most of his targets come within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. He’s also been a favorite target of Daniel Jones on third downs.

Moreau, meanwhile, has been targeted just eight times in three games, allowing four receptions at 14.0 yards per catch. He also has two pass breakups. As is customary with this Giants’ defense under Martindale, the defensive backs are moved around, so Moreau has seen time on the boundary as well as in the slot and in the box.

As Desmond mentions, the New York secondary has struggled, so the offensive line’s ability to pick up blitzes and give Rodgers time could lead to some opportunities in the passing game, particularly downfield.

What is your prediction, and how do you see things playing out?

Desmond: This is a really interesting game because the Giants have been surprisingly good, and despite the Packers’ 3-1 start, we’ve seen some struggles from that team. It really depends on the health of players like Evan Neal, Daniel Jones, Azeez Ojulari, etc. If these players are good, we could be in for a really fun game.

It’ll be difficult for the Giants, as players like Rashan Gary, Kenny Clark, and Preston Smith are all really scary to play against on the defensive front. In all honesty, I have the Packers winning this one, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Giants pulled off another surprising win. Regardless, it’ll be a fun game to watch.

Thoughts: There is a bit of unknown that comes with this game, given the travel for both teams. As Matt LaFleur has said on a few occasions this week, the team that handles the travel the best is going to put themselves in the best position to win.

I see this being another hard-fought game for Green Bay. The run defense will take some lumps, and the offense will struggle to move the ball at times against this New York defense. However, the Green Bay Packers have the more well-rounded roster and the advantage at quarterback.

Green Bay Packers 24 – New York Giants 17