A strong start has quickly turned sour for the New York Giants. After winning their first two games of the 2016 NFL season, the team heads into their Week 5 matchup with the Green Bay Packers on a two-game losing streak.
The Giants followed up their season opener victory against the Dallas Cowboys with a win over the New Orleans Saints at MetLife Stadium. New York was handed their first loss by the Washington Redskins in Week 3, and they closed out Week 4 with a one-sided defeat to the Minnesota Vikings. Now, they head to Lambeau Field for another prime-time matchup, facing the Packers on “Sunday Night Football.”
New York has had issues on both sides of the ball, and many of their problems have come from an offense that’s underachieved. The Giants added weapons this offseason—namely a healthy Victor Cruz and rookie wide receiver Sterling Shepard—to a unit that was sixth in scoring a year ago, but it hasn’t translated into points. New York ranks 27th in the NFL with just 18.3 points per game.
The team’s loss to the Redskins was the only instance in which they scored more than 20 points, but the offense made key mistakes in that contest with a fumble by Shane Vereen and two interceptions from Eli Manning. Much has been made of Odell Beckham’s inability to control his emotions during games, and it might be hurting his production.
Beckham entered the season as an elite wide receiver and arguably one of the league’s top five playmakers. After averaging 102 yards per game in his first two seasons, Beckham is averaging just 76 yards per game in 2016. He scored 25 touchdowns in his first 27 games, but he’s been kept out of the end zone through four games this year.
Beckham’s antics hurt the Giants on Monday night, as they’ve done in the past, when he received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Despite all of the discussion surrounding the receiver, he isn’t too concerned going forward.
“When you're at the top of your game, they're gonna try and knock you off,” Beckham told reporters on Monday. “What are you going to do? You gonna back down or are you gonna stand up? And I've never been one to back down. So I'm gonna stand up, we're gonna work to get better.”
Catching just three passes for 23 yards against the Vikings will probably end up being Beckham’s low mark of the season. He’s too talented to play this poorly for much longer, and New York’s opponent on Monday had more to do with his performance than anything. Minnesota might have the league’s best defense, and they’ve already shut down both Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton, maybe the NFC’s best quarterbacks.
A week after the Vikings held the Packers to 14 points and Rodgers to a season-low 70.7 passer rating, Green Bay scored 31 points as the quarterback threw four touchdown passes. Manning could have a similar bounce-back performance against Green Bay. Only three teams have allowed a worse opponents’ passer rating than the Packers.
While Manning entered Monday’s game with bad career numbers against Minnesota, he historically plays well against Green Bay. New York has three straight wins against the Packers, and Manning has 10 touchdown passes and three interceptions in the Giants’ last four matchups with Green Bay.
If New York’s trio of wide receivers can get the better of Green Bay’s secondary, the Giants will put up a lot of points. Manning should have time to throw, considering he wasn’t sacked once against the NFC’s best pass rush. Twenty-three other quarterbacks have been sacked more than Manning in 2016.
The Giants’ biggest challenge will be stopping Rodgers and the Packers’ offense.
Adding three high-priced free agents this past offseason, New York’s defense looked to be worth every penny in their two wins. But injuries have ravaged the secondary, and it might not be healthy enough to slow down Green Bay’s two-time MVP winner under center.
It’s unknown how healthy cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will be, and his absence was felt against Minnesota. The Giants allowed Kirk Cousins to post a 106.4 passer rating in the previous week, and their inability to get to the quarterback is making it more and more difficult for them to stop the pass. They are tied for last in the league with four sacks, and New York is last with just one takeaway.
New York has a chance to outscore Green Bay and push the final score well past the over/under of 48 points. The Giants should be able to cover the seven-point betting line that’s listed at Las Vegas and online sportsbooks.
But the Packers have the slight edge at home after two weeks to prepare because of their Week 4 bye.
Prediction: Green Bay over New York, 34-31