The Giants (0-1) square off with the Green Bay Packers (1-0) Sunday in a game Big Blue really needs to win.
As we will try to do every week, I traded 5 questions with Brandon from our fine Packers blog, 'Acme Packing Company.'
Uh, by the way Brandon, how come your site logo is nicer than mine?
Anyway, here are the questions and answers.
1. BBV: The Packers have three players who were recently Giants -- Ryan Grant, Frank Walker and Charles Peprah. Will any of them play key roles on Sunday?
APC: Nope. Grant is the 3rd running back, but nursing a sore hamstring and would only play if something happened to rookies Brandon Jackson and DeShawn Wynn. Walker is currently the 6th cornerback. Peprah would play if something happened to either starting safety, Nick Collins and Atari Bigby (seriously, that's his name).
2. BBV: Admittedly, I don't know the Packers roster very well. Other than Favre, who are the key players Giants fans should be aware of Sunday?
APC: Most people shouldn't be familiar with the Packers roster. Since Ted Thompson took over as GM in early 2005, he has turned over nearly the entire roster with draft choices, street free agents with some practice squad experience, and undrafted rookie free agents. The only big name free agent signed in the last three years was Charles Woodson in 2006 who has actually been a very solid addition. The defense is far and away the best unit on the team, and the best player on defense is DE Aaron Kampman. His game is all hustle, but he is an every down player who had 89 tackles and 15.5 sacks in 2006.
3. BBV: How has Favre looked? It seems like we've been hearing 'he's not the Favre of old' for years now. Does he have enough left to get the Packers to the playoffs?
APC: Last week, he fired a bullet 10 yards downfield to his tight end, between a couple of defenders while he was being sacked, so he's still got the great arm. He's been an above average QB for the last several seasons, but has a tendency to overthrow his receivers. The Giants might do well by giving all the receivers some cushion and waiting for Favre to overthrow it right to them. Despite his 17 seasons he will never be seen as that steady veteran who is a good game manager and makes few mistakes. He's still a gunslinger who throws first and thinks about it later. His last great season was 2004, when he played alongside four Pro Bowl players plus WR Donald Driver had a 1000 yard season. He still had Driver in 2006, but he also had to start alongside the worst receiving tight end (Bubba Franks) and one of the top 5 worst wide receivers (Greg Jennings) according to Football Outsiders, plus three rookies started on the offensive line. He's no Superman and like any QB he plays a lot better alongside better teammates.
4. BBV: Giants fans love the fact that Green Bay defeated the Eagles last Sunday. Was that a huge upset, or do you think the Packers are a playoff-caliber team?
APC: It was a huge win for them. Last season, they got blown out by good teams. Seven of their eight 2006 wins came against teams with a combined record of 27-53 (beating Minnesota and Detroit twice). The only playoff team they beat was Chicago in week 17 after Chicago had clinched home field advantage. Rex Grossman admitted that he hadn't even prepared for the game (but with him how can you tell). Last week was a close game by two evenly matched teams that Philadelphia could have won if their special teams hadn't fumbled two critical punt returns. If the offense can become adequate, the special teams already looks better, the defense is outstanding, they play an easier schedule due to a weak NFC North and they play Oakland and Kansas City this year, and they should be a playoff team in 2007.
5. BBV: The New York Yankees are replacing Yankee Stadium, the most historic stadium in baseball. Lambeau Field is probably the NFL equivalent. Is there any consideration being given to replacing it or building a new one?
APC: Done! The Packers got a county sales tax passed in 2000 and the $300 million renovation was finished before the 2003 started. If you look at Lambeau on TV, the only notable change is the ring of luxury boxes that surround the stadium, however the biggest addition was the attached atrium that allows them to hold events at the stadium year-round indoors.
Thanks, Brandon! Be sure to head over to cheesehead country to see what Brandon wanted to know about Big Blue.