Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers says there is no "recipe" for defeating the 11-0 defending Super Bowl champions, who come to MetLife Stadium Sunday to face the barely breathing 6-5 New York Giants.
"I don't believe you can say there's a recipe to beat us when we haven't been beaten yet. I think there are ideas, maybe on how you can get after us," Rodgers said.
So, two questions. What are some of those "ideas?" More importantly for the Giants, do they have the ability to execute those ideas.
Well, let's examine what some of those ideas are and maybe the answer to the second question will crystallize while we do that.
First, some stats.
Offensively, Green Bay leads the league in points per game (34.7), yards per play (6.6) and total points (382). They are second in the league behind San Francisco is turnover ratio at +15. They average 401.3 yards per game, fourth in the league.
Defensively, the Packers are 30th in the league allowing 393.4 yards per game. The Giants are 28th at 381.6 yards per game. The Packers, however, are only 13th in points per game allowed, at 20.6. Green Bay is 31st in the league in pass defense, allowing 287.8 yards per game -- some of which has to be attributed to the fact that since they are always ahead their opponents are always passing the ball. The Packers are 13th in the league against the the run, allowing 105.5 yards per game.
So, about those ideas.
Let's look at the offense first. It seems pretty obvious that, on paper, if the Giants are going to win this game they are going to have to do it by being perfect on offense. Likely, they are going to have to put up 30+ points to even have a chance. Can they do that?
I think they can, provided they protect Eli Manning. Yes, the Packers lead the league in interceptions with 22 -- but the number of yards allowed tells you that there are opportunities to make plays against that secondary. The Giants have to take shots down the field, and they have to capitalize on scoring opportunities -- which is something they could not do Monday night against New Orleans.
The problem, though, is that the Giants offense has to not only score, but they have to chew up first downs and keep Rodgers off the field. That means they have to run the ball, and with the league's worst averages in yards per game (83.2) and yards per carry (3.2) we know that can't be counted on.
There is a little good news there, though. Leading rusher Ahmad Bradshaw might play for the first time in five weeks, and that certainly can't hurt. Also, Chris Snee, Kareem McKenzie and Kevin Boothe played fairly well against New Orleans and there were some holes for Brandon Jacobs in the first half Monday night.
Now, on to the real problem. Can the defense do anything about Rodgers and Co. It certainly couldn't do anything about Drew Brees and the Saints, and it couldn't do anything about Rodgers last season in an embarrassing 45-17 loss.
It starts with pressure, of course. They have to hurry Rodgers, which they could not do to Brees. They have to stout against the run, which they have not always been. If they get caught in-between Rodgers will light them up all day long. Pro Football Focus data shows that Rodgers' passer rating, which is 128.1 overall, drops to 85.8 when he is under pressure. So, bring the house. Let me add one thing to that. Perry Fewell did dial up some blitzes Monday, but most of them you could see coming. How about bringing guys off the slot or the corner occasionally, or sending two blitzers through the same gap? That, by the way, is a Steve Spagnuolo trademark.
In my view, they have to play as much man-coverage as possible and take their chances. Rodgers is the most accurate passer in the league at 71.8 percent completions, and since the Giants have shown no ability to play zone doing so against Rodgers is asking for trouble. Trust Corey Webster, Aaron Ross and Prince Amukamara to cover and go after Rodgers.
Too often Monday the Giants allowed extra yardage after the catch. Tackle and make the Packers run as many plays as possible.
The Giants also need one more thing they really have not had all season -- a couple of big plays in the return game. Da'Rel Scott has gotten close the past couple of weeks on kickoff returns, and the Giants could really use a big one this week. Aaron Ross has been fine most of the year on punt returns, but his average of 7.1 yards per return is near the bottom of the league for guys who have been regular returners. Tom Coughlin talked about being "bold" this week. How about Jerrel Jernigan as punt returner bold? It's a risk, sure, but the Giants can't play it safe any longer.
So, have you guys shaken off the Monday night misery yet. Do you think the Giants have any chance on Sunday? The floor is yours.