These types of things never work out, especially when you’re talking about the New York Giants. They seem to take a particular and peculiar joy in turning predictions on their ear and doing exactly the opposite of what you think might happen.
So then, am I left to try to predict what will happen based on the history of the two teams. That, or I have to try to game fate and predict based on the opposite of what should happen.
Odell Beckham Jr. Will Silence The Critics
If there’s one thing that Greek tragedies have taught me, its that if you try to game the fates, the fates will smack you down.
This game sets up well for Odell Beckham to take over a game in a way in which we know he is capable. The Packers’ pass defense is already porous and will be weakened by injury, so if the offensive line can keep Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers and Nick Perry off Eli Manning long enough to get the ball to Beckham, he should be able to run wild.
Will the Packers adopt the tactic of taunting him to try and throw Beckham off his game? Maybe, but it’s something one of the best in the league cautions against.
Honestly, it’s difficult. It’s really a case-by-case basis because if you go at a player like that, it can go one of two ways: He’ll either get more frustrated and get further off his game — which we’ve seen with Odell — or he could turn around and smoke a guy for 200 yards, and you just woke up a sleeping dragon. You’ve seen that with Odell, too. People talk about how he got into it with Josh Norman last season, but Odell caught the game-tying touchdown pass in the fourth quarter of that game after making a 40-yard catch a few plays earlier. So you can talk all you want and do all that extra stuff, but at the end of the day you still gotta line up and go at it.
(Richard Sherman answering a Mailbag question for The Players’ Tribune)
I’m not going to predict exact stats, but anyone spouting the noise the OBJ is more trouble than he’s worth will look even more foolish.
The Giants Will Get A Sack, But It Won’t Come From The DL
I generally don’t have a complaint about the defense, though the tendency to lose defensive backs to injury sucks. When the secondary was healthy, I liked what Steve Spagnuolo was able to do. He was calling blitzes with audacious disguises because he trusted his talented secondary to sprint into position and hold up.
The one thing I haven’t been a fan of is his apparent refusal to rotate his defensive linemen. Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul have both played well over 200 more snaps than Owamagbe Odighizuwa, and John Hankins has played 160 more snaps than Jay Bromley. The starters are talented and well conditioned, but they’re still very large men doing a lot of hard work. The starters have looked gassed by the end of games and haven’t seemed to have the ability (or maybe energy) to quickly convert pressure into sacks.
But, they are very good at commanding blockers — while the Green Bay offense is in the middle of the pack in terms of keeping their quarterback upright. If the secondary can instill enough trust in Spags to blitz with any sort of regularity, I think at least one will get home.
The Giants Will Give The Packers A Run For Their Money
Just for a bit of double-entendre (and a bonus prediction) I do think the Giants will fare better running the ball against the Packers than any other team this year. Just 85 yards on the ground would double Green Bay’s yards per game average. But while the Giants could well remain efficient carrying the ball, I don’t think they’ll run the ball with enough volume to have a truly impressive day on the ground.
But for my main prediction here:
Any time the Giants have come up against a team that is supposed to trounce them, even over the past three rebuilding years, they have risen to the occasion. Even if only to have a lack of talent or poor coaching decisions let them down at the end of the game.
Last year they took the undefeated New England Patriots down to the wire (a one-point loss), coming a dropped interception, or even a blown coverage, from getting the win. They even gave the NFC Champion Carolina Panthers all they could handle (a three-point loss).
The Giants now have the talent to hang with any team in the league — at least when healthy. What they haven’t had are complete games, where the the whole team at least plays close to their potential. Will they finally put it all together and pull out the kind of win that lets the young players on the team know that they CAN win and stop skids when things go wrong?
That remains to be seen.
But I do think this game will be closer than many are predicting.