Here’s a preview of what to watch for when the Green Bay Packers host the New York Giants for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff Sunday.
1. Can the Packers' young secondary match up with the Giants’ pass catchers?
With cornerback Sam Shields a good bet to miss yet another game, Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins and LaDarius Gunter will be tasked with covering the Giants’ electric wide receiving corps.
Odell Beckham Jr, Victor Cruz and rookie Sterling Shepard are as talented as any group of pass catchers the Packers have faced this season. The Packers are 30th in the league against No. 1 receivers by Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric. And they are 29th against No. 2 receivers.
While Green Bay’s secondary has certainly been a MASH unit at times, one constant has been the inconsistent-to-downright-poor play of Randall and Rollins. Sunday night presents a stiff test for a young group that needed the bye week to reset their game.
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2.Teacher vs. student: McCarthy and McAdoo.
Giants coach Ben McAdoo made no secret about the fact that he was bringing Mike McCarthy’s offense to New York when he was named Giants offensive coordinator two years ago. Since succeeding Tom Coughlin as coach during the offseason, McAdoo has held onto the play-calling duties, much like his mentor McCarthy,
McAdoo was brought up, professionally speaking, in Green Bay. The only reason he was able to advance to the upper echelon of the coaching ranks was because the Giants had an opening right when his contract was ending with the Packers.
McAdoo made the smart decision to jump at the offer to coordinate an offense in one of the league’s biggest markets, but so far, the returns on his McCarthy-inspired offense have been mixed. Giants fans and the media that cover the team certainly aren’t impressed, and he’s done little to show he was the right man to take over for Tom Coughlin.
None of that will mean anything, as far as McAdoo is concerned, if he is able to bring his team into Lambeau on Sunday night and beat McCarthy. Expect the Giants’ best shot.
3. Can the Packers snap the Giants’ winning streak against them?
There’s really no other way to look at it: The Packers have had issues with the Giants the last few years.
McCarthy’s team has dropped three in a row to the G-Men. Even worse for the Packers, the Giants twice have rolled into Lambeau Field against McCarthy during the playoffs and ended the Packers' season.
Yes, that was while Coughlin was the coach. And much of the personnel will be different when the Giants and Packers meet Sunday night under the lights. But make no mistake, the Giants will not feel the least bit intimidated coming into Lambeau Field on a short week trying to knock off a team that their franchise has fared pretty well against the last few years.
It’s up to McCarthy and the Packers to show the Giants that things are different this year, not only against the Giants but also in Lambeau Field, where Green Bay uncharacteristically struggled last season.
Beating the Lions in their home opener was one thing. The Packers need to win this game to start rebuilding the Lambeau mystique.