Who’d have thought we’d be here? The Packers are hanging on by a thread, their season sustained only by hope in a 26-year old undrafted quarterback who, until last Sunday, had never thrown a pass in a game that mattered. They’re without their most dynamic receiver, their best tight end, and much of their production on the offensive side of the ball is based on a the bruising, bashing running of a rookie tailback. Again, I feel compelled to ask: who’d have thought we’d be here?
But despite the season feeling very nearly lost, I don’t find myself with a particularly discouraged demeanor. I’ve been a fan of the Packers since I was six years old, and I can never remember a season remotely resembling this one.
We’re living through a season that’s virtually unprecedented in the nearly 100 year history of the Green Bay Packers. Sure, it’s never a good thing to be down to your third string quarterback, but you’ve got to admit, it’s certainly interesting, if only because it’s unusual.
I’d encourage my fellow Packers fans to enjoy the ride as we embark on the first start of the Scott Tolzien-era. Will it be frustrating? You bet. Will they probably lose? Yeah, almost certainly. Is it unique and different? Yep, and I think that’s fun. Wee watch sports to see unusual, unexpected things happen (or I do, at least), and you can say just about anything about this season, but you can’t say it’s been anything you’d have expected. I’m just excited to see what unexpected things happen this week.
5 – Touchdowns, against seven interceptions, in Eli Manning‘s last five games. Manning has always been pretty turnover prone, throwing an interception on 3.3% of his passes for his career (compared to just 1.7% for Aaron Rodgers), and he’s been throwing interceptions at a terrific clip so far this year too, tossing 16 interceptions in nine games. That said, he’s only thrown one in his last three games, and the Packers have been especially interception averse this year, which might help Manning get back on track.
4 – Meetings between the Packers and Giants since the Giants beat Brett Favre and the Packers at Lambeau Field during the 2007 playoffs. In those four games, both teams have each won twice, but the Giants have come up with the bigger wins, scoring a second playoff win over the Packers in 2011 and a 38-10 beat down last season. Will the Packers score a big one of their own?
3 – Different starting quarterbacks for the Packers in the last three weeks, the first time the Packers have started a different man at quarterback in three consecutive weeks since 1987. Here’s hoping we don’t see Matt Flynn under center next week to make it an even four.
2 – Giants receivers averaging 15 yards per reception or better: Hackeem Nicks and Reuben Randle. Despite their poor record, the Giants have shown they can move the ball, and we haven’t even mentioned Victor Cruz, a big play threat unto himself. The Packers weak secondary might be in for another on Sunday.
1 – Packers players with more than three sacks this year: defensive lineman Mike Daniels with 4.5. Raise your hand if you saw that coming. Now put it back down because you’re a liar. The Packers pass rush has been productive, but it’s been inconsistent. Hopefully as Clay matthews returns from his injury, a measure of that consistency will return.
Last Time – Giants: 38 Packers: 10 – November 25, 2005
Nothing went right for the Packers as the Giants dismantled the Packers quite handily. New York sacked Aaron Rodgers five times, intercepted him once, and cruised to an easy win. Fortunately, the Packers don’t have to rely on Aaron Rodgers this week with Scott Tolzien at the helm. (Someone help me, I’m saying crazy things.)
Meet a Giant – Victor Cruz – 6’0″, 204 lbs – WR – 4th NFL Season
Cruz has been the definition of a big play receiver since he exploded for 1,536 yards in his second season, averaging 18.7 yards per catch along the way. He’s yet to match that number, but that makes him no less dangerous. He’ll be a handful for the Packers this weekend.
The Giants will win if…
…Eli Manning manages to continue his recent success at avoiding turnovers, which likely will not be a problem against a Packers secondary that seems all too willing to avoid producing turnovers of any kind.
The Packers will win if…
…Scott Tolzien produces a game for the ages. If Tolzien can go on the road, playing without Randall Cobb, Jermichael Finley, and possibly at least one offensive lineman, it could be one of the more exciting moments in Packers history. If not, well, it’ll probably be just about what everyone expects, and may not be that disappointing.
The Pick – Giants: 30 Packers: 17
As much as I’d love to see Mr. Tolzien rally the troops and get a big win on the road, I’m going to have to see him win a game before I believe he can do it, and I don’t think we’re going to see him do it on the road against a relatively stout Giants defense.
The Rest (home team in ALL CAPS)
Due to vacation-related complications, the picks segment will be discontinued for the rest of the season. I’ve missed too many weeks to make it up now. Sorry folks.
Tweet of the Week
A double feature this week! (Or is that a double Tweet-ure? PUNS! I got ’em!)
First, Sam Barrington bought a snake and he needs your help.
Second, we’ve all been there, Micah Hyde.