On Sunday, the Packers meet an old playoff nemesis, the New York Giants. Ed Valentine of Big Blue View was kind enough to answer some questions about the Giants and provide some insight into their strengths and weaknesses.
APC: The offensive line that the Giants will run out this Sunday has changed significantly from the unit the Packers last saw in 2011. What big personnel changes have been made and how well is the line playing?
The offensive line has been one of the Giants' biggest issues. Even when the season started there were problems, and since that time starting center David Baas and starting right guard Chris Snee have gone on IR. Rookie right tackle Justin Pugh has been playing pretty well, but he draws Clay Matthews on Sunday. This is an area the Giants need to continue to address in the offseason.
APC: Eli Manning is on pace for his worst season statistically since his first two years in the NFL. What is he doing differently than in past years, and where can defenses take advantage?
See what I said about the offensive line. Issues there, the fact that the Giants have started eight different running backs and some mis-communications with wide receivers have all been problematic. Eli has always been a quarterback willing to take a risk -- and anyone who watches a lot of NFL games knows many quarterbacks won't. Eli has made some poor decisions, but I really think better play around him is the biggest thing he needs.
APC: Even at 3-6, the Giants are just two games out of first place in the division. Is it realistic for New York to win the NFC East?
Amazingly, at least mathematically, yes. The Giants have a game with the Dallas Cowboys in a week and have to play the Washington Redskins twice down the stretch. I don't see any evidence that anyone in this division is capable of winning more than eight, maybe nine, games. It's still a long shot, but the Giants can at least be hopeful. Unless, of course, they lose to the Packers.
APC: Unlike in recent seasons, the Giants have struggled to find a consistent pass rush. Is this simply due to injuries, or are there other factors at play here?
Well, primarily it's been about Jason Pierre-Paul. He is their best player and, unfortunately, hasn't played like it. He had offseason back surgery, missed all of training camp and the preseason, and last week was the first time all season he looked like himself. Unfortunately, he is questionable Sunday because of a shoulder injury. JPP is the one real pass-rushing difference maker they have. The other guys are complementary.
APC: Finally, it's prediction time. Who wins on Sunday and why?
Giants, 20-17. The Giants are 6-point favorites, and I would not take that bet. I do think they win, however. This team is far from perfect and I don't see this as a high-scoring game. The best thing about the Giants is their resolve, however. They have really begun to believe that they actually can get back into the race. I think they do just enough Sunday to get a win.
We'd like to thank Ed and Big Blue View for answering our questions. Be sure to check out our Q&A session over there as well as their fantastic coverage of all things Giants. As always, keep your internet machines tuned to Acme Packing Company this Sunday for our comprehensive game day coverage of Packers vs. Giants.