In their 32nd edition of the London series, the NFL has finally sent two teams with winning records across the pond (yes, this is really the first time). However, all 3-1 teams are not created equal- the Packers are off to a relatively predictable, routinely solid start, while the Giants are a fairly shocking 3-1 team at this point of the season, and they may or may not be down to their third string quarterback. Let’s take a look at the odds and make some predictions for this overseas clash.
Giants Vs. Packers Betting Odds
The Packers are, unshockingly, decently-sized favorites in this one, with lines hovering between 7 and 8 points, right around that one- to two-score game threshold. The points total is set at 41.5, which is pretty consistent with the two teams’ ability to limit opponents, and the state of their offenses.
Giants Vs. Packers Prediction
The discussion around this game really has to begin with the most important position in sports- quarterback, as the Giants top two options under center both picked up injuries in this past weekend’s costly win over the Bears. Daniel Jones tweaked his ankle, Tyrod Taylor took a hit to the head, and now both of their statuses are up in the air for next week. It bears mentioning that if neither QB is able to go, it would be Davis Webb’s first NFL start; Webb was originally drafted by the Giants but never really saw any NFL game action as he bounced from team to team and eventually back to New York’s practice squad this season.
On the other sideline, the Packers have had some mixed results in adjusting to life without Davante, which was really the main offseason question about this group. They’ve certainly been winning games, other than a total no-show of an opening day performance against the Vikings. But the offense has yet to crack 30 points in a game, and hasn’t been the well-oiled machine it’s been at its best in years past. The defense has also been good enough to win, but not as elite as many perhaps expected; with essentially a quarter of the season gone, PFF has them ranked as the 22nd best unit in the league, and an alarming 30th against the run specifically.
This Giants team is 3-1, but the wins have been ugly, and against fairly unimpressive competition; even if they were fully healthy I wouldn’t be buying that they’d keep up with a team like Green Bay. But with the QB situation up in the air the way it is right now, I have to side with the Packers to win by more than a touchdown and cover the spread. On a similar note, this is really not the time and place to bet on offense- the under is certainly the play here.
- The Packers are 11-4 ATS in their past 15 games against NFC opponents; they’ve really displayed a mastery over their conference, in the regular season at least
- The under is 4-1 in the Packers’ last 5 games, and 22-5-2 over the Giants’ past 29- both of these teams have had solid defensive play to start the year, and this trend is one that should continue in London
Giants Injuries: Daniel Jones (Q), Tyrod Taylor (Q), Julian Love (Q)
Packers Injuries: Jaire Alexander (Q), Sammy Watkins (O)
Check out the key matchups and mismatches for Giants Vs. Packers below.
Saquon Barkley vs. Packers Run Defense
Some of us, myself included, thought we’d never see it again, but here we are- Saquon is healthy again, and he’s on fire. This Sunday, he carried the Giants to 3-1 162 yards on 33 total touches, and largely due to his efforts, the G-Men are averaging the most rushing yards per game of any team in the league. The offensive line has also been a bit better than usual in this aspect of the sport, ranking 13th in PFF’s run blocking grades- not elite, but much better than we’ve seen them at times in the past. Left tackle Andrew Thomas has been absolutely excellent in year 3, bringing in a PFF run grade over 85 and a total grade of a staggering 92.1. On the other side of the line, right guard Mark Glowinski has been the second best run blocker for the Giants, as per PFF, but his run blocking grade is in the mid-60s, which really illustrates how much Thomas, along with Barkley, has been carrying the load in this offense.
The good news for the Giants’ subpar run blockers is that they’ll be going up against one of the worst run defenses in the league so far. The Packers are allowing 126 yards per game on the ground, and that’s despite the fact that most of their opponents spend much of the game playing catch-up. The top performers in this lackluster unit so far have been edge rusher Rashan Gary, who is likely the best overall Packers defender, and lineman Jarran Reed, who will likely be frequently tasked with going up against Thomas on the defensive right side. If the Packers can limit the Giants on the ground- they’ll want to do better than the 2.5 run play tackles for loss they’re averaging so far- it’s hard to imagine them getting torched through the air.
Giants QB and pass catchers vs. Packers Air Defense
To put it bluntly, the performance of the Giants’ passing game skill players in this game is going to determine whether or not their team is able to stay competitive by any stretch of the term. PFF sees the Giants receiving group as the third-worst in the league so far, the o-line’s pass blocking efforts as just 27th best, and the play of QBs Daniel Jones and Tyrod Taylor only slightly better than that. This illustrates that even if all the signal-callers are healthy on Sunday, this could be an area of concern for the Giants, and if it’s Webb making what effectively, if not officially, amounts to his pro debut, it has the potential to be a veritable disaster.
They’ll be going up against a Packers defense that PFF considers to be top-10 in both secondary coverage, and pass rushing. As was the case with the run D, the front seven is led by do-it-all edge Rashan Gary, who has picked up 1 or more sacks in every game so far, leaving him with 5 so far this season. The Packers as a team are averaging nearly 3 sacks per game, as the likes of Preston Smith and Kenny Clark have chipped in as well. They’re backed up by the super-solid secondary trio of cornerbacks Rasul Douglas and Jaire Alexander, who have combined to allow 123 receiving yards total across 4 games, and safety Rudy Ford, who has yet to allow a completion this year.
The overall takeaway between these two key matchups is that while the Giants defense is likely to put together a passable or better performance in this one, with Aaron Rodgers working with a relatively thin Packers o-line and receiving group, the offense will have to step up in one or more ways in order to make this the competitive football game that the NFL is hoping to put on for their English audience.