Game Scout: Packers at Giants

Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Green Bay Packers (5-4) at New York Giants (3-6)
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J. - TV: FOX
*TV announcers: Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa
*Keys to the game: Packers QB Aaron Rodgers won't play, and the Giants will unleash a gameplan designed to make Scott Tolzien panic in his first career start. Rodgers had four interceptions in seven games -- his replacements have three picks in two games (63 attempts) in a shift in defensive approach to invite the Packers to win the game through the air. The trouble for the Giants is they have just 14 sacks and are struggling to get off of the field on third down. More power formations are coming this week, designed to put a flood of bodies in front of RB Eddie Lacy to clear his path to the second level. Lacy's size makes him a tough tackle when he reaches the linebacker and safety level. Eli Manning has been arguably the league's worst quarterback for stretches of this season. He has an unsurpassed 16 interceptions with just 11 touchdown passes and is completing only 55.6 percent of his throws. But the Packers have a league-low three interceptions after nine games. In three matchups with the Packers since 2011, Manning has been a prolific and nearly mistake-free passer with three touchdowns in each game with three total sacks. RB Andre Brown returned from a leg injury for a 100-yard effort last week, bringing needed balance to the backfield. Manning completed 26 passes to Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz when these teams met in 2011, and the Packers' five-man cornerback rotation has been woeful during their two-game losing streak.
*Matchup to watch - Giants FB John Conner vs. Packers ILB A.J. Hawk: Hawk is having a Pro Bowl-caliber season, but Conner is helping the Giants become a consistent rushing threat. Since he became a starter, the Giants have rushed for 408 yards in four games.
*Player spotlight - Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul: He's close to a full recovery from offseason back surgery that robbed his elite first-step quickness and lateral agility. If his recent shoulder injury doesn't hold him back, Pierre-Paul could have a breakout game against rookie LT David Bakhtiari.
*Fast facts: The Packers are riding a two-game losing streak and haven't lost three straight games since dropping five in a row in 2008. ... The Giants are the second team in NFL history to start 0-6 and win their next three games.
Packers QB Scott Tolzien was competent in his first regular-season NFL action last week but is two weeks removed from practice squad status. Unless the Packers tap into Eli Manning's turnover vault, the Giants win their fourth straight and make the NFC East more interesting.

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