Packers-Giants Sunday Night Preview

SUNDAY NIGHT WILL BE SPECIAL AS GREEN BAY VISITS THE NY GIANTS

Sports bettors watched marquee prime time matchups last week in the NFL without prime time quarterbacks! Baltimore-Pittsburgh last Sunday Night was missing Ben Roethlisberger. Chicago-San Francisco last Monday Night was missing Jay Cutler and Alex Smith, though Colin Kaepernick may have Wally Pipped Smith.

This Sunday Night, NBC will show a playoff rematch and a potential playoff preview when the Green Bay Packers visit the New York Giants with both Aaron Rodgers and Eli Manning on the field.

After a slow start, Green Bay is now sitting at 7-3 and is in great shape to reach the postseason. If the refs hadn't robbed them of a victory in Seattle, they'd be 8-2! If Indianapolis hadn't played inspired ball for their stricken head coach...well, the point is...Green Bay weathered some early storms and is now in control of its destiny.

NFC NORTH
Green Bay 7-3
Chicago 7-3
Minnesota 6-4
Detroit 4-7

The Packers currently hold a tie-breaker edge over Chicago because of a heads-up victory...though there will be a rematch in the Windy City in mid-December. Green Bay still has two games with Minnesota. So, this is the ultimate of controlling one's own destiny! Even if the Packers lose to the Giants, victories over their nearest competitors in the stretch run will put them in the playoffs. Win Sunday Night, and the Packers have a shot at catching Atlanta (9-1) and San Francisco (7-2-1) to earn a first round bye.

Green Bay has won five straight games, covering four of the five against Vegas expectations.

The NY Giants are trending the opposite direction. A big TV win in Dallas had them at 6-2 in the standings, with a road victory over powerhouse San Francisco already on the resume. They were going to be favored for the forseeable future, which put them firmly in the driver's seat.

NYG (-3) lost to Pittsburgh 24-20 (and played worse than that sounds)
NYG (-4) lost to Cincinnati 31-13 (and played as bad as that sounds!

Suddenly, the Giants are 6-4, and dealing with a headache of a schedule...

NFC EAST
NY Giants 6-4
Washington 5-6
Dallas 5-6
Philadelphia 3-7

NYG REMAINING SCHEDULE
Sunday: vs. Green Bay
Dec. 3: at Washington (now a HUGE game in the divisional race)
Dec 9: vs New Orleans (on a roll lately)
Dec. 16: at Atlanta (Giants will be a dog)
Dec. 23: at Baltimore (probably a dog again)
Dec. 30: vs. Philadelphia (might be a gift, might not)

Last week's bye came at just the right time. If Eli Manning and company don't get things in gear, New York could drift all the way out of the playoff picture by Christmas.

Our key indicator stats will be meaningful with both starting quarterbacks on the field. Let's see what they suggest about Sunday Night's possibilities...

GREEN BAY at NY GIANTS (8:20 p.m. on NBC)
Las Vegas Spread: NY Giants by 3, total of 50.5

This line has moved a bit through the course of the week. Bettors seem to like Green Bay at +3, but New York money comes in at Giants -2.5. If the market saw these teams as dead even, then NYG would be locked in at -3. Since there's movement, there's some sentiment that Green Bay's slightly better at the moment. That high total is out of respect for these quarterbacks, and a sign that weather isn't expected to be an issue. New England-NYJ soared over its total on this field a few nights ago.

WON-LOST RECORDS (schedule strength according to USA Today)
Green Bay: 7-3 (9th ranked schedule)
NY Giants: 6-4 (18th ranked schedule)

This is why the market things Green Bay is the better team. They have a better record vs. a tougher schedule. And, the Packers could just as easily be 9-1 given what happened in Seattle and Indianapolis. The good news for Giants fans is that those were road games...suggesting that the Packers are having trouble getting distance from contenders away from Lambeau. New York's strength of schedule is going to rise up over the next month.

TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL
Green Bay: +11
NY Giants: +7

Good sign for both veteran quarterbacks...particular Manning, who used to be very turnover prone. He's kept his poise...and both teams have exploited the risk/reward ratio to their benefit this season.

OFFENSIVE STATS
Green Bay: 345.5 yards-per-game on 5.3 yards-per-play
NY Giants: 367.4 yards-per-game on 5.8 yards-per-play

Green Bay's struggles have been a surprise. Remember, this is the PACKERS! We should be looking at about 50 yards more per game, and something much closer to 6.0 in yards-per-play. The team is winning, and they're doing it against a tough schedule. But, this is FAR from a vintage Packers team in the Rodgers era. The Giants get the nod on this side of the ball even after you adjust for strength of schedule.

DEFENSIVE STATS
Green Bay: 343.9 yards-per-game on 5.2 yards-per-play
NY Giants: 371.6 yards-per-game on 5.9 yards-per-play

It's the Packers defense that's kept them in the playoff mix this season. A big step forward from last year, where they were basically the Patriots of the NFC at a time when that meant a soft defense would deny you a title. Yes, they've faced some shaky quarterbacks. They also faced Houston and held that potent attack in check. Now it's the Giants who have to worry if its defense has gotten too soft this year. Edge to the Packers on this side of the ball.

MOST RECENT BOXES

GREEN BAY 24, DETROIT 20
Total Yardage: Green Bay 314, Detroit 362
Rushing Yards: Green Bay 95, Detroit 110
Passing Stats: Green Bay 19-27-1-219, Detroit 17-39-2-252
Turnovers: Green Bay 1, Detroit 4
Third Downs: Green Bay 46%, Detroit 40%
Vegas Line: Green Bay by 3, total of 53

Some in the media were calling this a lucky win for the Packers. Yes, they were outgained. But they won the turnover battle in a rout. They only threw 8 incomplete passes compared to 22. And, they almost converted have of their third down tires. Avoiding mistakes is a big part of winning. So is executing when it matters. This is a smart team finding its way in 2012 rather than a powerhouse blowing the doors off.

(The Giants had a bye last week, this is from two weeks ago)
CINCINNATI 31, NY GIANTS 13
Total Yardage: NY Giants 318, Cincinnati 275
Rushing Yards: NY Giants 129, Cincinnati 76
Passing Stats: NY Giants 29-46-2-189, Cincinnati 21-30-0-199
Turnovers: NY Giants 4, Cincinnati 1
Third Downs: NY Giants 36%, Cincinnati 46%
Vegas Line: NY Giants by 4, total of 48.5

This was a turnover debacle for the Giants, who fell behind early and managed meaningless yardage while trying to play catch up. The whole afternoon was a red flag that everyone needed some time off. It's amazing how many NFL teams sometimes give themselves two by weeks by no-showing the game before a bye. New York doesn't really have that luxury with their schedule...but maybe the break will lead to a peak performance vs. the Pack.

BEST EXPECTATION
It depends on how the Giants respond to the bye. This is a great schedule spot for the G-Men because they're as fresh as you can be in late November while the Packers are coming off a divisional war in Detroit. The game is there to be won from their perspective. That being said...Green Bay is playing as well as Pittsburgh was a few weeks ago on this field. If the Giants aren't ready, they're going to lose straight up and the pointspread isn't even going to matter.

JIM HURLEY has been working closely with his New York sources to get a read on the bye influence. This is a game that could miss the Vegas spread by at least a touchdown based on that one factor alone. If the Giants didn't freshen up, they might look as bad as Houston did when hosting this Packers squad. If the Giants are ready for the stretch run, Eli Manning will put up some big numbers.

Click here to get Sunday night's game, and check out NETWORK'S full Sunday slate right here at this website. If you have any questions, call our office at 1-800-323-4453.

Back with you tomorrow to crunch the numbers in Monday Night Football. There are still plenty of winners left on the table in JIM HURLEY'S ANNUAL THANKSGIVING FEAST!

21
Aug

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