New York Giants Have the Weakest Weakness
When the New York Giants travel to Green Bay to take on the Packers in the NFL wildcard round on Sunday afternoon, everyone will be focused on one matchup: the New York defense versus Green Bay’s offense. This is rightly the exciting battle of the game, pitting two elite units against one another. However, the winner of the game is not going to come down to this matchup. It will instead be decided by whose weakness is weaker.
The Giants’ weakness is offense. More specifically, it is everything on offense outside of Odell Beckham Jr. It is the running game, the offensive line, the passing attack when Eli Manning does not look Beckham’s way. The Giants had a very bad offensive year. They finished the season as the 22nd-ranked offense overall according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA. For fans who think that an atrocious running game dragged down the overall ranking, the team was 26th in rushing and 21st in passing; just solidly bad from end to end.
The defense carried New York to its 11 wins and postseason berth. Its next opponent had a season that perfectly mirrors New York’s. Green Bay was great on offense. Despite some slip-ups in the middle of the year and people jumping off the bandwagon, the Packers finished with the fourth-best offense in the NFL. Their defense was a different story.
The Packer defense ranked 20th in the league and 22nd against the pass. Up front was pretty much the only reliable source for the group. Too many injuries across the back seven dismantled the secondary and the linebacker corps to the point that Green Bay was hardly fielding an NFL-caliber roster. The defensive line was pretty darn good; just not good enough to pick up the unit at-large. Consider the Packers’ line as the Odell Beckham of its defense.
Whichever weakness performs worse is going to decide the winner of this wildcard game. Unfortunately, my money is on New York’s weakness coming up weaker. The Giant offense hasn’t reached 20 points in more than a month. The last time NY managed to reach that piddling mark came against a team that can hardly be considered an NFL opponent: the Cleveland Browns. In 16 games, 11 of which were wins if you recall, the Giants reached at least 30 points exactly zero times. This team can’t score.
The worst part is New York may not even be able to take advantage of a horribly depleted backside of Green Bay’s defense. The Packer defensive line ranked sixth in the entire NFL in sack rate this year. Manning struggles to hang in the pocket when pressure is on him. It has become routine to see him bailing and dumping the ball into the ground. We may see numerous such incompletions on Sunday.
The Giants’ best hope is that their strength is strongest, which is a distinct possibility no matter the opponent. However, it is going to take more than a six-yard slant that Odell takes to the house to win this ballgame. The Giants need to generate some actual offense.
Todd Salem, New York Giants Lead Writer and pecan pie enthusiast
On Twitter @sportspinata