For the first time in a month, Green Bay is favored against their opponent. A three-game win streak has propelled the Packers into the playoff picture and given the team new hope. After slaying the Chiefs, Green Bay hits the road to take on a feisty New York Giants squad.
New York will be relying on their third-string quarterback, but there are three key matchups in the Packers-Giants Monday night showdown.
Rattle the Rookie
On paper, most teams would salivate over playing a previously undrafted, third-string rookie quarterback. After losing both Daniel Jones and Tyrod Taylor to injury, the Giants turned to Tommy Devito to save their season. Since being named the starter in Week 9 against the Las Vegas Raiders, Devito has been playing surprisingly well. The city has since rallied around him, and thus another New York legend has been born.
For Devito, it comes down to not making mistakes. In his first two career starts, Devito threw three interceptions. Against the Raiders, his two interceptions led to 10 points for Las Vegas. Against the Cowboys the following week, Devito’s lone pick led to a Dallas touchdown (per ESPN stats). But since those two games, Devito has not thrown an interception and tossed four touchdowns in consecutive victories.
Since finding his footing, Devito has helped the Giants play the sort of football that won them nine games in 2022. Under Brian Daboll, New York has thrived on playing mistake-free football and running the ball at a high clip. Ball control will be an emphasis for the Giants, which means rattling Devito is essential.
Through their last two games, the Giants have allowed 15 sacks. While Devito was playing mostly clean football, sacks can be immediate drive-killers. On the flip side, Green Bay has recorded nine sacks in their last three games. As well as sacks, the Packers recorded a high number of quarterback hits in that span. Against Detroit and Kansas City alone, Green Bay recorded 19 combined quarterback hits (per ESPN stats). Perhaps more than anything, applying pressure front could pay off big for the Packers.
Key in on Barkley
For New York, a stagnant offense has largely hampered their season. Through 12 games, the Giants have scored 159 points and allowed 292 (per ESPN stats). For comparisons, the Eagles have scored 329 points and allowed 288. Only four points separate the two defenses, but the Eagles’ offense has more than doubled the Giants’ output for points in the same amount of games. Collectively, this has led to a six-game gap between the Giants and Eagles in the division.
As it goes for Green Bay, they can win by playing smothering defense. Pressuring Devito will go a long way, but this also means containing Saquon Barkley. Throughout his career, Barkley has become known for his ability to carry the load, especially when the passing game sputters. This season alone, Barkley has ripped off gains of 20+ yards in five games (per pro-football reference). In only two games this season has he seen less than three targets through the air. He will likely be a focal point of the offense for New York on Monday Night.
Win Third Down
Winning third down will be another key for this Packers defense. Through 12 games, the team has generated 29 sacks. Sixteen of those sacks have come on third down, and 14 of those third-down sacks came on downs requiring more than 4 yards (per pro-football reference). Ultimately, for the Packers, this means preventing Barkley from chipping away at the defense on early downs and forcing short-yardage third downs.
Forcing long conversions for the Giants offense can help Green Bay win this game, but New York has a speedster who is starting to catch on. Jalin Hyatt, the Giants rookie receiver, is one player the Packers need to watch out for. Coming out of college, Hyatt was known for his deep speed. Through his last five games, Hyatt has received 14 of his 28 targets on the season; he has also been targeted the most on downs that require 10 or more yards (per pro-football-reference). With more time to gel with Devito, Hyatt could be a player the Giants look to get going against Green Bay.
The playoffs are firmly within reach for Green Bay, and beating the Giants on Monday night should help them maintain momentum as the season winds down.
Main Photo: [Tork Mason] – USA Today Sports