The Green Bay Packers are hot. They’re trendy. On the heels of three straight wins, they’re now the team no one wants to face in the playoffs.
Of course, they have to get there first.
A 3-2 finish will likely get them there, and this primetime road game against the New York Giants may be one of the two toughest games left. Yes, I realize that after facing Justin Herbert, Jared Goff, and Patrick Mahomes, the Pack’s defense will face Tommy “Cutlets” DeVito on Monday night. A year ago, he was a middling QB at Illinois who no team drafted. Suddenly, he’s the apple of Giants fans’ eyes.
The Giants have named him the starter for the rest of the season on the heels of wins over the Washington Commanders and New England Patriots. New York’s defense is getting healthier coming off their bye, and the Giants would like nothing more than to prove they’re finally ready for primetime after dropping 13 of their last 14 games under the lights.
The Packers are still the youngest team in the league, and you just hope they’re not reading their press clippings. You hope that those who were on the team last year remember the second-half beatdown the Giants put on the Packers in London, a game that lit the fuse on a five-game tailspin that derailed the season.
Saquon Barkley did a lot of damage in that game, and he remains the focal point of the offense, especially since Daniel Jones and Darren Waller are on the shelf. The Pack’s 30th-ranked run defense needs to keep Barkley in check as much as possible. But they may be without Quay Walker, who was limited in practice early in the week before sitting out on Friday.
DeVito has a problem in the passing game. His line can’t protect and can’t find five healthy guys week to week; he has no playmakers to throw to, and he’s so worried about throwing one up for grabs that he’s happy to take a sack. Washington planted him nine times in a loss. He’s been sacked 26 times in his four starts. You read that correctly: 26 sacks in four starts. Step right up, Rashan Gary.
You may ask, how do you take nine sacks and still win the game? Takeaways. They had six of them against the Commanders and followed up with three more against the Patriots. The Packers have not turned the ball over during their three-game winning streak. If they can protect the ball on Monday night, it’s hard to see the Giants outscoring them.
But Wink Martindale and his defense won’t make things easy on Jordan Love and Co. Star D-lineman Dexter Lawrence has practiced all week and is on track to make his return. Kayvon Thibodeaux has 11 sacks, and former Colt Bobby Okereke is a tackling machine. Martindale likes to blitz a lot, but Love has shown he’s up to that challenge.
The Pack will be without Christian Watson for the foreseeable future after re-injuring his left hamstring near the end of the Kansas City Chiefs game. They’ll miss his big play ability, but the rookies have shown they can make up for his absence. Aaron Jones practiced most of this week and may actually be active. He’ll likely be on a pitch count if he is, though.
There’s a reason the Packers are nearly a touchdown favorite, but there are warning signs blinking. The Giants have gained some confidence, are becoming opportunistic, and have a popular QB leading them. DeVito is becoming a folk hero mainly because he still lives with his parents and enjoys his mom doing his laundry and eating her world-famous chicken cutlets every day.
Flipside: The Giants have been at their worst in prime time, and they’re facing a team that has found its footing and is 16-0 in December under Matt LaFleur. It’s a prime spot for a letdown, but the Packers will do just enough to escape with a win.