Packers vs. Giants in London: 5 things to watch and a prediction

Five things to watch and a prediction for the Packers’ Week 5 game against the Giants in London.

Sunday is a great day for a football game between two iconic NFL franchises in London, innit?

The Green Bay Packers (3-1) and New York Giants (3-1) will do battle on the pitch at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on Sunday morning. Four-time MVP Aaron Rodgers said it would be a game – and experience – he would remember forever in his career.

Can Matt LaFleur’s team make it a favorable memory by escaping the United Kingdom with a big win during the franchise’s first appearance in the NFL’s International Series?

Here are five things to watch and a prediction for Packers-Giants in Week 5:

Giants vs. Packers: NFL experts make Week 5 picks

See who experts around the league are taking in a Week 5 matchup between the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers.

The New York Giants (3-1) will visit the Green Bay Packers (3-1) at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, United Kingdom on Sunday morning.

Opening the week, the Giants were listed as 7.5-point road underdogs and that’s where the spread remains as of this writing.

Let’s take a look at who some of the experts and insiders around the league are taking in the Week 5 matchup:

Expert Pick Score (if applicable)
Stephania Bell (ESPN) Packers N/A
Matt Bowen (ESPN) Packers N/A
Domonique Foxworth (ESPN) Packers N/A
Pete Prisco (CBS) Packers 31-21
John Breech (CBS) Packers 23-20
Ryan Wilson (CBS) Packers N/A
Nate Davis (USA TODAY) Packers 27-16
Lorenzo Reyes (USA TODAY) Packers 20-16
Bill Bender (Sporting News) Packers  28-20
Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News) Packers  31-17

This game may be the most lopsided of the entire season so far in terms of expert picks. Not only is the above panel completely in Green Bay’s favor, 99% of all expert picks favor the Packers, according to NFL Pickswatch.

Fans give the Giants only slightly better odds with 3% picking Big Blue to come away with the upset in London.

Score predictions seem to be all over the map with some, like Vinnie Iyer, expecting the Giants to be blown out of the water.

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While dominant for stretches, Packers still seeking consistency on defense

Packers DC Joe Barry: “I think the biggest thing is consistency. We’re still looking for, obviously, just that complete game.”

The Green Bay Packers defense has allowed only six total touchdowns and ranks seventh in the NFL in points allowed and drives ending in a score after four weeks, but defensive coordinator Joe Barry is still rightfully searching for the ever-elusive consistency that all dominant defenses covet.

Barry pointed to last week’s win over the New England Patriots as the perfect example: For nine drives, the Packers were dominant, but the Patriots – behind a pair of backup quarterbacks – stung the defense for a couple of scoring drives that exposed recurring holes.

“I think consistency is probably the biggest thing we’re looking for,” Barry said Wednesday. “We played dominant at times the other day, for nine drives…I think the biggest thing is consistency. We’re still looking for, obviously, just that complete game. As I said, we played 11 drives the other day and I think nine of them were pretty darn good. The opening drive given up the three points. They punted seven times. We got a takeaway. But those two drives, we had some lapses. We turned it into much more of a dramatic game than it needed to be.”

The Packers gave up a pair of touchdown drives in the second half but then held the Patriots to just 15 total yards over three-straight three-and-outs to finish the game, including a pivotal stop in overtime.

The 2022 defense keeps morphing back and forth between the 1985 Bears and the late era Dom Capers defenses.

Overall, the Packers have allowed scores on the opening drives of each of the first four games (20 points in all), the run defense is giving up 5.0 yards per rush and opponents have created 12 passing plays of 20 or more yards, including six from Kirk Cousins in Week 1.

The dominance, however, is certainly easy to see: Rashan Gary and Kenny Clark have played at an All-Pro level, the Packers rank No. 1 in third down defense (including 0-for-21 on third-and-long), and opponents have entered the red zone only eight times.

Green Bay has faced 42 drives on defense and forced 22 punts. The Packers have faced only 226 plays, the second-fewest in the NFL.

The difference for Barry’s group has been nothing more than a couple of bad drives a game. It’s usually one early and one late. If the Packers can start faster on defense and clean up some of the recurring issues, especially against the run, Barry’s defense could go from good to great over the rest of the 2022 season.

Rich Bisaccia on Dallin Leavitt: ‘He’s the Energizer Bunny, the Tasmanian Devil’

Dallin Leavitt brings the juice and the crazy for the Packers special teams.

“I think the first game, the official came over and said, ‘What is the matter with No. 6?”

Core special teams players at the NFL level need to bring the juice and have a little crazy coursing through their veins. Dallin Leavitt of the Green Bay Packers fits the description perfectly, according to the endearing terms bestowed upon him by special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia.

“He’s that guy, right? He’s the Energizer Bunny. He’s the Tasmanian Devil,” Bisaccia said Wednesday.

The Packers signed Leavitt this offseason to help Bisaccia bolster the special teams. Through four games, the former Raider has played 75 special teams – the second-most on the team – and delivered three total tackles.

Leavitt, a feisty safety who stands 5-11 and weighs 195 pounds, participates on kickoff return, kickoff coverage, punt return, punt coverage and field goal block for the Packers.

In terms of leaders in the special teams room, Leavitt has quickly assumed the role for Bisaccia in Green Bay.

“He’s just one of those guys that has a great sense of his job, has a great sense of his role, and what he’s being asked to do. And he plays in a way in which I think people respect his work. He’s an angry worker but he’s really a bright guy. Some of his things I think are probably calculated. He’s well-prepared, and I think the players, especially the younger players, they see how he prepares. He has to make a lot of the calls in the meetings so I think the guys get a certain level of comfort, I know Pat does, that he’s going to put them in the right protection at the right time and hopefully he can keep doing that.”

A little crazy helps on special teams, especially in terms of getting under the skin of opponents.

“He pisses me off a lot, so I’m sure he gets after them a little bit as well,” Bisaccia said. “I think the first game, the official came over and said, ‘What is the matter with No. 6? It’s the start of the game, it’s just how he is.”

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New Packers LB Eric Wilson is getting a back-to-back trip to London

By the time new Packers LB Eric Wilson returns to Green Bay from London, he’ll have traveled almost 40 hours in the air over roughly a week or so.

One week after going to London as a member of the New Orleans Saints, linebacker Eric Wilson is headed back overseas with his new team, the Green Bay Packers.

Wilson, who was on the team’s practice squad, traveled with the Saints to London to play the Minnesota Vikings at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last Sunday. The Packers signed him off the practice squad on Tuesday, and now he’s headed back to London as a member of Green Bay’s 53-man roster.

Wilson didn’t play in the Saints’ loss to the Vikings, but he could be on the field in a special teams role for the Packers on Sunday.

It’s been a grueling week of travel for the veteran linebacker. From New Orleans to London is roughly nine hours of in-flight time. The way back is about 10. So 19 total hours there and back, plus a flight from New Orleans to Green Bay mid-week (roughly four hours), and now another international flight, this time from Green Bay to London (roughly eight hours). By the time Wilson returns to Green Bay early Monday, he’ll have traveled almost 40 hours in the air in a little over a week’s time.

Wilson told Wes Hodkiewicz of the team’s official site that he’s “trying to make the most of it.”

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Packers ILBs De’Vondre Campbell and Quay Walker face tough matchup against Saquon Barkley

The Packers ILBs need to play the run better, starting on Sunday in London against the NFL’s leading rusher, Saquon Barkley.

The inside linebackers for the Green Bay Packers need to do a better job against the run this week when they face arguably the most talented running back in the NFL. Of course, we are talking about Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants, who Green Bay will face in London on Sunday.

To put it bluntly, the Packers’ run defense has not been good this season, and DeVondre Campbell and Quay Walker are two of the main culprits. Campbell’s regression as a run defender is surprising, especially after he was the fifth-highest-graded run defender among linebackers last season, according to Pro Football Focus. This season, Campbell has fallen to 97th.

The rookie gets more leeway than the All-Pro but still needs to be a lot better. Walker was first linebacker off the board in this year’s draft, yet he is currently dead last among rookies in run defense.

Stopping the run is obviously a team effort, but Green Bay’s linebackers haven’t done their part through the first four games. That is partly why they are ranked 22nd in run defense and allowing 5.0 yards per carry. Consider this is music to Barkley’s ears now that he is finally healthy and having his best season since 2018.

“We have to be better, quite frankly, because we’re going up against the No. 1 rush offense in the National Football League,” head coach Matt LaFleur said on Wednesday. “We know how explosive Saquon Barkley can be. It’s going to be a great challenge for our defense just to consistently go out there and perform at a high level. We’re going to have to be on point. It’s going to take everybody.”

Even though the Packers can expect the Giants to run the ball a ton, it could still be troublesome. They knew the New England Patriots were going to lean on their running backs last week when they were down to their third-string quarterback. However, Green Bay still had difficulties defending the run even when they knew it was coming. New England totaled 167 yards on the ground and almost snuck away with an overtime victory. And to make matters worse, both Campbell and Walker received their worst run defense grades of the season.

Something will have to change soon, or teams are going to keep pounding the rock against the Packers. LaFleur said the defense wants to continue to play with two-high safeties, which means lighter boxes and more of the onus on Campbell and Walker.

If Campbell and Walker don’t do a better job this week, Barkley could have another near 150-yard day like he did last week against the Chicago Bears.

Adrian Amos returns to practice, Jaire Alexander full participant on Thursday

Thursday’s injury report brought two upgrades for the Packers: Adrian Amos returned, and Jaire Alexander was a full participant.

Two starting members of the Green Bay Packers secondary took meaningful steps towards playing in London against the New York Giants during Thursday’s practice, the last before the team flies overseas for Sunday’s Week 5 showdown.

Safety Adrian Amos returned to practice in a limited capacity, meaning he took a step forward in the concussion protocol and could still play Sunday. He suffered the head injury in the first half of last week’s win over the Patriots.

Cornerback Jaire Alexander was upgraded from a limited participant on Wednesday to a full participant on Thursday, suggesting he’s on track to return after missing last week with a groin injury.

The only bad sign on Thursday’s injury report was for rookie Devonte Wyatt, who didn’t practice while dealing with a quadriceps injury. He’s been nothing more than a rotational player during the first four games of his NFL career and now could be inactive for Week 5.

Veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis got a rest day. Left tackle David Bakhtiari, right tackle Elgton Jenkins, center Josh Myers, receiver Allen Lazard and safety Tariq Carpenter were all limited again.

The Giants upgraded two players on the injury report but still had six non-participants on Thursday. Quarterback Daniel Jones was limited again but looks capable of playing Sunday.

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PODCAST: Revisiting the top hits, misses from Dave Gettleman’s tenure

This week on the Giants Wire Podcast, we preview the New York Giants-Green Bay Packers in London and talk Dave Gettleman’s GM tenure.

This week on the Giants Wire Podcast, we break down the best and worst moves made by former New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman. It was bad, but was it the worst run by a Giants GM ever?

We also discuss the Giants heading over to London to take on the Green Bay Packers while once again being hit with the injury bug. Can they possibly upset Aaron Rodgers & Co.?

Those topics (and more) are discussed in the latest episode of the Giants Wire Podcast, which is hosted by Ryan O’Leary (@RyanOLearySMG on Twitter) and joined by site editor Dan Benton (@TheGiantsWire).

The Giants Wire Podcast will air every week during the regular season and occasionally throughout the offseason. You can listen below:

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Don’t forget to use our playlist to enhance your listening experience:

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Fantasy Football: Potential bargains, must-plays from Giants-Packers game

Here’s a look at some potential bargains for daily fantasy from the New York Giants-Green Bay Packers Week 5 game on Sunday morning.

The New York Giants (3-1) face off against the Green Bay Packers (3-1) at Tottenham Hotspur in London this Sunday morning.

Here is a quick rundown of fantasy football options, for both season-long and in weekly DFS.

 

Comfort and cohesion key contributors to Jon Runyan’s strong start for Packers

Packers LG Jon Runyan on his start to 2022: “On the field, I feel like I’m starting to pick up my things and play really well.”

Now in his third NFL season and second as a starter, the common word used to describe Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Jon Runyan is “consistent.”

On Wednesday, when speaking with reporters, Aaron Rodgers called Runyan a “very, very consistent player.” Later in the day, and unrelated to the question Rodgers was asked, offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich echoed similar sentiments, calling Runyan the most consistent interior offensive lineman on the team this season.

Through four games, Runyan is the only guard in the NFL to play at least 60 snaps and not allow a single pressure, per PFF. His pass-blocking grade also ranks as the sixth-highest.

In the run game, Aaron Jones is averaging 6.4 yards per carry when rushing in Runyan’s direction, while AJ Dillon is averaging 4.7 yards on six attempts.

Runyan improved as the 2021 season went along as he gained more experience, allowing just four pressures in the final six games, but as is often the case for players going from Year 2 to Year 3, we’ve seen him make a big jump. According to Runyan, this is a product of feeling more comfortable but also improved play around him as well as continuity – a very important element to offensive line play.

“I feel a lot more comfortable going into this season and through camp, knowing I was going to be a starter in there,” said Runyan on Wednesday. “And I feel like this year, Josh has really grown a lot, and everything up front really starts with the center and as a guard that makes you feel more comfortable. Getting a couple of guys back, like Dave and Elgton and Royce getting a lot better, too; I feel like, slowly, all five of us are starting to mesh. On the field, I feel like I’m starting to pick up my things and play really well. Overall, just feeling a lot more comfortable and cohesion.”

Due to injuries, the Packers experienced a lot of movement along the offensive line last season that included seven different offensive line combinations. Josh Myers, who missed quite a bit of time with an injury of his own, and Royce Newman were also rookies, both of whom, to varying degrees, experienced the growing pains that come with starting in your first NFL season. Yosh Nijman fits into this category as well as a first year starter in 2021, who the Packers had to game plan around. 

This season, Myers ranks 10th among all centers in PFF’s pass-blocking grade and Newman is 33rd out of 73 eligible guards in pass-blocking grade from Weeks 2-4 if we take that first game at tackle out of the equation.

As a team, the Packers rank ninth, averaging 5.0 yards per carry this season, along with Jones being among the best in generating big plays. From a pass protection standpoint, the Packers’ offensive line has room for improvement as they rank ninth in pressure rate allowed this season, but to a degree, those inconsistencies are to be expected with both Elgton Jenkins and David Bakhtiari working their way back from serious injuries along with Green Bay utilizing a make-shift unit in Week 1 against Minnesota.

Although all eyes are often on Rodgers and the Packers passing game, the level of success that this offense will have begins and ends with the offensive line play, and Runyan has provided some much-needed stability and consistency inside.

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