Keys to the Game: Packers at Giants

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Green Bay Packers

Get Lacy Going

As impressed as Packers coach Mike McCarthy was with practice squaddie-turned-starting-quarterback Scott Tolzien on Sunday, the Packers offense will still be run by a third-stringer in New York this week. Whatever Tolzien is capable of, his job will be made infinitely easier if rookie running back Eddie Lacy gets moving early and often. The Giants’ defense has been stingy against the run and hasn’t allowed a 100-yard running back since Carolina’s DeAngelo Williams ran for 120 in Week 3.

Get Turnovers

The Giants have been generous with turnovers to opponents this season. The team is minus-13 in turnover ratio, 32nd in the league in the category. A lot of that has to do with Eli Manning, who has struggled this season. He’s thrown 16 interceptions this season (with only 11 touchdowns). The Packers’ secondary has struggled to get turnovers all season, but they have been close. This is the week the Packers’ secondary has to get the light to come on and come down with the football.

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New York Giants

Brown to the rescue

A lot of Mannings’ struggles with turnovers this season is due to the Giants’ lack of a running game. Andre Brown could change that. The fourth-year running back exploded for a 115-yard, one touchdown performance last week against the Oakland Raiders. Brown was on the short-term injured reserve list most of the season with a fractured fibula. If he can perform against the stout Packers rush defense, that could set up Manning in the play-action pass and help the Giants outpace the Tolzien-led Packers.

Get into shootout

However much the Giants run the ball, the goal should be to attack the Packers’ secondary. As the Philadelphia Eagles showed last week, just a few big plays may be all it takes to put the game out of reach for a Packers’ offense that wants to run the ball and eat clock with quarterback Aaron Rodgers sidelined with a broken collarbone.

OTHER KEYS

Must-See Matchup

Tramon Williams vs. Victor Cruz

Receiver Victor Cruz leads the Giants with 714 yards and four touchdowns, and is one of the best slot receivers in the league. The Packers have turned to Tramon Williams to cover slot receivers this season, with Casey Hayward sidelined early in the season with a hamstring injury. Hayward is once again dealing with a hamstring, meaning Williams is most likely to face Cruz on Sunday.

Hot Seat

Packers’ defense

There was no sugar-coating it, the Packers’ defense let the team down in its 27-13 loss to the Eagles on Sunday, just as it did a week before against the Chicago Bears. With Rodgers out, the defense needed to step up and win some games for the Packers, instead the defense couldn’t get off the field in the fourth quarter. McCarthy called it a recurring issue that needed to be addressed. Three poor performances in a row would certainly make the talk about needing a change much louder.

Hot Streak

Jarrett Boykin

Getting an opportunity because of injuries to receivers Randall Cobb and James Jones, Jarrett Boykin has been proving he belongs this season. Sunday the second-year receiver had his second eight-catch, 100-yard-plus game of the season. His first 100-yard game came against the Cleveland Browns and was taken as evidence that Rodgers could make receivers look good. His second 100-yard performance last week was with Scott Tolzien throwing him the ball, proving that the young player was simply getting open and making plays.