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NFL Week 5: Saquon Barkley can’t defeat Green Bay alone

Danny Dimes and Saquon Barkley

Danny Dimes and Saquon Barkley
Image: Getty Images

It’s normal for fans to get overly excited when their team starts the season off strong. The New York Giants are 3-1 and playing their Week 5 game in London. Despite their 3-1 record, the Giants are one of the worst offensive teams in the NFL. Their rushing attack is top-tier, but they’re second-to-last in the NFL in pass yards per game. So, why in the world are the Giants getting so many bets to beat the Packers?

According to OddsChecker US, 60 percent of bets on the moneyline for this weekend’s Europe game have been placed on New York, despite the Giants being 8.5-point underdogs. While the Giants have won a game where they were double-digit underdogs semi-recently — Week 13 of the 2020 season at Seattle — the Packers haven’t lost a game where they were more than eight-point favorites since the final week of the 2018 season. However, the Packers were only favored in that game because sportsbooks believed Aaron Rodgers would play the entirety of that game. He didn’t. He came out after the first quarter and DeShone Kizer took over. The Packers got shut out.

It’s been even longer since Rodgers has been handed such a humiliating defeat, and given Daniel Jones’ struggles with an ankle injury all week, it’s tough to imagine the Giants’ offense being able to keep up with the back-to-back MVP.

That said, I don’t think a Giants’ victory is out of the question. You’d think their horrendous passing attack would make it difficult for the Giants to come back when down late in games. However, in two of its three wins this season, New York trailed at some point or another in the second half. The third quarter has been the best quarter for Daniel Jones this season. Two of his three passing touchdowns have come in the third quarter of games. He’s completing 68.42 percent of his passes in that frame and has a 135.6 passer rating. He’s also averaging over 11 yards per carry in the third quarter (the highest of any quarter this season).

The Packers’ best quarter defensively though is the third quarter as well. This season, they’re allowing only 5.8 yards per pass attempt from opposing quarterbacks and 4.76 yards per rush from their opponents, both are the lowest marks of any quarter. If the Giants can win that battle early in the second half, they could have a good opportunity to walk away from Europe with a victory. I mean, even Bailey Zappe managed to record two first downs, 41 passing yards, and a touchdown in the third quarter of last week’s game between the Patriots and Packers. A steady and efficient run game would be a big help in controlling the clock and limiting Jones and his bum ankle’s impact on the offense. Damien Harris averaged four yards before contact on the game. If the Giants can manage that, they’ll be in control of the game flow, and that’s the best way to defeat Rodgers.

The Giants’ offensive line has actually been surprisingly effective, ranking fifth in power success rate (88 percent) and fourth in running back yards (5.4). Andrew Thomas has emerged as an elite tackle early in the season, posting a 91.5 run-blocking grade from PFF. He’s been the only good blocker for the Giants, but if they can continually put Barkley in position to run behind him, they should have an easy time pushing the ball downfield steadily.

The Packers aren’t a team that should be bet against all willy-nilly. Already this year, they’ve been on the bad side of a myriad of moneyline bets. In Week 2, the Bears were among bettors’ favorite underdogs to walk away with a win. The Packers dominated that game throughout. While it might be easy to look at the Packers being taken to overtime by the Patriots’ third-string quarterback and think the 3-1 Giants should have an easier time than the 1-3 Pats, the eye test will tell you that the Packers are still the far superior team. Of course, anything can happen on any given Sunday, but I’m riding with the Packers to win in this one.

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