RETURN TO LONDON
In 2007, the Giants took part in the NFL's first game in London as they defeated the Miami Dolphins at Wembley Stadium, 13-10. Following a return in 2016, a 17-10 victory over the Los Angeles Rams at Twickenham Stadium, the Giants will hope to go 3-0 in international games this weekend. Brian Daboll and the coaching staff are trying to keep things simple for the players so the team can remain focused on the Packers.
"It's my first time going across seas to participate in a football game," Daboll told the media Monday. "We look forward to it; not much longer travel time than it is to go to the West Coast. So, we'll just try to do our job during the week to get ready. I think the sports science staff, the trainers, like I said (vice president of team operations) Jim Phelan, LY (Laura Young), they've done a good job of getting ready so we can concentrate on the teams we were playing."
Sunday's game will represent the 32nd NFL game in London. Oddly enough, the Packers are the 32nd and final team to head overseas to play an international game. There have been 41 regular-season international games in NFL history -- 31 in London, six in Toronto, and four in Mexico City. The combined winning percentage of .750 between the Giants and Packers is the highest ever in an international game in Week 4 or later.
This weekend's matchup is the 63rd all-time meeting between the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers. The Packers enter the game with a 34-26-2 all-time record against the Giants, aided by wins in each of the previous three meetings. Similar to last week, the matchup features two of the oldest franchises in the NFL. The first game between the Giants and Packers took place in 1928, with the Giants winning 6-0.
Out: CB Cor'Dale Flott (calf), WR Kenny Golladay (knee), DL Henry Mondeaux (ankle), OLB Azeez Ojulari (calf), WR Wan'Dale Robinson (knee), QB Tyrod Taylor (concussion), WR Kadarius Toney (hamstring)
Questionable: DL Leonard Williams (knee)
Questionable: S Adrian Amos (concussion), S Tariq Carpenter (abdomen), DL Devonte Wyatt (quadricep)
Due to injuries, the Giants had three players line up at quarterback during last week's win. Daniel Jones started the game and took most of the snaps at QB before he suffered an ankle injury in the third quarter. Veteran backup Tyrod Taylor then came in, but was forced out of the game with a concussion early in the fourth quarter. Jones would return after Taylor's departure, although he did not attempt a pass or run after going back in. Saquon Barkley also wound up taking a few snaps in the wildcat formation.
Jones was a limited participant at practice Wednesday and Thursday, but practiced fully on Friday and was not listed on the final injury report. Taylor was ruled out on Friday, meaning Davis Webb, who is on the practice squad and was elevated for Sunday's game, will serve as the backup quarterback. The sixth-year veteran has yet to attempt a pass in a regular season game. However, he came to the Giants after spending the last three seasons in Buffalo with Daboll. The head coach feels good about Webb and knows the veteran will be able to run the offense if called upon.
"I have a lot of confidence in Davis," the head coach said. "He hasn't played a full game in the regular season, but I've been around him for four years. I've watched him compete. I watch how he prepares. I watch how he leads. If he is afforded this opportunity, then Davis will be ready."
In the three preseason games this year, Webb completed 74.1 percent of his passes for 457 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
SAQUON'S RECORD-SETTING START
There is no other way to put it – Saquon Barkley has gotten off to a tremendous start this season. Barkley has rushed for 463 yards on 84 attempts through Week 4, both of which lead the NFL. He has averaged 5.5 yards per carry and 115.8 yards per game, while topping the 140-yard mark twice. As if that wasn't enough, he has also caught 15 passes for 107 yards, which has led to him being the league's all-purpose yards leader at 570 (next is Browns RB Nick Chubb with 496).
Barkley has averaged over 4.7 yards per carry in three of four games this year. More importantly, the fifth-year running back has already made Giants history. His 463 yards through four games set a new franchise record, topping Tiki Barber's record of 455 yards in 2004. His performance has helped the Giants average an NFL-high 192.5 rushing yards per game, their most through four games since 1956 (207.3) when Vince Lombardi was offensive coordinator.
The Packers have struggled to stop the run in three of four games this year. While they held the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to just 34 rushing yards in Week 3, the other three opponents they faced each had over 125 yards on the ground, including two games with over 165 rushing yards. Green Bay ranks 22nd in the league having allowed 126.8 rushing yards per game, while opponents have averaged 5.0 yards per carry against them. In last week's win over the Patriots, Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris combined for 152 yards and a touchdown on 32 carries (4.8 avg.).
Although the run game is certainly a significant reason for the Giants' 3-1 start, the clutch performance of the defense has been equally as important. The Giants enter this weekend's matchup ranking ninth in the league in scoring defense, having surrendered just 17.8 points per game. However, the unit has really been stepping up in key situations through the first month of the season.
"I think that anytime that you hold a professional football team to no touchdowns in a game, you walk away really proud of how the guys played," said defensive coordinator Wink Martindale. "That's how it was last Sunday. Our fans did a tremendous job again of making it tough on the offense. I really think that defensively that we're getting full use out of the home field advantage and that's great to see. This is a tough challenge. We're going to go over to London and represent this great game. We're excited about that. Going against one of the best quarterbacks of all time is a great challenge for us to see where we're at."
Martindale's unit has held opponents to a 29.4 conversion percentage on third down, the second-best mark in the NFL. The Giants' red zone defense has also stood out, as the unit ranks second in opponent red zone touchdown percentage (35.7 percent). The success continues even when you extend out of the red zone, as they are tied for the second-best mark in opponents inside the 30-yard line touchdown percentage (25.0). The Big Blue defense also has the sixth-best opponents three-and-out percentage (25.0).
"I think the guys, the players themselves, have really studied the game, especially situational football, different things like third down and red zone," said the defensive coordinator. "They've really done a nice job of studying not only what we're doing as a defense but what the offense does. It's going to be a great challenge this week."
View photos from practice at Hanbury Manor ahead of Sunday's matchup with the Packers in London.
Dexter Lawrence is coming off perhaps the best game of his young NFL career. Going up against the Bears, Lawrence registered two sacks, three quarterback hits, five total tackles and eight total pressures. This performance earned him an outstanding 92.7 overall grade, including an elite 93.8 pass rush grade. With fellow defensive lineman Leonard Williams out for Week 4 with a knee injury, Lawrence played an impressive 58 total snaps, coming off the field for only four plays.
Serving as a team captain for the first time, Lawrence has looked strong all season. His 90.0 overall grade on the year ranks third at his position, while his 90.8 pass rush mark is the highest. The 24-year-old lineman already has seven quarterback hits in 2022, only four short of his career-high of 11 from last year. He is also already halfway to his career-best mark of four sacks set in 2020, while also picking up his third career forced fumble.
"I'd always say first and foremost, you give credit to the player. Much like Saquon I would say, since I've been here, he has bought into what we're doing," Daboll said this week about Lawrence. "He's been great in the building. He's been great outside the building. He's a leader for us. He's a talented player. And I think that Coach (Andre) Patterson, Coach (Bryan) Cox, Wink (Martindale), they've done a great job with him and trying to use his strengths as his strengths. But I give most of the credit to Dexter; I think he's in a good spot. I've seen improvement from him since we've been here. But he's a talented player. I'm glad he's on our team."
"The biggest thing is you need to have a center piece of your defense and he wears that badge with pride," Martindale added. "We move him around more than what people really realize, and he's done a really nice job. The biggest thing about Dex is he's so selfless. He's just as excited for someone else to have success as he is himself. When guys start playing that way, when they start playing for each other like he has, you'll see good things come from him."
Lawrence will likely see some action against Packers guard Jon Runyan on Sunday. Runyan has been one of the top pass blocking guards in the NFL this season. He ranks sixth at the position with an 81.2 grade on 121 pass block snaps, as he has not surrendered a single sack or pressure through four games.
VETERANS STEPPING UP
The Giants have had two veteran players step up on defense in recent weeks. Jaylon Smith made his 2022 Giants debut against the Bears and immediately made his presence felt. After being signed to the active roster prior to the game, Smith played on 50 percent of the team's defensive snaps. The veteran linebacker totaled six tackles (five solo) and one tackle for loss on those 31 snaps. He earned an 83.8 overall grade for his performance, which ranks fifth among all linebackers for the season, and also picked up 80.8 tackling and 78.0 coverage grades (the coverage grade ranks ninth among LBs).
"He's very detailed," Tae Crowder said Monday about the veteran linebacker. "He came in with great energy. Being at home, you can see that he obviously wanted to get back into football. Just the energy he brings, coming back and wanting to be great and wanting to do things right. It showed at the game."
Smith will be tasked with helping the defense limit Green Bay's talented running back duo. The Packers enter this matchup averaging 145.0 rushing yards per game, the seventh-best mark in the NFL. Aaron Jones leads the team with 327 rushing yards on 48 carries (6.8 avg.), while AJ Dillon is not far behind with 211 yards on 57 carries. Both backs have scored a touchdown on the ground, while they have also combined for 21 receptions for 150 yards. Jones ranks fifth among running backs with a 79.0 overall grade.
And then there's Fabian Moreau, who joined the Giants only a month ago. In three games, the 28-year-old cornerback has allowed just four receptions for 56 yards on eight total targets. His play has earned him a 76.8 overall grade and 77.5 coverage grade, both of which rank 11th among all cornerbacks.
Aaron Robinson (knee) was placed on injured reserve earlier this week while Cor'Dale Flott (calf) has yet to practice since suffering an injury in Week 3. This has led to a bigger role for Moreau on the outside opposite Adoree' Jackson, and the two will have to bring their A-game this week against Aaron Rodgers. The back-to-back reigning MVP has had three consecutive games with 230+ passing yards and two touchdowns. While the Packers no longer have stud wide receiver Devante Adams, the duo of Romeo Dubbs (19 receptions for 184 yards and two TDs) and Allen Lazard (12 receptions for 174 yards and two TDs) presents a challenge for the Giants secondary.
The Giants welcomed a familiar face back into the fold this week as they signed Landon Collins to the practice squad. Collins spent his first four seasons with the Giants, making three Pro Bowls and being named First-Team All-Pro in 2016. The veteran safety went on to spend the next three seasons with the Washington Commanders, but is now back in his No. 21 Giants uniform.
"We do these workouts Mondays, Tuesdays, a lot of them," coach Brian Daboll said. "He happened to be a guy that had a good workout. So, really like all the players, you can see the practice squad kind of changing. It's changed a lot since we first started. It will probably change more. So, get him in. Let him learn our system and see how it goes."
"I thought his workout went well," defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said. "You've heard me say before we're a position-less defense, so we'll find some place he likes when we get him here and we'll go from there. Right now, we're all focused on Green Bay."
The 28-year-old joined the Giants as a second-round pick (No. 33 overall) in 2015 from the University of Alabama. He has started all 94 regular season and postseason games he has played, including 60 for the Giants (one in the playoffs).
The 6-0, 215-pounder's career totals include 667 tackles (474 solo), 11 interceptions, 39 passes defensed, 41 tackles for loss, 10.0 sacks, seven forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. Collins had nine tackles, including a sack, in the 2016 NFC Wild Card Game in Green Bay. He also returned an interception for a touchdown in the Giants' last trip to London back in 2016.
SCOUTING THE PACKERS
It's no secret that Aaron Rodgers is good at football. The back-to-back reigning MVP has completed 69.0 percent of his passes this season for 935 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions as he has led the Packers to a 3-1 start. Rodgers has thrown for two touchdowns in each of the last three games, with Green Bay scoring 27 points in two of those three contests.
"He's one of the best to ever do it," Daboll said Wednesday about Rodgers. "He's, much like I've said about some of the other really good players, he's fun to watch when you're not getting ready to play him. I'll be watching their offense and naturally you're just watching 12 and the things he does, how he moves people, the accuracy, off-schedule plays, and checks and things he does. He's as good as it gets and he's a hard quarterback to defend. He's impressive."
The Packers have a two-headed monster in the run game with Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. Dillon has carried the ball more, taking 57 rushes for 211 yards (3.7 avg.) and a touchdown. But Jones has been more efficient with his touches, as he's gained 327 yards on only 48 rushes (6.8 avg.). The two have also combined for 21 receptions for 150 yards and an additional score.
Green Bay's leading receiver has really begun to emerge over the last two weeks. Fourth-round pick Romeo Dubbs has totaled 13 receptions for 120 yards and two touchdowns over the last two games. The rookie wide receiver now has a team-high 19 receptions for 184 yards on the season. Wide receiver Allen Lazard is second on the team with 174 yards on 12 catches with two touchdowns, while tight end Robert Tonyan has 13 receptions for 106 yards and a score.
On the defensive side of the ball, Rashan Gary leads the way with five sacks this season, followed by 2.5 from Preson Smith and two from Kenny Clark. Green Bay's standout corner Jaire Alexander missed their Week 4 win, and it remains to be seen if he suits up for this weekend's matchup in London. Linebacker De'Vondre Campbell leads their defense with 36 total tackles.
View some of the best photos from the Giants' two previous trips to play in London.