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Film Study: Breaking down the Packers matchup

The Giants host the Packers at Metlife Stadium on Sunday. After watching the coaches tape, here's what you need to know about the Packers:

When The Packers Have The Ball

The Spotlight: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers is a dangerous player. His arm strength is elite, and he is always trying looking to get the ball down the field. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), on passes that travel more than 20 yards in the air, Rogers has completed 20 of 64 passes for 740 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions.

He makes those types of plays without turning the ball over. He has only two interceptions versus 18 touchdowns. He is completing 64.5% of his passes and is averaging 256 yards per game. He is excellent at extending the play using his mobility and making seemingly impossible throws into tight windows for big plays. Rodgers is still a master at drawing opposing linemen offside.

The Matchup: Aaron Jones vs. Giants Defense

Aaron Jones is as dangerous as a receiver as he is as a running back. The Giants will likely use primarily zone coverage and rotate defenders on Jones when they go man to man. Jones has 35 catches for 354 yards. His 10.1 yards per catch is a high number for a running back. They use him in mismatches to make big plays over the top of the defense.

Jones is an elusive downhill runner who averages 4.2 yards per carry. Effective between the tackles, he makes defenders miss and get outside. He can run through arm tackles. According to PFF, about two-thirds of his rushing yards have come after contact. His 11 rushing touchdowns are tied for second most in the league. He also has three receiving touchdowns.

Schemes and Tendencies

* Under first-year head coach Matt LaFleur and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, the Packers have altered their approach and are a run-first team. They are right around league average in terms of rush percentage overall and on 1st and 10. They like to run play action out of run looks (multiple tight end and full back personnel groups) in an attempt to get the ball down the field on go-routes and deep crosses.

* LaFleur has utilized scheme-based throws for Rodgers that gets the ball out of his hands faster. They use screens and other quick-hitters to gain easy yards. Despite Rodgers' big-play ability, Green Bay only has a league average 37 completions of 20 or more yards.

* The Packers rank only 18th in the league in yards per play (5.51) and 21st in yards per game (341.6). Thanks in part to their dedication to the running game, they do rank 6th in the NFL in time of possession.

* The Packers are converting only 33.6% of their third downs, which is tied for 25th in the NFL. Their 6.8% conversion rate on 3rd and 10 or more yards is last in the league. The Packers make up for it by being the third most efficient red zone team, scoring touchdowns on 67.6% of their red zone appearances.

* Some of these surprising offensive numbers can be attributed to Davante Adams' absence due to turf toe that kept him sidelined for four weeks in the middle of the season. In his three games since returning from the injury, he has 21 catches for 202 yards and a touchdown. Geronimo Allison, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard split the other receiver reps. The Packers are in 11 personnel (1RB, 1TE, 3 WR's) 60% of the time, according to PFF.

* Jamaal Williams has about half the carries of Aaron Jones, and is also used as a runner and receiver. He has 32 receptions, but only for 201 yards. The two are interchangeable in the offense. Williams has five receiving touchdowns and one on the ground.

* The Packers use 21 personnel 13.4% of the time, according to PFF. It's the 7th highest rate in the league in the league. Their fullback, Danny Vitale, has played 133 snaps this year and is used primarily as a blocker. He only has 7 catches for 97 yards, but he does have a reception for 27 yards this year.

* Jimmy Graham is the team's primary tight end and has 28 catches for 317 yards and three touchdowns. He is a frequent target in the middle of the field and is dangerous running down the seam with his large catch radius.

* The Packers have one of the best tackle duos in the league with left tackle David Bakhtiari and right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who may not play on Sunday due to a knee injury. Alex Light could get the start. The Packers also claimed former Patriots offensive tackle Jared Veldheer off waivers, who recently un-retired. With 113 career starts, he has much more experience than Light. The Packers 2019 2nd round pick Elgton Jenkins has been an excellent pass blocker, allowing no quarterback hits or sacks from his left guard position, according to PFF.

Keys For The Giants Defense

  1. Stay plastered to Green Bay's wide receivers until the whistle blows
  2. Limit the Packers top two playmakers: Davante Adams and Aaron Jones
  3. Put the Packers in third and long situations

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When The Giants Have The Ball

The Spotlight: Edge rusher Za'Darius Smith

The Packers' decision to spend in free agency on two pass rushers this past offseason has paid dividends. Za'Darius Smith, acquired after leaving the Ravens, lines up primarily at right defensive end. He has 10 sacks and 13 quarterback hits while lining up about 75% of the time over right tackle, according to PFF.

Smith can win bending the edge, but he also plays with excellent power at 6-4 and 272 pounds. He can put tackles on skates and ride them back to the quarterback. His length and power make him a formidable opponent.

The Matchup: Edge rusher Preston Smith vs right tackle Mike Remmers

The Packers' other big free agent acquisition, former Redskin Preston Smith, has 10.5 sacks and 8 quarterback hits, according to PFF. He will mostly be lined up over right tackle Mike Remmers. Smith wins mostly with his speed and bend off the edge. He is a relentless pass rusher and forces tackles to maintain good footwork and other fundamentals to keep him off the quarterback.

Schemes and Tendencies

* The Packers aren't a heavy blitz or stunt team, but they will use both to create extra opportunities against opposing quarterbacks. Both Smiths have gotten sacks rushing inside off of tackle-end twists, where the inside tackle will try to screen off the offensive lineman assigned to block the ends coming inside. According to PFF, the Packers get pressure on 37.55% of opponent's dropbacks, which ranks 10th best in the league. It will be critical for the Giants to pass these stunts off properly to keep the pressure off Daniel Jones.

* The Packers are also strong inside. Nose tackle Kenny Clark only has 1.5 sacks and three quarterback hits, but he is constantly trying to collapse the pocket and take away the space a quarterback needs to step up to avoid the Packers' edge rushers. Dean Lowry and Tyler Lancaster join Clark on the three-man defensive front.

* The Packers are allowing 4.8 yards per rush play (5th worst in the NFL). The Packers have only forced six rushes for negative yards this year, which is the fewest in the league. The league average is 23. At the same time, opponents have only five runs of 20 or more yards, which is tied for fifth fewest in the league. Opponents just seem to grind out moderate gains, which would explain the Packers league-worst 6.73 yards allowed per play on first down. More than 50% of opponents' runs go for four or more yards, which is the highest percentage in the league.

* The Packers have a familiar face at inside linebacker, B.J. Goodson, who is a thumper. Blake Martinez plays next to him and leads the team in tackles with 108.

* The Packers play mostly zone defense, playing man to man only about 30% of the time. They play mostly single high zone in cover three, but will mix in two deep coverages as well. Even though a big focus has been put on the Packers rush defense, their pass defense has allowed 7.64 yards per play, which is ranked 26th in the league.

* The Packers top cornerback, Jaire Alexander, has had some spectacular games. He often draws the opposing team's best player. Veteran cornerback Tramon Williams is the team's other outside cornerback and has only allowed 21 catches for 290 yards all season, according to PFF. Kevin King plays the nickel spot and leads the team with three interceptions.

* The Packers have allowed 43 completions of 20 or more yards, which is tied for 8th most in the league. Opposing quarterbacks have a 116.7 quarterback rating on such throws.

* Veteran free agent addition Adrian Amos and rookie first round pick Darnell Savage comprise a solid safety duo. Amos is plays the run well, and Savage is good in coverage.

* The Packers red zone defense has been very good. They only allow 22 points per game, 14th best in the NFL. The Packers are 10th best in the league in term of red zone defense, allowing touchdowns on only 48.65% of opponents' trips.

Keys For The Giants Offense

  1. Succeed with the run game on early downs
  2. Keep Green Bay's edge rushers off Daniel Jones
  3. Make big plays down the field in the pass game

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