Quarterback Scott Tolzien leads the Green Bay Packers into New York, excuse me New Jersey, for the biggest game of the 2013 season. Now mind you the season is not over if the Packers depart from the land of the Boss and Jersey Shore with a loss. This game is important because if Green Bay can pull out a victory the team will understand that it is capable of winning without Aaron Rodgers.
In my column last week I speculated that Rodgers might be out until the Dec. 15 game against the Dallas Cowboys. I felt that it was important that the Packers go 3-2 during that stretch without Rodgers at the helm. It is quite possible that Rodgers will press his way onto the field well before that date.
Regardless, a win on Sunday gives this team a much needed reset. 6-4 sounds a whole lot better than 5-5 with the franchise on the sidelines.
The Giants are interesting foe for the Packers at this point in the season. New York is 3-6, but has won their last three games and have given up just one touchdown in the last 14 quarters.
Eli Manning has struggled most of the season. His passer rating is a mere 68.5, down from a career average of 82.5. New York’s offensive line could attribute to his decline; they have sent Manning into the fetal position on a weekly basis. The defense of the G-men on the other hand has played exceptionally well of late.
So basically you have a game that pits an out of sorts Packers offense against an on-the-rise defense of the Giants. Taken at face value that is not encouraging. Nor is the idea of the mysterious Packers defense defending against a two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback. It doesn’t sound real promising for the Green and Gold.
The thing is every week the NFL season starts over. Going into the game against the Bears I was confident the Packers might not lose another game this season. Two weeks later I’m hoping the Pack can go 3-2 in weeks 10-14. With a victory on Sunday Scott Tolzien has an opportunity to start this season over once again and give the Packers a new lease on life.
This coming Sunday’s game against the Giants is a bit different than last week’s game against the Eagles for Tolzien. Against the Eagles there were zero expectations placed on him. Going into the game against the Giants he has had all week to not only prepare but to think about the magnitude of the game and his role in it. How he plays on Sunday I believe is a more accurate depiction of his value to the Packers.
With all that said it is not all about Tolzien.
The defense is the real difference-maker. Dom Capers needs to have his unit neutralize the Giants’ offense and have Eli Manning playing scared.
Tolzien needs to be in a position to manage the offense, not compete in a shootout. If this can be accomplished, the Packers playoffs hopes are still high. If not, playoff hopes are on life support returning to Lambeau to face the Minnesota Vikings.