Well, there will be some downsides for the Giants when they take the field at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday to play against the Packers. Anyone who has ever crossed the pond from here to there knows how jet lag can get you to your knees for a few days before you feel normal again. When you’re craving a cold drink, keep cravings: They serve their beer cellar temperature and their soft drinks with up to one ice cube.
And, well, just steer clear of meat pies, at all costs.
But there is an overwhelming positive side: as strange as it feels to be playing an American football game on a football field, and as strange as it probably will be to have 62,850 spectators who have only a cursory understanding of the game as you look, it could be worse. It could be much worse.
It could be Lambeau Field – even in its October state, clear of snow and sleet and ice and various other hints of frozen tundra. It could be Lambeau filled to the gills with 81,441 cheeseheads staring and blaring at you, opening the kickoff for the final gun. Green Bay can be a shorter journey, taking four hours and 2,500 miles. But you have to believe that London is the more pleasant commute in this case.
And that is good. Because even though both teams are going into this game 3-1, it was expected that only one of them would be – and the Packers are probably still a little upset that they let Opening Day in Minnesota escape them the way it did. The Giants are one of the biggest surprises in the NFL, and they could approach this like a house money game – especially with Daniel Jones’ ankle barking, especially with a receiving corps so exhausted you half expected to see that Amani Toomer was added to the roster this week alongside Landon Collins.
Oh yeah: There’s also the matter of Aaron Rodgers, still trudging and still hurling for the Packers, who escaped an angry bid for the Partiots at home last week and certainly hopes to make quick work of the Giants regardless of their record . Rodgers would be a problem in Wisconsin, in the UK, at the equator, at the North Pole…
Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale succinctly summed up that task: “Against one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, it’s a big challenge for us to see where we stand.”
Head coach Brian Daboll added to the chorus: “You prepare as hard as you can every week, he’s just one of the best he’s ever done. So it is clearly quite a challenge because of his talent, his experience and what he does on the football field. He is one of, not only the best quarterbacks, but also the best players who have ever played.”
Just like safety Xavier McKinney: “He’s one of the best quarterbacks he’s ever done. Very dynamic. For us, we just need to get out there and be ready to perform. It will definitely be fun to play against him, and of course the guys around him are very good too. It will be a challenge for us as a defense and as a team. I think we know that.”
Giants quarterback Daniel Jones hasn’t yet been measured for a bust in Canton like Rodgers has — but luckily for the Giants, his pale ankle didn’t need to be fitted for a cast either. He looked mobile, if a little sluggish, in the video of the Giants’ training session an hour north of London on Friday afternoon.
So he’ll probably try, and Davis Webb will be his caddy, and the Giants can hope it doesn’t come to something extreme, like when Tom Matte had to make a quarterback in a Colts game in 1965 — or when Saquon Barkley had to just taking the baton seven days ago, with Jones serving as bait on the flanks if he didn’t stumble on the sidelines.
“We’re looking at him there and we have a game plan that we’re trying to execute,” Daboll said. “And we see him doing those plays. If we as a technical staff feel comfortable with him, and the medical staff must of course be comfortable with him, then we should also be comfortable. And I’d say, he said this recently, that he’s made progress again. I would say good progress.”
So are the Giants. Three-and-one is already progress of the highest order. Four-and-one? Maybe they should tip a few cellar temperature beers to celebrate.
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