New York Giants fans nationwide rejoiced all week long this past week, celebrating an unexpected 10-7 victory over the seemingly-unbeatable Dallas Cowboys. However, much work still has to be done for Big Blue.
This time around, the hungry Detroit Lions will come to town for a 1:00 Sunday afternoon kickoff that can be seen on FOX.
New York Giants: Offense
Despite getting the “W” on Sunday night, the Giants’ offense was, well, offensive for most of the night. Eli Manning had his third straight game of less than 200 passing yards, and had many notable gaffes, including 2 turnovers. The fall of Manning was not expected coming into the season, and it has been a key reason for the Giants’ struggles.
Luckily, Manning will earn a shot at redemption this week against a subpar Lions passing defense. It remains to be seen if Manning can rediscover the medium and deep passing attack, one of his strongest assets over his career. To do so, some receivers other than Odell Beckham Jr. and the running backs will need to get open down the field.
Another crucial part of the Giants’ offense is the running game. Rashad Jennings, Paul Perkins, and Shane Vereen don’t have the stats, but they have shown flashes of improvement recently. If the Giants can run the ball with power, they can win this game.
Detroit Lions: Offense
The Lions are an extremely pass-heavy offense; they air the ball out over 60% of the time. This is for two reasons: quarterback Matthew Stafford is having a career year, and the Lions have nothing that even closely resembles a rushing attack.
Stafford has been simply brilliant this season; he has orchestrated 8 fourth-quarter comebacks on the year, and has arguably the strongest arm in the NFL. He has only thrown 7 interceptions and boasts a 97.8 passer rating. Stafford is a big guy, but he is also very nimble. He is excellent at extending plays and will tuck the ball and run on occasion.
Stafford has no shortage of receiving options at his disposal. Golden Tate III, Anquan Boldon, Marvin Jones Jr., and Eric Ebron all have over 40 catches and have accounted for 68% of Stafford’s aerial touchdowns.
However, the lack of a consistent rushing attack has stalled the Lions at times. Starter Theo Riddick will miss this week’s contest, which puts a heavy burden on rookie Dwayne Washington.
New York Giants: Defense
Since Week 7, the Giants defense is the best in the NFL in points per game (16.1), third-down conversion rate (28.7), and red-zone defense (57.7%). The unit is also second in passer rating against (76.3) to only the Denver Broncos.
This drastic turnaround has coincided with the rediscovery of the Giants’ pass rush. Even without Jason Pierre-Paul, the Giants have been pressuring the quarterback. Romeo Okwara had a standout game on Sunday night, alongside stalwarts Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison, and Johnathan Hankins.
The Giants’ secondary has yet to crack all season long. Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and Landon Collins have been the big stars, but do not discount the contributions of Eli Apple and Andrew Adams, two rookie starters that have matured quicker than even the Giants could have hoped.
Detroit Lions: Defense
The Lions employ a similar defensive strategy as the Giants. They love to pressure the quarterback, are stout against the run, and feature a lockdown cornerback in Darius “Big Play” Slay. However, Detroit’s defense is still somewhat inconsistent on a game-to-game basis.
Ziggy Ansah is the Lions’ best defensive lineman, but he somehow does not have a sack on the year. However, he has to be licking his chops going against the Giants’ suspect offensive line.
Slay is a true shutdown corner, but he will have his hands full with Beckham Jr. on Sunday. As OBJ draws double coverage, some of his teammates may be left alone down the field in favorable matchups.
New York Giants: Special Teams
A major part of the Giants’ last win was the play of their special teams. Punter Brad Wing was rattling off precision punt after precision punt, and the coverage team was always on the spot, ready to down the ball deep in Cowboy territory.
As silly as it sounds, the Giants will need to keep using the punting game as a weapon until their offense kicks it into gear.
Detroit Lions: Special Teams
The Lions have a solid special teams unit. Kicker Matt Prater has a strong leg, punter Sam Martin only has 2 touchbacks on the year, and return man Andre Roberts has two return TDs this season (both on punts).
The Lions haven’t played in an outdoor game since October 2nd, and only play outside 3 times all season. With inclement weather in the forecast and Stafford nursing an injured finger, the Giants may have the edge they need to better the Lions.
24-20, Giants (Record picking Giants games: 9-4)