Few would have thought that a week before Thanksgiving, the (7-2) New York Giants would find themselves one game out of first place in the NFC East.
But that’s exactly where Big Blue stands as they head into their matchup on Sunday against the (3-6) Detroit Lions. With a win, New York will end their dubious streak of five consecutive double-digit loss season and could possibly be in a tie for first place if the Indianapolis Colts defeat the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
If you just look at the two teams’ records, you would think the Giants would be heavily favored to win this game. But as it stands right now, New York is currently favored by three points. We all know the home team normally gets three points, so essentially the oddsmakers are suggesting that these two teams are evenly matched.
Let’s look at some reasons why this Week 11 clash is riddled with dangers for the New York Giants.
Detroit Lions offense is one of the best in the NFL
The reason why some feel the Lions have a good chance of pulling off the upset is that they don’t feel New York will be able to keep pace with Detroit’s high-powered offense point for point. The Lions can beat teams through the air, or with their ground game, and so far this season they’ve scored at least 31 points four times. The Giants have yet to score 30 points this season.
In addition, the Lions have the sixth-ranked offense averaging 371.2 yards per game. On Wednesday, head coach Brian Daboll was asked what he thought of Detroit’s high-power O.
“They create explosive plays. Goff plays at a high level. He’s a very accurate passer downfield, intermediate, off the play action. And then their two runners have taken it to the distance a few times. They’re both a little bit different but both very good. They’ve scored 30 points four times. In six of their losses, four of them have been four points or less. The other one against the Cowboys it was 10-6 with 3:20 left. Explosive team. Good football team. We’re going to need a good week of practice.”– Brian Daboll on Lions offense
Not only will the New York Giants defense need a good week of practice, but they’ll also need to perform better on the field than they did last Sunday against the Houston Texans.
Although New York won 24-16, the defense didn’t look sharp without safety Xavier McKinney in the lineup. Texans quarterback Davis Mills threw for 319 yards and Houston gained 101 yards on the ground.
Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff is vastly better than Mills, and the Lions have two versatile running backs in D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams who are both averaging at least 4.3 yards per carry. But perhaps the player New York must be most mindful of on Sunday is second-year wide receiver Amon-Ra St Brown.
Amon-Ra St. Brown is one of the best young receivers in the NFL
Despite missing a game this year, St Brown leads the team in receptions (49), receiving yards (518), and receiving touchdowns with three. He’s had four games with at least seven receptions, and occasionally, the Lions will give the ball to him on a reverse. After seeing how vulnerable the Giants’ secondary was last week against the pass, expect the Lions to try to get St. Brown involved early and often on Sunday.
It will be a tall task for defensive coordinator Wink Martindale’s defense to keep St Brown and the rest of the Lions’ offense in check. They’ll need another strong game upfront from Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams, and perhaps New York will use their best corner Adoree’ Jackson to shadow St Brown from time to time.
Another way to offset the Lions’ scoring capability is if New York’s offense has long sustaining drives and wins the time of possession battle. The biggest reason why Detroit has a losing record is due to the fact that they’re dead last in total defense giving up 416.2 yards per game and are 31st in run defense giving up 160 yards on the ground.
Expect another heavy dose of Saquon Barkley running the ball on Sunday. If Barkley and Jones can engineer long drives and the team converts close to 50% of their third downs, it will enhance their chances of winning by keeping the Lions’ offense off the field.
Some may look at this game as a trap game for New York as they’ll face their bitter rival the Dallas Cowboys just four days later on Thanksgiving. From what we’ve seen from the players and coaching staff this season, they don’t have the mindset to overlook any team. But if they don’t play their A game, they could suffer their third defeat of the season.