Preview: Detroit Lions at New York Giants

No matter what happens in the New York Giants’ Week 2 tilt against the Detroit Lions, there will be a victorious Giants squad on the field at some point during the game.

The Giants’ 2007 squad, winners of Super Bowl XLII, will be honored at halftime, while the modern day group will take on the Detroit Lions (8:30 PM, ESPN) in the 2017 regular-season opener.

The Giants (0-1) are looking to roar against the Lions after last week’s offensive no-show, as they fell 19-3 to the Dallas Cowboys. The Giants fell behind in the first half after picking up a mere 44 yards of offense, holding the ball for under 10 minutes of game time.

The lone scoring came from a 25-yard Aldrick Rosas field goal. Linebacker B.J. Goodson also provided a silver lining, tallying 18 total tackles in his first NFL start, leading the league after Week 1.

Meanwhile, the Lions (1-0) are coming off yet another come-from-behind victory, earning a 35-23 triumph at home over the Arizona Cardinals. Trailing by as much as 10, the Lions used four Matthew Stafford touchdowns to their advantage, outscoring Arizona 20-6 in the fourth quarter. It was the Lions’ ninth come-from-behind victory over the past two seasons.


Season Series History

This will be the 45th meeting between the Giants and Lions, with the Lions holding a 22-21-1 advantage in a series that dates back to 1930. One of those early matchups includes the 1935 NFL Championship Game, won by the Lions 26-7.

The Giants are facing Detroit at MetLife Stadium for the second consecutive season, having taken last year’s matchup in December by a 17-6 final. Odell Beckham Jr. helped put the game away for the Giants with a one-handed touchdown grab in the fourth quarter, while Sterling Shepard added a score in the first quarter. Stafford was held to 273 yards and an interception, recorded by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Last season’s win continued the Giants’ recent dominance of the Lions, as New York has won four of the past five meetings. The lone exception was the season opener in 2014, a 35-14 Lions win at Ford Field. The Lions have not won in East Rutherford since 2004, and are 0-2 at MetLife Stadium.

The Giants are 22-35-1 all-time on Monday Night Football, splitting two appearances last season. Notably, the Giants’ 2011 home opener was an MNF game, as the Giants topped a St. Louis Rams teamed coached by Steve Spagnuolo 28-16.


The Competitive Edge

Unit Giants Lions
Quarterback X
Running Back X
Receivers X
Tight Ends X
Offensive Line X
Defensive Line X
Linebackers X
Secondary X
Special Teams X
Coaching X

Key Matchup to Watch

WR Kenny Golladay vs CB Eli Apple

Golladay became the face that launched a thousand fantasy football waiver wire claims last Sunday. Detroit’s third round pick out of Northern Illinois, Golladay had two highlight reel scoring grabs, including the one that put the Lions in the lead for good. It’s only been one week, but some Lions fans have already dubbed Golladay “BabyTron”, a reference to legendary receiver Calvin “Megatron” Johnson.

Meanwhile, Pro Football Focus was not kind to Apple last week, ranking him near the bottom of Week 1 cornerback evaluations, though defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo came to his defense on Friday.

Nonetheless, the Cowboys appeared to pick on Apple a bit on Sunday night (it was Apple, for example, who was victimized on that Cole Beasley “nameplate” catch), and the sophomore would like a bounceback game.

These two have faced each other before, as Golladay’s Huskies hung tough with a top-ranked Ohio State team in a 20-13 Buckeyes victory. In that September 2015 showdown, Apple held Golladay to a mere 19 yards.


Injury Report

Team Player Injury  Status
Giants LB Keenan Robinson Concussion Out
Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. Ankle Questionable
Giants LB B.J. Goodson Shin Questionable
Giants OL D.J. Fluker Shin Questionable
Lions DE Ezekiel Ansah Knee  Questionable


The Giants Will Win If….

They can gain offensive consistency. As encouraging as it is to see Odell Beckham Jr. return to the practice field, there’s no guarantee he will be at his top form, or even play, on Monday night.

The Giants needs to take chances downfield, something they were unable to do in the season opener. In last year’s game, the Giants were also able to establish some semblance of a run game, picking up 114 yards on 32 carries.

If they can establish an offensive prescience, Beckham or no Beckham, they can crack the tough core of the Lions’ defense. In addition, the Giants need to make Stafford uncomfortable in the pocket.

Despite the win, Dak Prescott wasn’t exactly posting the numbers he did last season. If they can establish an offensive prescience and rattle Stafford, they can create a lead that even Stafford can’t overcome. 


The Lions Will Win If…

Returning to MetLife is going to trigger some uncomfortable flashbacks for the Lions, who watched their two-game lead in the NFC North with three games to go start to evaporate in East Rutherford.

Stafford may be the heart and soul of the offense, but the Lions could really do wonders for their chances if they establish a run game on Monday.

Last season, their top two backs, Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick, sat out the Giants game, and Detroit was held to just 56 yards on 19 carries. Establishing a run threat would take some of the pressure off of Stafford, and perhaps allow the Lions to relax in the fourth quarter, for a change.


Prediction

You never want to label Week 2 games as “must-win”, but Monday comes pretty darn close. The Giants can’t afford to fall to 0-2 in the high-octane NFC East, and considering the upcoming slate (trips to Philadelphia and Tampa Bay await), the Giants could potentially enter October with a 1-3 or even 0-4 mark.

But with a raucous crowd at MetLife Stadium behind them–not to mention members of a team that arguably pulled off the greatest upset in football history in the building–momentum will be on the Giants’ side.

Fans should still curb the Super Bowl aspirations for the time being, and Detroit isn’t just going to roll over, but expect the Giants to use early season desperation as their fuel and steal their first win of the season.

Giants 17, Lions 13


Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490