In The Primetime Lights, Detroit Travels To New York.
After Detroit finished last season with an NFL record eight fourth-quarter comebacks, they forgot how fun it was to come back in the fourth and did it again against the Arizona Cardinals. This week they go to New York to play the Giants, as they could be seeking revenge after last years lost as losing to New York would start the three-game losing streak to finish the 2016 campaign and cost Detroit an NFC North division title.
The situation has changed from last season though, as it is week two instead of week 15, it’s in primetime, and Matt Stafford has a healthy finger, just to name a few differences. While Detroit had a wild finish to their game last week, the Giants got embarrassed against division rival Dallas Cowboys. New York will want to get the first win of the season under their belt, especially at home and in front of the whole country, but it might be harder than expected.
Detroit Must Protect Stafford And Create Running Lanes
Last week the Detroit Lions faced the Cardinals in what would be a good first test for this offensive line. While Greg Robinson was the only one to allow a sack, the Cardinals defensive line isn’t as impressive as the New York Giants defensive line. Graham Glasgow was the worst offensive lineman last week, getting a 37.4 grade from PFF, he can’t have the same performance against this defensive line. Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon, and rookie Dalvin Tomlinson will have plenty of power and quickness to get to Matt Stafford.
Another thing the offensive line must do is create running lanes for the backs. Detroit was only able to run the ball for 72 yards, not counting the Kasey Redfern 10 yard rush. You can’t win every game without running the ball, Detroit knows this. If Detroit had issues creating holes against a weaker defensive line in Arizona, it doesn’t look good against a tougher line.
Defensive Line Could Feast Again
Coming into the 2017 season, many believed that the defensive line was the biggest weakness in Detroit. With starting defensive end Kerry Hyder going down for the season, it took an even bigger blow. Against Arizona, the defensive line looked better than anyone expected.
While Anthony Zettel was the only Lion to get a sack, he had a good game, getting a sack and two tackles for loss, totaling his tackles up to three. He also got enough pressure to Carson Palmer to force a bad pass that would be an interception. Ziggy Ansah returned but didn’t do much with only a tackle, but he is still working with a banged up knee and on limited snaps.
The Lions did what many think they couldn’t and that was shut down David Johnson and the Cardinals running game, holding them to just 45 rushing yards.
Now they face an easier challenge in New York.
New York’s offensive line had issues last week against Dallas, allowing three sacks and could only produce 35 rushing yards. Now while Dallas does have a better defensive line than Detroit, this could still spell good news for the Lions. If Detroit is able to create pressure, Eli Manning could do what Carson Palmer did and throw interceptions. This could be a big game for the Lions defense.
ODell Beckham Jr. Will Be The Main Factor
One man doesn’t define a team, but they can change how a team plays and if they win or lose. ODell Beckham Jr. is one of those guys and things are still up in the air for him playing on Monday. Beckham is dealing with an ankle injury that has kept him out the past three weeks, and Beckham told SportsNet Reporter Taylor Rooks that the injury,”could be as little as four (weeks) or as much as 12. Depends on the person & how quickly they heal.” Beckham Jr. is officially listed as questionable, so he is a 50/50 on Monday, but many are expecting him to be a go.
If Beckham is out there, that is bad news for Detroit, but if he is still banged up, Beckham might be on a limited snap count so he doesn’t overwork the ankle and make it worse. If Beckham plays his usual amount if he was healthy, then Detroit will be in for a long game. If he is limited, that will be better and more containable for the Lions, and of course, if he misses the game, that will be a big relief for the Lions. Last season, Beckham had six catches for 64 yards and a touchdown, but Lions fans will have one catch in their mind on Monday if Beckham plays.
This was ruled a catch. pic.twitter.com/YWasC7kbO0
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) December 18, 2016
This game determines the health and status of OBJ. If he misses the game, Detroit will win this game. If he is limited in action, Detroit will have a tougher time and it could be another fourth-quarter comeback for Matt Stafford and company. If OBJ is playing fully, Detroit loses this game.
Overall, while OBJ is questionable, I expect him to miss the game. Detroit’s secondary will have its main focus be on Brandon Marshall when it comes to defending the pass. Detroit wins 28-17.
If you would like to look deeper in this weeks game, check out Zac’s preview here.