The Lions Go To New York To Take On The Giants.
This Sunday’s game between the New York Giants and the Detroit Lions may be the biggest game to be played in the NFL this week. Playoff scenarios will be affected across the entire NFC when it comes to this contest. Whether any of the other teams in the NFC admit it or not, as soon as they are off the field, or before they take the field, they will be checking their phones to see just who won in Met Life Stadium.
Hell, they may even keep in contact with each other using walkie talkies. Oh wait, I forgot. Only seven year olds and the New York Giants use walkie talkies to communicate. Too soon? I couldn’t help myself, sue me. Now that I’ve got my sophomoric humor out of the way, let’s get to my keys of the game.
During the game itself, a big time special teams play may in fact still be one of the most exciting parts of NFL football. Writing about it? Not so much. Let’s not be fooled however, special teams could play a big factor in this game. Especially with the weather predicted to be somewhere in the 40’s with varying predicted levels of rain.
New York Giants punter Brad Wing was voted as the NFC Special Teams player of the week after the Giants 10-7 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. Against the Cowboys, Wing pinned them inside of their own 20 yard line on five separate occasions. On 76 punts this year, Wing averages 44.5 yards.
The Detroit Lions have a pretty good punter of their own in Sam Martin. However, the biggest factor on special teams for the Lions will be none other than Matt Prater. Big surprise right? Prater is no stranger to being voted as the NFC Special Teams player of the week himself.
Last earning the nod after netting five field goals in the Lions 28-13 victory against the New Orleans Saints. Keep an eye on the weather in this matchup. Much has been said about Stafford struggling this weekend in the cold, rainy game but it may be Prater that will need to overcome the conditions more than anyone else. Prater has been incredible this season, albeit mostly indoors.
If you’re looking forward to a Lions victory, let’s hope that the cold and the ice water running through Prater’s veins mesh nicely.
Slay vs OBJ
This matchup would make a nice main event for any fan to look forward to. However, it may not take place exactly how many folks out there predict that it will. Teryl Austin has faith in everyone on his Detroit Lions defense. Traditionally, Slay tends to play on the outside. Odell Beckham Jr. however will line up all over the field for the Giants offense.
Last week, in could be argued that one big play by OBJ made up the entirety of the Giants offensive production. On 2nd down and 10 against the Cowboys, Beckham used his speed to take a short pass and turn that into a 61 yard touchdown. I do not see Slay lining up against Beckham in the slot to defend against this type of play on Sunday. Teryl Austin’s faith in his scheme and the protection he dials up to defend against OBJ inside will be a huge factor in shutting down the inside the park homerun type plays that Beckham is capable of pulling off.
But just because they may not match up on every down don’t think that Darius Slay won’t have to perform big time on Sunday. Although on Friday Slay was listed as questionable for the game, we all know that at some point in this game the Lions defense will need a big play.
Can “Big play” Slay deliver again? Slay has recorded two interceptions this season, both happening during the closing moments of games. These two big personalities will both be under the microscope all day on Sunday. Let’s just hope that Slay survives the test.
If he does, he may be happy enough to really rip out OBJ’s heart and become “Mr. Steal Your Girl” by proposing to the New York Giants kicking net himself.
Matthew Stafford And The Middle Finger
I couldn’t preview the game without talking about the obvious. It is speculated that Stafford dislocated his finger in last weeks win against the Bears. Rumors from torn ligaments, to breaks and even thumb injuries filled the week as far as Detroit Lions news went.
Things at this point have become a little bit clearer. We know it’s the middle finger, and only the middle finger. We all saw the tape on Stafford’s injury. We all know why it’s there. We just don’t know what it means, at least not yet.
Word out of Allen Park is that no one expects the injury to be a factor in either the gameplan or Stafford’s play. Stafford tossed two uncharacteristic interceptions against the Bears, both taking place after his finger was injured.
The first, in the end zone could be argued to be nothing more than a bad bounce. The second, a little more concerning.
Has he lost his zip, did the Bears just have his number, or was he not used to throwing with a glove, especially as it was nowhere in the game plan? I stand to believe we will have a better answer as far as these questions go after this week’s game.
With 22 TDs on the year and seven INTs on the year, it is critical for the Detroit Lions not only in this game, but for the rest of the season, that number nine can still be the number nine he has been in this 2016 season. Arguably it has been his best season thus far in his NFL career.
New York will have its eye on Stafford’s middle finger. And with their incredibly effective blitzing ability on defense, at the first sign of weakness look for every Giant on deck to swarm Stafford with bad intentions. Detroit’s improved defense may have to stand on it’s head if the previous scenario becomes a real life scenario.
If it does, they may be in luck. This year Detroit’s D, although not statistically frightening, can land a big punch when needed. Eli Manning has 23 TD passes this season giving him a +1 advantage over Matthew Stafford. However with 13 INTs, the Lions may be licking their lips.
Eli Manning without a doubt is in a slump recently. Scary thing is, so was Aaron Rodgers earlier this year before facing the Detroit Lions. In fact, even Matt Barkley didn’t look like Matt Barkley last week, because he actually looked pretty good. With little to no pass rush for the better part of the season, Eli Manning could very well get back to form against a Lions defense that despite the big play when needed, statistically make all quarterbacks they face look like Super Bowl Champions.
So how is this going to shake out? I have no crystal ball, and I admittingly bleed blue and silver. However unlike many I believe that the Lions can win this game. If they avoid giving up the homerun defensively and do not turn the ball over, there is a path to victory.
Detroit Lions 20, New York Giants 17
Now with that being said, let’s all become Bears fans for one week only as well. With a Lions victory and a Packers loss, by 5 p.m. on Sunday the Lions will be NFC North Champions and we can all party like it’s 1993.