Nov 162007
 
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By Eric from BigBlueInteractive.com

Approach to the Game – New York Giants at Detroit Lions, November 18, 2007: This is a very dangerous game for the Giants.  The Lions are a much, much different team at home (4-0) than they are on the road (2-3).  It is almost as if they two completely different teams.  So I wouldn’t place much stock in Detroit’s defeat to the Cardinals last weekend.

Both the Giants and Lions are coming off disappointing defeats, but both are still the front-runners for the two NFC Wild Card playoff spots.  Detroit desperately needs this game.  After the Giants, their next six opponents are the Packers, Vikings, Cowboys, Chargers, Chiefs, and Packers.  Expect to receive their best effort on Sunday.

For their part, the Giants have to get their minds off the Dallas defeat quickly or they will lose this game.  They have to get angry and take out their anger on the Lions.  The Giants have lost their past two games to Lions – both games at the Meadowlands (in 2000 and 2004).  But the Giants have played well in Detroit, winning three straight (1988, 1996, and 1997).

Is this a “must win” for the Giants?  Honestly, I don’t think so.  They could lose this game and the finale against the Patriots and still finish 11-5.  But they will make their lives much easier with a win.  It will also keep the media off their backs for another week.

Giants on Offense: OK, it’s time to get this thing cranked up again.  Detroit is not very good defensively and the Giants should be able to put some points up on the scoreboard with a diversified attack.  In the dome, I expect QB Eli Manning to have a strong game.  But the one thing he and his teammates have to be careful of is the turnover.  Detroit is leading the League in turnovers with 28 (15 interceptions, 13 fumble recoveries).  The Lions’ secondary is suspect however.  Detroit is 30th in pass defense, allowing over 250 passing yards per game.  Look for Plaxico Burress, Amani Toomer, and Jeremy Shockey to make plays down the field.  We may even see Sinorice Moss finally make a play on the quick turf.  CB Travis Fisher on Burress is a mismatch the Giants must exploit.  LCB Fernando Bryant, the Lions’ best corner, has been bothered by a foot injury.  The free safety is a rookie.

The Lions are better against the run, allowing less than 100 yards per contest (ranking 8th in the NFL).  The heart of their defense is NT Shaun Rogers.  Look for a real war between him and RG Chris Snee.  The under tackle, Cory Redding is no slouch.  He was franchised by the Lions in the offseason and can be disruptive.  LG Rich Seubert will be tested.  It might behoove the Giants to stick with the off-tackle runs.  The Lions are much weaker at defensive end with Kalimba Edwards and DeWayne White, the latter being bothered by an elbow injury that has caused him to miss practice time this week.  While attacking the 30th-ranked pass defense is necessary, the Giants should not overdue it and remember to pound the football with Brandon Jacobs.  The Lions’ linebackers are quick, but small.  They won’t be looking forward to running into Jacobs.

The unit that needs to rebound from last week?  The Giants’ offensive line.

Giants on Defense: What do we know about the Giants’ defense this year?  They have given up 45, 35, and 31 points to teams with good passing attacks.  They have thrived against opponents who don’t pass the ball well.  That doesn’t bode well for New York since the Lions can throw the ball well.  The one Wild Card is that while the Cowboys and Packers pass protect well, the Lions do not.  Detroit has allowed 40 sacks already this season.  Their offensive coordinator, Mike Martz, has never been a big fan of the max protect scheme.

The problem for the Giants is that the Lions can put four quality receivers on the field.  Two of them – Calvin Johnson and Roy Williams – are size/speed mismatches for most teams.  Mike Furrey and Shaun McDonald are productive and steady.  I’m not sure Sam Madison and Aaron Ross can cover the top two guys and I’m not sure the Giants’ reserves can cover Furrey and McDonald.  Johnson has been bothered by a back injury however that has limited him.

The Giants have to be careful not to underestimate the Lions’ rushing attack.  The Lions were embarrassed last week by rushing for –18 yards against the Cardinals.  However, the Lions vowed to be more committed to the rushing game and HB Kevin Jones, who has a sore foot but will play, is elusive and can make the big play.  He also catches the ball well out of the backfield.

The Lions don’t pass much to the tight ends with the top receivers being the four wide receivers and Jones.

This game will be won or lost defensively by the pass rush.  The Giants need to get to Jon Kitna (who is completing almost 68 percent of his passes) before he can get the ball out to his dangerous targets.  Get to the quarterback.  Get the man.  Osi Umenyiora needs to have a big game – it’s been a while for him and he’s leading the NFC defensive Pro Bowl voting largely due to his one-game performance against a back-up player.  Michael Strahan should feast on RT George Foster.  The Giants need more dynamic play from Barry Cofield and Fred Robbins.  In obvious pass rush situations, with the tight end not being a big concern, the Giants should bring Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka.

Special Teams: Ahmad Bradshaw once again showed he is dangerous on kickoff returns.  He just needs to hold onto the ball.  I’d like to see a big game from David Tyree this weekend – maybe a blocked punt.

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Eric Kennedy

Founder and owner of BigBlueInteractive.com, which is now entering its 20th season. Follow Eric on Twitter @BigBlueInteract.

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