LIONS INSIDER

GAME PREVIEW: Lions have no choice but to get back on track

Posted Dec 22, 2013

If the Lions want any chance to make it to the postseason, they will have to take care of business today vs. the Giants

It's a simple formula for the Detroit Lions the rest of the way. They need to win their next two games to even have a shot at the playoffs and that starts this afternoon against the New York Giants.

The Lions can worry about what Chicago and Green Bay are doing after taking care of their own business, which has been tough for them four of the last five weeks.

Here's a closer look at today's matchup.

HISTORY

The Lions-Giants series is one of four (Arizona, Chicago, Green Bay) in franchise history that dates back to 1930. Sunday will be the 41st meeting between the two with Detroit holding a slight 20-19-1 edge.

The Giants were the opponent for the first game ever played in Detroit. The Lions won 9-0 of Sept 23, 1934 at University of Detroit Stadium.

New York beat the Lions in their last meeting, 28-20, back in October of 2010 in New York.

A LOOK AT THE STATS

 LionsGiants
Record 7-7 5-9
Points per game 25.9 (8t) 17.9 (30)
Total yards per game 405.3 (3) 311.6 (28)
Rushing yards 112.9 (18) 83.5 (28)
Passing yards 292.4 (3) 228.1 (19)
Points allowed 24.2 (17) 25.2 (13)
Total yards allowed 351.6 (16) 336.4 (10)
Rushing yards allowed 98.6 (4) 107.4 (12)
Passing yards allowed 252.9 (21) 229.0 (11)
Turnover ratio -13 (29) -17 (31)

BY THE NUMBERS

16: Sacks given up by the Lions offensive line in 559 pass attempts this season.

69.7: Passer rating for Eli Manning is the lowest of his career

18: Turnovers for the Lions in their last 20 quarters.

5 KEYS

Matthew StaffordThe Lions have surrendered just 16 sacks this season. (Photo: G. Smith/Detroit Lions)

KEEP STAFFORD CLEAN

Last week vs. Seattle, the Giants sacked quarterback Russell Wilson four times. It marked the fifth time the Giants had four or more sacks in a game this season. New York has averaged 3.29 sacks per game in their last seven games.

The Lions have done a good job keeping quarterback Matthew Stafford protected all season with only 16 sacks allowed. They’ll have to continue that trend today.

How much of an impact will not having tight end Brandon Pettigrew factor in the protection schemes?

ESTABLISH THE RUN

The Lions can help take some pressure off Stafford by establishing Reggie Bush and the rushing attack. That won’t be easy task, however.

The Giants have allowed an average of just 57.3 rushing yards to starting running backs over the last 11 weeks. Only San Diego’s Ryan Matthews has rushed for at least 100 yards over that span.

In three career meetings with the Giants, Bush has rushed for 100 yards twice.

If the Lions become too one-dimensional, Stafford and the offensive line could be facing a full assault from the Giants front seven.

FORCE THE ISSUE

The Giants lead the NFL with 39 turnovers and Manning has thrown a league-leading 25 interceptions.

The Lions defense has been good against the run, good on third down and has played well in the red zone. They haven’t, however, generated a lot of big turnovers this season. The Lions have scored just twice on defense, but not since Nick Fairley returned a fumble Week 4 vs. Chicago.

The Giants offense has allowed six return touchdowns this year (3 INT, 3 FUM).

GO TO MEGATRON EARLY AND OFTEN

Johnson had a couple key drops last week vs. Baltimore and will no doubt be looking to make amends this week.

Megatron should have a distinct advantage over the cornerbacks he’ll see throughout the game. He’s likely to see Prince Amukamara, Trumaine McBride and Jayron Hosley as the Giants don't typically follow receivers around the field with specific cornerbacks.

Amukamara is six feet tall, but McBride is only 5-foot-9 and Hosley is 5-foot-10.

MAKE THEM EARN IT

The Lions turnover problems have been an issue all year, but especially the last five weeks. Detroit simply can’t get out of their own way when it comes to the turnovers.

If the Lions don’t kill drives with turnovers, they should score enough points to beat a less talented Giants team.

The Giants are 5-0 this year when they allow 20 points or less. They are 0-9 when allowing more than 21 points.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: LIONS

Ndamukong Suh/Nick Fairley, DT:

The talented pair is likely to face to very inexperienced pair of guards in James Brewer (four starts) and Brandon Mosley (no career starts). With starter David Diehl doubtful because of a knee injury, Mosley could get his first career start. That’s advantage Suh and Fairley.

Joseph Fauria, TE:

The Lions have ruled out tight end Brandon Pettigrew because of an ankle injury. That means Fauria is likely to see a lot more reps. Fauria has 12 catches and seven touchdowns on the year, but hasn't made much of an impact beyond the red zone.

Jeremy Ross, WR/KR:

The Giants have allowed three punt return touchdowns this year and are last in the NFL giving up an average of 13.9 yards per return. Ross has already returned one punt for a touchdown this year. A second could help spark a Lions victory.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: GIANTS

Justin Tuck, DE:

Tuck leads the Giants with nine sacks on the year, but 7.5 of those have come over his last four games. He's on a hot streak and that’ll be a tough matchup for Lions rookie right tackle LaAdrian Waddle.

Andre Brown, RB:

Brown leads the Giants with 441 yards rushing this season. He’s scored 11 rushing touchdowns over his last 15 games.

Jerrel Jernigan, WR:

The job of replacing Pro Bowl slot receiver Victor Cruz will fall on Jernigan, a third-year pro out of Troy. Jernigan was productive in the role last week, however, with seven catches for 67 yards.