Skip to main content

5 things to watch: Lions at Giants

The Detroit Lions (9-4) take on the New York Giants (9-4) today in a matchup with huge playoff implications.

The Lions are trying to keep their distance from Green Bay and Minnesota in the NFC North, while New York attempts to keep pace with the first-place Dallas Cowboys (11-2) in the NFC East.

The winner of this game will also claim a very important tiebreaker if the wildcard comes into play between these two.

Detroit is trying to win their sixth straight contest. New York is trying to win their sixth straight at home.

Here are five things to watch in today's monster NFC matchup:



Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford injured the middle finger on his throwing hand last week vs. Chicago. He played the rest of the game, and hasn't missed any practice time this week, but how might the injury affect him?

He wore a special glove at the open portion of practice this week that covered his middle finger but left the other four fingers exposed. Velocity could be the one area where the injury affects him the most.

"I'm going to try to prepare throughout the week like it's a game, whether that's glove or not," Stafford said Wednesday. "I'm still working on it, but whatever I end up doing in the game will not just be a guess. It will be something I've worked on."

It's certainly something to monitor early on in today's game, especially on the out routes and the intermediate to longer throws.


This game has some pretty big playoff implications in the NFC.

The Lions are two games up in the division, and could clinch the NFC North, with a little help. They'd win the division if they win and Green Bay loses/ties, or if they tie while Green Bay loses and Minnesota loses/ties.

This game will also decide the tiebreaker between these two 9-4 teams if the wildcard comes into play.

Who plays better football in December with so much at stake?


The Lions have been to the red zone nine times in their last two games, and have come away with a touchdown just three times. They've gotten away with it, thanks to their defense, against New Orleans and Chicago.

But Detroit has a tough schedule to finish out the season, and they can't afford to leave points off the board by settling for field goals instead of touchdowns.

They'll be tested on that front once again this week. The Giants rank first in the NFL in defensive red zone percentage. They have only allowed a touchdown on 43.2 percent of opponent red zone trips.


Beckham, the 2014 NFL Rookie of the Year and a two-time Pro Bowler, is among the leaders in numerous receiving categories this season. He's tied for fourth with 79 catches, fourth with nine touchdowns, and is tied for the NFL lead with six catches of 40-plus yards. He has six touchdowns in his past five home games.

He's one of the most exciting young players in the NFL, and someone Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin will have to have a keen eye on.

"He's like a video game, I tell you," Austin said this week of Beckham. "Sometimes you look at it and you go, well he shouldn't be able to get by, these are NFL guys and you've seen him make this play and he gets by him, so he's a special talent.

"I just think that he's a special player and we've got to make sure that we try to contain him the best we can, that he doesn't have those breakouts."


The Lions will be without starting center Travis Swanson (concussion), and could be without starting running back Theo Riddick (wrist) today.

That puts added pressure on an offense that was already facing a tough task against a very good Giants defense.

New York's allowed the third fewest yards per rush, and the fifth fewest yards per pass. They're also allowing the seventh fewest points (18.8 per game).

The teams that have had success against them have been able to attack the middle of the field and get players in space against the linebackers.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content