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5 things to watch: Lions at Giants

The Detroit Lions are looking to make it three straight wins and two consecutive on the road as they square off against the New York Giants later today.

It will be a terrific test for Detroit's young defense against one of the best rushing teams in the NFL. The Lions' offense will try to keep it rolling and could potentially get some help back at wide receiver.

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


Giants running back Saquon Barkley leads the NFL with 931 rushing yards and ranks second with 1,128 scrimmage yards. The Giants are third in the NFL in rushing, averaging 164.8 yards per contest on the ground.

"You talk about vision, you talk about being able to break a tackle and take it the distance," Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said of Barkley this week. "That's the one trait that you see with him that's unlike any other back that we've went against.

"So, the ability to make sure we get the ball down is important with that player."

Glenn has preached getting population to the football today. The Lions come in ranked 31st in run defense (160.9).

The Giants average just 161 yards passing per game, however. If Detroit can make quarterback Daniel Jones have to beat them, that's advantage Lions.


Not yet obviously, but a win today on the road against a team in the thick of the NFC playoff picture would go a long way for this young Lions football team.

It was good to get the monkey off their back last week with the win in Chicago, the first road win of the Dan Campbell era in Detroit. Two in a row would put any stigma this team might still have about being able to take the show on the road and win games firmly in the rear-view mirror. That kind of confidence can be big for a young football team trying to turn the corner.


It's a real credit to offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, quarterback Jared Goff and the rest of the players on offense that they've been able to stay relatively consistent (minus the clunker in New England) despite the multitude of injuries they've had to deal with, especially at the wide receiver position.

The Lions have scored over 30 points in four games this season, tied with four other teams for the most in the NFL. They are top 10 in the league in points per game (24.3), total offense (371.2) and passing offense (241.4).

Could help be on the way for the depleted receiver corps? Yes and no.

The Lions activated wide receiver DJ Chark off injured reserve on Saturday. He's missed the last six games due to a left ankle injury.

Wide receiver Josh Reynolds returned to practice Thursday after missing the last two games with a back injury. He was listed as questionable to play, but was downgraded to out on Saturday.

The Lions haven't had their full complement of receivers since Week 3.

It will be no easy task for the Lions' offense today against a good New York defense that ranks ninth in points allowed (19.2), second in third-down defense (32.7 percent) and second in red-zone defense (38.2).


Four takeaways by the Lions' defense have helped secure two wins the last two weeks. They intercepted Aaron Rodgers three times in a 15-9 win a couple weeks ago. And cornerback Jeff Okudah's fourth-quarter pick-six off Justin Fields was the biggest play in last week's 31-30 win in Chicago.

"Look, we need a takeaway," Lions head coach Dan Campbell said this week. "This [Giants] team's not doing it, but we have to get a takeaway. That's something we've been good at the last four or five weeks. We need it. It's helped us."

The Giants are plus-four in turnover ratio this year and their eight total giveaways are second fewest in the league. Quarterback Daniel Jones has only thrown two interceptions all season. One thing to watch out for: Three of those eight New York giveaways have come on punt returns.

Turnovers are the biggest statistic in football in determining wins and losses. Can the Lions' defense come up with another big one today?


Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux won't directly square off against one another today, but the two will forever be linked as Top 5 picks and pass rushers in this year's NFL draft.

The Lions opted to take Hutchinson with the No. 2 overall pick. Thibodeaux went to the Giants at No. 5.

Thibodeaux suffered an MCL injury late in the preseason and battled through that early in the year, and up to this point, Hutchinson has had the better statistical start to his rookie season.

In nine games, Hutchinson has 5.5 sacks, 10 QB hits and 15 total pressures. He has a sack, hit or hurry on 6.1 percent of his pass-rushing snaps, per Pro Football Focus.

In seven games, Thibodeaux has one sack, three QB hits and seven total pressures. He has a sack, hit or hurry on 4.5 percent of his pass-rushing snaps.

"I see a dynamic young player right now that's getting better every week," Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson said of Thibodeaux. "You see the traits that twitch as a pass rusher right now where he's going to be a handle as he continues to get reps and experience – and really, I mean he's a freak athletically, so you've just got to – we've got to be aware of where he's at."

Which of these two rookie pass rushers has the bigger impact today?

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