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Five things to watch: Lions at Giants

The Detroit Lions are 1-0 on the season, thanks to a come-from-behind effort at home against the Arizona Cardinals last week.

Things get tougher this week. The Lions are on the road for Monday Night Football, facing a New York Giants team desperate for their first win of the season.

The Lions made this trip last year, and walked away with their tails between their legs after a 17-6 defeat.

Can the Lions pull off the upset on the road in front of a national audience?

Here are five things to look out for tonight:


Take a look at the five key matchups for the Lions-Giants game on Monday at MetLife Stadium.


The ultra-talented receiver has missed the last month with a high ankle sprain. He returned to practice just this week, but on a limited basis. He's officially listed as questionable.

Beckham is arguably the most important player on New York's offense not named Eli Manning. He affects so much of the way opposing defenses scheme against the Giants. He opens things up for other receivers and the run game.

If he doesn't play tonight, that certainly a big advantage for Detroit's defense.


To say the Lions' offense and special teams units started slow last week would be a major understatement. If not for the defense playing a complete game, the Lions probably wouldn't have won that game last week.

On the road, against a suffocating defense, the Lions can't afford to get in their own way early on in this one. This isn't the environment or the defense to get behind on. A better start for Detroit, especially on offense, is a must tonight.


There probably isn't a more talented secondary in the NFL than New York's. Landon Collins is one of the best safeties in the game, and it's not out of the realm of possibility to think Janoris Jenkins, Dominque Rogers-Cromartie and Eli Apple can all have Pro-Bowl caliber seasons at cornerback.

Last week, the Cardinals put cornerback Patrick Peterson on Lions receiver Marvin Jones Jr. for a majority of the game. Golden Tate and Kenny Golladay were able to step up and make plays against lesser corners. What's so difficult about playing New York is they have three cornerbacks who have all proven to be lockdown players. There's no weak link to pick on. Can Lions receivers gain separation?

This could be a game where Lions tight end Eric Ebron and running backs Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick take on a bigger share of the load in the pass game.



The Lions sit right in the middle of the league's rushing standings (16th) after racking up 82 yards last week vs. Arizona. Abdullah rushed 15 times for just 30 yards, however. The Lions started running the ball better later in that game, but overall, it was tough sledding.

This week might not be much better. The Giants' defense is very stout against the run (fourth last year). If their talented defensive front isn't making the tackle themselves, they are very good at occupying blocks and letting their linebackers run free to ball carries.

Detroit will need a terrific performance from the guys upfront if they're going to see any improvements in the run game this week.


It was rather remarkable what the Lions front seven was able to do last week vs. Carson Palmer and the Cardinals. Pro Football Focus credited the Lions with 19 quarterback hurries, which is a lot of pressure. Defensive ends Anthony Zettel (6) and Ziggy Ansah (4) led the way with 10 combined.

When Eli Manning is on, he can really be on. But when teams consistently pressure him and get him off his spot, he can make mistakes. Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin always says that his top two goals are stopping the run and not letting balls go over their heads. Next will be dialing up the pressure when Manning drops back to pass. If the Lions can pressure him the way they did Palmer last week, there's an excellent chance the Lions come home for a huge matchup against the Atlanta Falcons next week with a 2-0 record.

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