It could be a big step forward for the New York Giants this week, the possibility to get a 10th win and solidify a grip on a wild-card berth. But the Detroit Lions, with their own playoff ambitions, create several matchup headaches, not the least of which is their resiliency this season.
The Giants, now 9-4 following a Sunday home win over the Dallas Cowboys, have now won seven of their last eight games. The defense is playing well despite the loss of Jason Pierre-Paul for the next month. But that offense … oh my. Just 10 points against Dallas and they had two fumbles and an interception.
That’s the kind of football that might get you into the playoffs with a talented defense but won’t get you too far.
Detroit, for their part, come in with five straight wins and have won eight of their last nine games.
Three things to watch from the Giants in Week 15:
The comeback kids
The Lions did it again on Sunday, getting to 9-4 in comeback fashion in a 20-17 defeat of the Chicago Bears. Detroit has made playing catchup a trend this year but have closed out games strong, Sunday’s win the eighth comeback victory the team has had this season.
“Well, first of all, we are playing good enough defense to keep it close and within range and, secondly, I think we have guys that don’t wilt in tough situations, particularly down the stretch when oftentimes the nerves get the best of them sometimes, our guys have not shown that to be the case,” Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said this week.
“The old adage that you don’t rise to the occasion in those situations, but you sink to the level of your preparation, we try to work hard at those things and we have been fortunate to win a few.”
Not exactly thumbs … or fingers … up
On one side, Giants star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has his own thumb injury, a knock that might have led to two drops in the win over the Cowboys (although he still had a touchdown and 94 receiving yards). The Lions too have a significant player with a hand injury as their quarterback Matthew Stafford has a finger injury that seemed to affect him in Week 14, although he’s practicing in full this week.
Stafford did throw “just” 35 passes last week, the lowest passes attempted he’s had over the last three weeks. He is expected to wear a glove to help his throwing hand come Sunday.
Getting their rush on
A lot has been made about the poor play of the Giants offensive line this season, a unit that is arguably the weakest on their team. But the Lions aren’t exactly a stellar unit themselves and bottom-half in the league in a couple of key categories such as sacks (30 allowed) and giving up 62 quarterback hits on the season. In fact, their offensive line might actually be statistically worse than the Giants.
For comparison sake, the Giants have allowed 19 sacks and 42 hits on Eli Manning this season.
With the Giants pass rush against the Cowboys last week, they might be able to get to Stafford regularly.