The Lions host the Giants on Monday night in an unlikely prime-time matchup, given the struggles of both teams last season. But what the two franchises lack in win production in recent seasons, they make up with star power on both sides.
Both have new offensive regimes. The Giants have first-year offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, who is forcing quarterback Eli Manning to learn a new offense for the first time in his 11-year career, and the Lions boast head coach Jim Caldwell as their new leader and offensive guru. The Giants offense has looked unsteady and unsure in the exhibition campaign, while the Lion offense has looked seamless in their transition, as they’ve focused on correcting their turnover woes from last season.
Three things to watch for ...
1. Who blocks Suh?
The talented and motivated Ndamukong Suh, who’s in a contract year, will face an overhauled Giants’ offensive line that has already been decimated by injury. The interior of the offensive line is where Suh customarily creates his most damage as a disruptive pass-rushing defensive tackle. Big Blue will try to contain the All-Pro Suh with the likes of first-year Giants center J.D. Walton, who has barely played in the last two seasons due to injuries, rookie Weston Richburg and former Miami Dolphin John Jerry. Good luck with that.
2. Chemistry class
The Giants’ starting offense has been awful to date, and of all the offensive issues perhaps the biggest reason to worry is the lack of chemistry between Manning and his wideouts — particularly Victor Cruz, who had minimal success in the preseason. Manning and Cruz have been one of the league’s best passing duos since the explosive wideout broke onto the scene, but with a new-look and intricate West Coast offense and lack of a real No. 2 option opposite Cruz to deflect attention, the Lions must be licking their chops at the thought of facing the still-broken New York offense.
3. Throw it up
The Lions don’t have such offensive troubles, however, as they boast a quarterback in Matthew Stafford who routinely throws for 4,000 yards in a season, and arguably the best wideout in the league in Calvin Johnson. The new-look Lions offense, under the tutelage of Caldwell, has looked sleek and efficient in the preseason and will look to attack a revamped Giants’ secondary. Big Blue has stellar holdovers in Pro Bowl safety Antrel Rolle, a burgeoning star in cornerback Prince Amukamara and the return of former Pro Bowl safety Stevie Brown to go along with new additions in corners Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Walter Thurmond. The battle between the Lions’ passing attack and the Giants’ secondary makes for one of the game’s most intriguing storylines.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.