(9-4) vs Lions (9-4)
It was another come
from behind win for the Lions in their game with the Bears last Sunday. Detroit
has now won their last 5 games in a row with that 20-17 score over the Bears.
Cowboys had lost just one game this year, and it was to the Giants in the season
opener. They built up an impressive 11-1 record, but the Giants took them down
again in the rematch, winning with a 10-7 score.
Giants - Cowboys
Caldwell had been the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts from 2009-11. Caldwell
worked three seasons as a quarterbacks coach before becoming an assistant head
coach, and has worked with Peyton Manning, Joe Flacco, and now Matthew Stafford
for three years. Caldwell became the head coach of the Lions in 2014, and got
the team off an 11-5 record in his first year, and into the playoffs as a wildcard,
but they were one and done.
Last year they were struggling with a 1-7 record,
but things changed when they promoted Jim Bob Cooter, the team’s quarterbacks
coach, to offensive coordinator. With Cooter calling the plays they went 6-2 over
their last eight games. If not for a 20-13 loss to the Houston Texans a few weeks
back, they would currently be on a nine game win streak. The Lions currently have
the lead in the NFC North division with three games left to play.
Stafford suffered torn ligaments and a dislocated middle finger on his throwing
hand in the first quarter of the Bears game last Sunday. He's had one week of
practice to determine the effects of the injury and how to adjust to it. Stafford
threw two interceptions while trying to play through the injury last week, and
when faced with a 2nd and goal at the Bears 7 yard line, he opted to run the ball
into the endzone for their go ahead score. Whatever style protective glove he
chooses to use, the passing game should be affected, at least for the deeper throws.
That won't stop Stafford from trying to get the ball in the hands of his favorite
target, Golden Tate, who leads the league with his 516 yards after the catch.
Anquan Boldin is the next leading receiver, followed by running back Theo Riddick.
They were without Riddick last week against the Bears, with wrist and ankle injuries,
and he is listed as doubtful on the injury report. Another running back, Zach
Zenner, is returning from a concussion and is questionable. That leaves rookie
Dwayne Washington, who ran for a career-high 64 yards last week.
unit can get pressure on a quarterback, and their best at it is defensive end
Ziggy Ansah. Actually getting to him for a sack has been their problem. Last year
they had 43, and that tied them for second. So far, they have just 22, putting
them second-to-last in the league. Kerry Hyder leads the team with eight of those
sacks, and was a nice surprise for the Lions. After being on the Jets practice
squad in 2014, and doing the same for the Lions in 2015, he's played in every
game this season. Tackle Haloti Ngata is their
big run stopper, and the Lions haven't allowed a team to top 100 yards rushing
this season, except for their loss in Week 8 to the Texans.
In the secondary
they are aware that without a big pass rush they have to be alert. Darius Slay
is their top cornerback and will keep an eye on Odell Beckham Jr. At free safety,
Glover Quin is one of the best at preventing deep throws. The Lions have allowed
only six passing plays of 40 yards or more, to help hold teams to less than 21
points a game. Overall this defense will give
you some yards, but they buckle down when it comes to points, and they have had
six interceptions in the final two minutes of games this season.
Left guard Justin Pugh will be
back for this game, coming off of a knee injury that had him missing the last
five. The Giants offensive line can use some help, as they are slumping in total
yardage, especially in the running area, where they average less than 80 yards
a game. Last week the rushing game averaged only 2.8 yards per carry, and Manning
continues to look totally uncomfortable in the pocket. He threw an interception
and lost two fumbles. The passing yardage is sinking, and Manning hasn't thrown
for over 200 yards in the last three games. Ereck Flowers might catch a break
this week. Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah had 14.5 sacks in 2015, but is still
looking for his first, after dealing with a lingering ankle injury, and now a
shoulder sting he suffered last week.
Running back Rashad Jennings leads the team with 459 yards rushing, and
Shane Vereen was cleared from his concussion protocol and is expected to play
against the Lions. Having Vereen on the field is a big help, especially with Manning
having problems getting the ball to Victor Cruz and Sterling Shepard. Of course
they'll be calling on Odell Beckham Jr. to do the heavy lifting. He leads the
league with six catches of at least 40 yards or more. The offense will move Beckham
into the slot and to both sidelines to find the best matchups for missed coverages.
Jason Pierre-Paul will be out for
the rest of the regular season, and undrafted rookie Romeo Okwara stepped in as
his replacement, and did a fine job. Okwara recorded eight tackles, three quarterback
hits, one sack, and one pass defensed. They did well against the Cowboys and quarterback
Dak Prescott, who they sacked three times. Overall they forced three turnovers
and held Dallas to 260 total yards.
The Giants are the NFL's eighth-ranked
rushing defense, and this week they're up against the Lions, with a poor running
game even when they are healthy. Lions receivers Golden Tate, Anquan Boldin and
tight end Eric Ebron always present a challenge, and Marvin Jones, averaging better
than 17 yards a reception, is a deep threat, but with Stafford playing with a
hampered throwing hand, it's hard to imagine many plays going his way.
the division is a long shot, but it all starts with the Giants beating Detroit.
If the Cowboys don't continue to falter, winning here still puts them in good
contention for a playoff spot. Matthew Stafford won't be playing at a hundred
percent with his throwing hand issues. You also can't forget that he's the third
leading rusher in yardage on his team. It's hard to imagine him being anxious
to take any additional hits in his current condition. The Giants defense has been
playing strongly, and they should win in their last regular season home game on
NFC East Games
Sunday at 1:00pm Eagles (5-8) at Ravens (7-6)
at 1:00pm Lions (9-4) at Giants (9-4)
Sunday at 8:30pm Buccaneers (8-5) at
Monday at 8:30pm Panthers (5-8) at Redskins (7-5-1)
Giants, Redskins and Cowboys are the NFC East teams favored to win in these games.
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Brad Wing last week was named as the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week.
opponents have been held to 20 or fewer points in five of the team's last six
Giants' 6-1 record at
home is tied for their most victories in a single season at MetLife Stadium since
its 2010 opening.
Giants can clinch their
first postseason berth in five years this week with a win, a Washington loss,
and a loss or a tie by both the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers.
have had eight comeback victories in 2016.
Lions have turned the ball over just 10 times this season, only two other teams
have done better.
Lions Matthew Stafford
has thrown 42 touchdowns, and just one interception from the red zone in the last
Lions can clinch their first
division title in 23 years with a win, and losses by Minnesota and Green Bay.
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Dec 22 - Giants at Eagles.
Jan 1 Giants at Redskins.
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