Team Giants


Giants - Lions
Game 15 preview
Sun Dec 22, 4:05 PM - Giants at Lions

Giants (5-9) vs Lions (7-7)
On Monday night the Lions were on their way to a win when a long 61-yard field goal put Baltimore ahead 18-16 with only 38 seconds left on the clock. It gave them their fourth loss in five games as they continued to self destruct from once having the lead in the NFC North.
Last Sunday the Giants planned to come off playing a bad game against the Chargers, but instead did even worse against the Seahawks. They lost the game 23-0, and for the second time this season they failed to put points up on the scoreboard.

Detroit Lions.
Back in 2008 they became the first team in the NFL to go 0-16. The Lions improved on that in the following years with two wins and then six before going 10-6 to become one of the wildcard teams in 2011. They exited in the first round, ousted by New Orleans. Last season the Lions took a big step backwards, winning only four games and finished up the season losing the last eight straight. What happened? Well, while their quarterback, Matthew Stafford, has thrown for 5,038, and 4,967 yards respectively in the last two seasons, his touchdowns dropped from 41 to 20 during that same period.
One big problem was that defenses recognized that there was no running game to fear, just Stafford's arm, and they keyed on his receivers. The fix for 2012 was the addition of running back Reggie Bush who is dangerous with the ball, running or catching a short pass. Defenses had to pay more respect up front to the Lions balanced offense. Things were going very well until the Lions dropped four of the last five games. Now if the Bears and Packers both win this week, the Lions are done. Head coach Jim Schwartz, who has taken them on this shaky five year ride, will likely be done as well.

Lions Offense.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford did not have a very good game last week, throwing three interceptions. In his last five games he's had 12 turnovers that include two fumbles. Not helping is the fact that Stafford's pass-catchers are leading the league in drops. His top receiver Calvin Johnson, nicknamed Megatron for his size and hands, has 81 receptions on the year, but he dropped two critical third-down passes in last weeks loss. Johnson is second in the league with 1,449 yards, coming off a season where he set the NFL single-season record with 1,964 yards receiving.
Reggie Bush has 940 rushing yards and is second to Johnson with his 47 receptions. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew is a top notch blocker and is a big receiving target for Stafford. He's the third leading receiver on the team 41 catches, but he was ruled out for this game because of an ankle injury. Overall, Stafford is very talented, but has been playing poorly and he's been especially bad in the fourth-quarter over the last five weeks. Stafford is starting to get a 'Tony Romo' tag - that he's a top notch quarterback and plays extremely well except when it matters the most.

Lions Defense.
This unit plays tough. Even losing last week, all the Ravens offense could muster was six field goals, including that long 61-yarder in the final seconds to steal the game. The unit is much better at stopping the run than they are defending against the pass, but it should be noted that they are the leading defense in stopping teams on third downs and in the red zone. Defensive end Ziggy Ansah, their first round draft choice, has learned fast. He leads the team and all the NFL rookies with 7 sacks.
Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has been to the Pro-Bowl twice. He knows how to bring pressure and has 5.5 sacks on the year.
Suh works with Nick Fairley to keep opposing offenses on their heels. Their weak secondary won't have to worry about Victor Cruz who was injured last week and is out for the season. Jerrel Jernigan played well filling in for Cruz and he will draw their attention. It's interesting that cornerback Bill Bentley knows Jernigan, having played against him in their college days, but that can benefit either one of them in that matchup.

Giants Offense.
What can you say about an offense that's been shut out for the second time in this season when no other team has been shut out even once? You could say that unbelievably, things could get worse. It started earlier in the week when you heard that David Diehl and James Brewer have missed practice, and remember that they are really already backups to previously injured starters. The news didn't get better when you found out that Victor Cruz, Eli Manning's main target, needed arthroscopic surgery and is now done for the year.
Last week, even with Diehl and Brewer in on 14 offensive possessions the Giants punted 8 times Manning was under constant pressure, sacked 3 times and threw 5 interceptions. The offensive line, or what they can hope to field with more backup starters, is so poor at this point that Tom Coughlin even asked Eli Manning if he was comfortable enough to play behind it on Sunday. Manning downplayed any thoughts on not playing.
The only bright spot from last weeks miserable loss was how well Jerrel Jernigan played. He was the top receiver, pulling in 7 of the 8 passes thrown his way for 67 yards. Not to be forgotten was that tight end Brandon Myers caught all 3 of his passes for 37 yards. The ground game from Andre Brown and Peyton Hillis provided only 25 yards on 14 carries, but Hillis was good, catching the ball twice when thrown to for 24 yards. Unfortunately Hillis is out for this game from a concussion and Michael Cox will have to step up.

Giants Defense.
The Giants defense can't do it all although they do try. Last week Antrel Rolle had yet another interception to give him 6 on the year to go with his 7 forced fumbles. They came away with 4 sacks on Russell Wilson and limited him to 1 touchdown pass to go with one by running back Marshawn Lynch. Two long fields goals, 49 and 44 yards and an easier 23 yarder, combined with no offensive help, gave the game to the Seahawks 23-0 in front of the die hard Giants fans who were in attendance. Earlier in the week Justin Tuck offered to effectively 'work overtime' to mimic Detroit's defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in practice on the scout team to give the offensive line some enhanced practice to better their game.
This season only two running backs have been able to crack the defense for more than 100 rushing yards in a game and Reggie Bush is up this week. Running backs have been able to work well as pass receivers against the Giants and in the secondary is where things really get tough. The cornerbacks usually play left side or right and the Lions can put 6-foot-5 Calvin Johnson wherever they like. Prince Amukamara is 6 feet tall and Trumaine McBride is only 5' 9". You can bet Stafford will be looking for that matchup.

No matter what, win or lose in the final two games, the Giants will finish in third place in the NFC East this season. It's too bad they fell so far this year because all the teams in this division seem to be trying to avoid being crowned the champion. The Redskins earned the NFC East title last season with a 7 game winning streak surge, but they nearly destroyed their quarterback in the process. The Cowboys, in their haste to find a fall guy, got rid of a talented defensive coordinator and are now paying the price. The Eagles fired their head coach and expected a breaking in period, but despite some successes they are still figuring it out.
The Giants could have won this thing in a song, but they fell into the same trap that Tom Coughlin fell into when he was calling all the shots for the Jaguars. Coughlin kept too many aging players on the roster because they were successful with the team earlier on. Jerry Reese is the general manager making these decisions for the Giants and he fell into the same trap. Reese has strong opinions and doesn't seem to be the kind of guy anyone, even a head coach like Coughlin, could sway very much, So Jerry, we have to say this season is mostly on you. Take a nice long offseason look and fix things up for next year.

NFC East
On Sunday at 1pm before the Giants play the Lions, the Cowboys (7-7) will be playing in Washington against the Redskins (3-11). The Eagles (8-6) will be playing at home against the Bears (8-6) at 8:30pm. For the second week in a row the Eagles and Cowboys are favored to win in their games. The Giants and Redskins are not. Last week all the NFC East teams lost. The Cowboys control their destiny now. If they win their game against the Redskins and next week against the Eagles, they will own the NFC East title.

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tgtwitter TeamGiants on Twitter.Notes.
Giants have turned the ball over 39 times, the most in the NFL.

Lions Calvin Johnson is the first player in the NFL to amass 5,000 receiving yards in a three-year period.

Lions Matthew Stafford has turned the ball over more than any other quarterback in the past six games.

Lions have turned the ball over 31 times, the second most in the NFL.
Next Games
Dec 29 - Redskins at Giants.
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