(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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
Giants Store, and see some of the really unique items we put together.
There are some items you certainly haven't seen elsewhere, and each sale helps
out our site.
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
Lions Matthew Stafford has turned
the ball over more than any other quarterback in the past six games.
have turned the ball over 31 times, the second
most in the NFL.
Dec 29 - Redskins at Giants.