Fresh off their Week 1 victory over Arizona in which their defense shone, the Detroit Lions (1-0-0) travel to Met Life Stadium to take on the New York Giants (0-1-0) on Monday Night Football. The Giants are coming off a crushing loss to one of their NFC East rivals, the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas dominated the Giants and won by a final score of 19-3. With the Giants looking to prove their poor showing in Week 1 was simply a fluke, the Lions will have to be on edge and do these three things to secure a victory.
The Lions defense looked great throughout the whole game against Carson Palmer and the Cardinals offense, but they will have to play even better if they want to beat the Giants in their home stadium. Though Eli Manning and his offense struggled in their first game against Dallas, that doesn’t mean they are going to come out stale against Detroit as well. The Lions defense needs to continue to force turnovers and shut the star players down. The more turnovers they force, the better chance they are going to have of walking away 2-0 on the season. Sounds obvious, right? Well, it is!
Shut Down the Stars
If the Lions can shut down Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, and Eli Manning, then the team will be in good shape. Cornerbacks Darius Slay and Nevin Lawson need to prevent both OBJ and Marshall from having a big game, but for that to happen, the pass rush needs to pressure Eli Manning as much as possible. The more pressure put on Eli, the more bad decisions he is going to make, leading to more turnovers and better chances to win the game.
Matthew Stafford and the Lions offense cannot afford to turn the ball over against this Giants team. Any chance that they give Eli and his offense to score, he is going to do whatever he can to get in the end zone. One turnover last game allowed the Cardinals to put seven points on the board like it was nothing. The Lions must secure the ball on every play and do everything they can to not turn the ball over.
Establish the run
One thing that the Lions offense struggled with last game was establishing a good run game. Six players combined for a total of 82 rushing yards in the win over the Cardinals. If Detroit really wants to do some damage against the Giants, then will have to get their run game going. If Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick can average at least 3-4 yards per carry, then Detroit will be in good shape. If the run game gets established, it opens the door for more play-action and helps receivers get open.
Continue to succeed on third down
Although going 50% on third down conversions is good (the league-best is usually around 48% for the season) the Lions could improve that number against the Giants. If the Lions can convert on 50-60% of their third downs on Monday night, it will put them in a good position to win the game. The more often they convert on third down, especially when it is third and short, then the less we have to send the punt team to the field and give the ball back to New York.