The Detroit Lions begin their 2014 season by hosting the New York Giants on Monday Night Football. Both teams suffered lack-luster seasons last year, and both teams are looking to make a return to the playoffs. A big season-opening win on MNF could help generate some early season momentum on the way there.
Both the Lions and Giants have new offensive coordinators implementing new offensive schemes. The Lions have brought in Joe Lombardi, formerly of the Saints, to help solidify one of the league’s most talented offensive units. The Giants have brought aboard Ben McAdoo, formerly of the Packers, to help turn around a formerly Super Bowl winning offense. Both offenses have big time talent at QB and WR.
Both teams have had their problems on offense, too.
The Lions and The Giants have had recent problems with turnovers. Additionally, both teams have had trouble with injuries. The Lions have had injuries to receivers primarily, while the Giants have dealt with injuries on the offensive line. The Lions have struggled with dropped passes, and the Giants have struggled protecting the QB. Obviously, both teams seek to correct these issues and improve on fundamental football.
Lions Defense v. Giants Offense
The Lions have an incredibly tough defensive line. Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and Ezekiel Ansah are all talented and ferocious. This is a unit that likes to dominate and get after the QB, playing tough for the entire game. The Lions linebackers have also played very well, with DeAndre Levy and Stephen Tulloch playing solid. In the past, there were injury problems at safety, but the problem was removed and James Ihedigbo was brought in to play alongside Glover Quin, solidifying that unit as well.
None of this bodes well for the Giants offensive line, which is dealing with injuries and possible substitutions right now, or run game, which has been overhauled. Their O-line isn’t set yet, much can happen, but it is safe to say that the Giants are going to have a tough day with a healthy Detroit D-line, and backed by Levy, Tulloch, Ihedigbo and Quin, the run game of the Giants with newcomer Rashad Jennings may struggle. If the Giants offensive line can’t effectively block, that whole offense will be in for a rough night on the national spotlight.
The Giants have a very talented QB in Eli Manning however, and a dangerous receiving pair in Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle, with a possible rookie playmaker in Odell Beckham Jr. There is probably no way to lock this group down completely, and taking into account how lousy the Lions secondary played last year, this could be a problem for Detroit. To win this game, the CB position is going to have to step it up, or its going to be mariachi time at Ford Field.
Lions Offense v. Giants Defense
The Lions are returning this season with a VERY talented offensive unit. All positions are well represented, with a young and very skilled O-line blocking for Matthew Stafford and Reggie Bush. Add that to receiving duo Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate, and there isn’t much to laugh off when facing Detroit’s offense.
The Giants major defensive weapon is Jason Pierre-Paul, and no matter how talented the Lions O-line might be, JPP represents a problem. He is definitely going to get his hits in, and he must be accounted for. In the secondary, expect Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to be covering Megatron. Rodgers-Cromartie is an excellent DB, but Calvin is the best receiver in the game, and is unlikely to be shut down by anyone.
This game looks a bit lopsided in favor of the Lions. While the Giants definitely have the ability on offense to be competitive, it just looks (on paper) to be a win for Detroit… even though NY won the last meeting. This is a revenge game for the Lions, and although it’s still early, it doesn’t look good for the Giants.