Considering the additions the Detroit Lions made to an already stacked receiving group, during most weeks it will be wise to watch and see how the opposition deals with their big time play makers.
This week, however, given the similar bevy of offseason additions made by the New York Giants to their defensive backfield, the key matchup of the first game of the year is even more worth watching.
Last season, throughout a down year, the Giants didn’t struggle much with with pass defense, ranking 10th in the league. All they did was decide to get better. This past year, they added cornerbacks Dominic Rodgers-Cromartie, Walter Thurmond, Zack Bowman and safety Quintin Demps. Suddenly, a group which had already played well had plenty of quality depth.
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Detroit’s offense, featuring Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew, Joseph Fauria and newcomers Golden Tate and Eric Ebron will certainly provide them a new challenge. Last season, the Lions had only 207 yards against the Giants, and Johnson himself was limited to 43 yards.
This year, the focus might be less on Johnson and more on players such as Ebron, Tate, Pettigrew and Fauria. How the Giants are able to deal with the playmaking ability of all three will go a long way in determining if they can win on the road. Anything less than 2013’s result might not be good enough.
New York contained secondary receivers well last year. Combined, Kris Durham, Kevin Ogletree, Fauria only tallied 86 yards and no scores. With Tate, the Lions have their ideal piece to complement Johnson. Though the Giants secondary has been solid and certainly could be elite, this will be the problem many teams face in 2014 when playing the Lions. Simply, the defense must pick their poison.
This year, the focus might be less on Johnson and more on players such as Ebron, Tate, Pettigrew and Fauria. How the Giants are able to deal with the playmaking ability of all three will go a long way in determining if they can win on the road.
If Detroit gets things going vertically, it will be a long night for the Giants. Should they not be able to, it’s more than likely that New York will be able to tee off on Matthew Stafford and win a game similar to their grinder last year.
It’s not stating the obvious to suggest that week one’s result is dependent upon Detroit’s receivers and New York’s secondary; it’s simply the football truth.