Giants player to watch against Lions: Antrel Rolle

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

This week, the opposing player to watch against the Detroit Lions is New York Giants safety Antrel Rolle.

There will be a special prize for the first person to guess why my mind is on New York Giants turnover machine Antrel Rolle this week. If your answer involved the name "Matthew Stafford," you are correct. Stafford will be in like company on Sunday as he faces off against the current NFL interceptions leader, Eli Manning. Not to be outdone by Stafford's 3 interceptions last week against the Baltimore Ravens, Manning "two upped" him by throwing 5 of his own as the Seattle Seahawks blanked the Giants in Week 15.

I unfortunately jinxed Stafford last week by highlighting linebacker Daryl Smith's prowess in the passing game, so hopefully this week does not have a similar effect. Let's hope that Stafford spent the week working on his footwork to improve his accuracy. If he did not, safety Antrel Rolle might make the Detroit Lions pay.

The nine-year veteran and former first-round pick is having the best year of his impressive career and is one of the lone bright spots on the disappointing Giants. He leads the team with 86 tackles, 6 takeaways (6 interceptions) and 11 passes defended, and he also has 2 sacks.

Making these stats more impressive is the fact that teams have generally avoided challenging him for most of the season. For example, he saw 2 targets last week. One of those throws was completed for a 3-yard gain and Rolle intercepted the other. Pro Football Focus has given him a positive grade in seven of the last eight games, and the arrow seems to still be on the way up.

It goes without saying that Stafford cannot afford to continue his interception-happy ways. Rolle is zoned in as a ball hawk this year, so I would be more than happy if Stafford didn't feel the need to challenge him. That is probably wishful thinking, but what can you do?

Rolle's biggest impact on the game, however, may actually come in the run game. From his safety position, Rolle is a hole plugger and hard-hitting run stopper. Last week, he was credited with "stops" on 3 different running plays. Even though he starts the play away from the line, he is quick to sniff out a run and fly to the ball. That could stymie the running game to some extent, but the Lions also excel at play-actions, so it could pose a potential opportunity for offensive coordinator Scott Linehan.

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