It has only been three regular season weeks since the Detroit Lions and the New York Giants last faced off, but a lot has changed since New York walked away with a 17-6 victory in Week 15 of the 2016 season.
Both teams are obviously a bit healthier. For Detroit, most notably, Matthew Stafford no longer has a special glove for his finger, Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick are as healthy as ever and Darius Slay will (hopefully) play for more than half the game.
The Giants have a healthy Jason Pierre-Paul, who missed last year’s game.
But the difference goes well beyond that. Both teams made big moves this offseason and have looked quite different in just one week of the 2017 season. Here’s a look at how the Giants have changed and their outlook for this year.
Key additions: WR Brandon Marshall, TE/FB Rhett Ellison, OL D.J. Fluker
Key losses: DT Johnathan Hankins, WR Victor Cruz, TE Larry Donnell, RB Rashad Jennings, CB Coty Sensabaugh, CB Trevin Wade, DB Leon Hall, OT Marshall Newhouse
Key draft picks:
- TE Evan Engram (Round 1)
- DT Dalvin Tomlinson (Round 2)
- DE Avery Moss (Round 5)
2017 season results (0-1)
Week 1 - at Cowboys - Lost, 3-19
Reasons the Lions should be optimistic:
Week 1 of the regular season is enough to be optimistic, specifically, when it comes to the Lions defense. Against a below-average offensive line the Lions were able to create enough disruption to force Carson Palmer into a lot of mistakes. The Giants offensive line is apparently in crisis after their Week 1 performance against the Cowboys. They were particularly vulnerable at the tackle positions, which should make Anthony Zettel a hungry, hungry man:
The #Lions also got a very good performance from Anthony Zettel who earned an 87.9 grade while racking up 5 qb pressures and 2 run stops.— Brett Whitefield (@PFF_Brett) September 12, 2017
Additionally, the Lions offense that was stifled in last year’s matchup is much, much healthier. Last season, Stafford was playing in his first game with a modified glove for his mangled finger, and in rainy New York, no less. Additionally, Detroit will now have the services of Abdullah and Riddick, two key players that were out last year.
The Lions played a similarly tough defense last week against the Cardinals, and although they had some early struggles, they eventually fought their way to four offensive touchdowns against a good secondary. The Giants have as good of a secondary as the Cardinals, but it appears, given some time, the Lions can frustrate even the best defensive backs.
Reasons the Lions should be pessimistic
Odell Beckham Jr. The Giants offense looked impotent without him, and Brandon Marshall didn’t even catch a ball until the final 30 seconds of the game. But with Beckham likely back this week, it could change the entire landscape of the Giants’ offense. Last year, Beckham wasn’t a huge factor, pulling in just six catches for 64 yards and a touchdown, but with the Giants offense looking for answers, they may try to rely heavily on the star receiver, and that could open up opportunities for Marshall, as well.
Also, the Giants defensive line is worthy of some fear. While New York only got to Dak Prescott once all game, they were hurrying him through all four quarters, forcing Prescott to have an inaccurate day (61.5 completion percentage). Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon and Dalvin Tomlinson are no joke. And don’t expect the Lions running game to have a resurgence this week.
This matchup for the Lions already looks a lot better than it did last year. In just one week, the Lions proved they could put up points against a good defense, and they’ll certainly have to again this week.
While it’ll take a little more convincing for me to believe in the Lions defense, there’s no reason to think their success can’t continue for another week. The Giants offense looks like it may even be worse than last year, and it was pretty bad last season. Still, the addition of one superstar like Beckham can change the entire scope of a game.