The Detroit Lions are getting set for what could amount to a make or break game against the New York Giants at Ford Field, and in order to take home a victory, they are going to have to measure up in several key ways.
Detroit hasn’t been good enough on defense the last two games in order to win, and their offense has let them down in some key moments as well.
What does the team have to do in order to right the ship? Here’s a look at some of the key matchups which will determine a winner in this contest by the time the game is done.
Saquon Barkley vs. Lions’ Defensive Line
Barkley might be the best young runner in the NFL right now, and the Lions are catching him at his most dynamic time. Detroit has struggled stopping the run in recent weeks, and now they have to deal with Barkley, who will be a pain to them in terms of grinding out tough yards. Barkley’s favorite runner growing up was Detroit legend Barry Sanders, and it’s neat to see such a classy young player breaking into the league with such talent. The Lions will have to be very aware of Barkley and his ability to bust the long run on their defense. He’s a constant home run threat in this game, and the biggest worry for the Lions defense. Detroit’s line needs to step up and finally stop a rival runner, which they haven’t done consistently this year.
Giants’ Cornerbacks vs. Lions’ Wide Receivers
Detroit’s combo of Marvin Jones and Matthew Stafford produced 4 touchdowns on their own this past week. Kenny Golladay is dangerous, and the Lions’ tight end group can catch as well. Knowing this, there’s going to be a ton of pressure on what is a very sub-par secondary to rise up and perform in this game. Can they do it? They will be challenged in a big way in order to do so given the elite nature of this group. The Lions might well have another big day passing the ball like they did against Minnesota.
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Daniel Jones vs. Matt Patricia
Though his defense has been put through the ringer a bit this season, Patricia is notoriously tough on quarterbacks, slowing some of the best in the game in recent memory. Coming into Detroit could be rough on the rookie, and Patricia has to keep it that way and not let him get comfortable. Jones’ first major win opened eyes in Tampa Bay, but since then, it’s been nothing but interceptions and inconsistencies. The Lions will represent a challenge for Jones given all the looks they can throw at a quarterback, and the Ford Field environment will also be a test for the rookie. Detroit has to generate some pressure on Jones and force mistakes, so that will put pressure on his offensive line to step up. Patricia has to scheme a winner of a plan to stop the rookie.
Giants’ Defensive Line vs. Lions’ Running Backs
The Lions have run the ball a bit better than expected so far this season, but now that Kerryon Johnson is out, that production figures to take a huge hit. It will be on the trio of Ty Johnson, J.D. McKissic and the newly-added Paul Perkins to give the Lions something out of the backfield to grind out the yardage. If this group struggles, the Lions could become woefully one dimensional, which would be bad news for this game. If they can run as well as pass, it will make them more dangerous to a New York secondary which has struggled this season. All of it could hinge on the front’s ability to make Detroit’s uncertain backfield perform poorly.
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