Were the Detroit Lions a mirage? They were looking like a team that had started to mature in the second year of Matt Patricia’s tenure. But a 2-3-1 record hasn’t gotten them too far in the NFC North. So they are, on the surface, struggling.
Or maybe the mirage is that they are NOT good enough to compete and contend. They won two games over the Chargers and Eagles, played three quarters of great football against Arizona before having to settle for a tie, came to within four points of Kansas City and Patrick Mahomes in a game that was absolutely winnable, and were robbed by some bad officiating against Green Bay.
The only real dud was last week against Minnesota, where they lost a 42-30 decision. So, even though they’re 2-3-1, are they superior to the New York Giants, enough to lay almost a touchdown?
Are we talking silly, maybe?
We’ll see about that. And then we’ll find out for sure on Sunday at 1 PM ET at Ford Field.
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One of the things Patricia hoped to be doing with the Lions was creating a ground game that could command the attention of the opposing defense, as a way of taking the pressure off Matthew Stafford. Kerryon Johnson was central to that, but now he has gone on injured reserve with a knee injury, so there will be more of a “committee” approach with Ty Johnson, JD McKissic (7.3 ypc on 15 carries) and Tra Carson. Johnson had averaged 3.3 yards a pop, so maybe the loss isn’t huge, although somehow the hole has to be filled, unless they want to go back to a philosophy of Stafford airing it out first, second and third.
The Giants don’t have too many concerns about a ground game as long as Saquon Barkley is healthy. Last year’s top rookie returned from an injury to put together a 72-yard day, and let’s face it, with the ups and downs Daniel Jones is going to have to go through as a rookie quarterback, he needs all the support he can muster.
In the NFL odds that have been placed on this game, the Lions are favored:
Detroit Lions -6.5 (-115)
New York Giants +6.5 (-105)
Over 49.5 points -110
Under 49.5 points -110
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Barkley has a high ankle sprain, but he is going to be out there on Sunday. They can’t afford to be without him. But one guy they’ll have continue doing without is Sterling Shepard, who is now going to miss his third straight game with his concussion.
So the Giants will have one less receiver to attack the Lions with. And Detroit will have two less defenders out in the secondary. Safety Quandre Diggs was traded to the Seattle Seahawks for a draft choice, and this seemed to be a decision that caught some of his Lions teammates by surprise. That included Darius Slay, who is not happy and now out with a hamstring problem.
Sunday is National Tight End Day (I hope that’s not a gag) and both teams will be well-equipped for it. Evan Engram (34 catches, 379 yards) is taking on an increasing important role for Jones and the Giants,especially with Shepard shelved. And rookie TJ Hockenson is a guy the Lions love having around and expect a lot more production out of.
The script would appear to demand a lot of passing here. The Lions may not get far with their running game, and they are thin in the secondary. Neither team has what you might call an imposing pass rush. So it would not be surprising to see this go OVER the 49.5-point posted total.
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