Lions at Giants
▶ Kickoff: 1 p.m. Sunday, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
▶ TV/radio: FOX/97.1 FM
▶ Records: Lions 3-6, Giants 7-2
▶ Line: Giants by 3
Nolan Bianchi of The Detroit News breaks down the Lions’ Week 11 matchup against the New York Giants.
LIONS’ SITUATIONAL OFFENSE VS. GIANTS SITUATIONAL DEFENSE
The Lions’ offense has been one of the league’s best since Week 1, but at times has slipped due to its inability to sustain second-half drives and convert in high-leverage situations. Case in point: The Lions rank sixth in total offense (371.2) but are converting on third downs at a rate (40%) that ranks 19th. While facing short yardage on third and fourth downs, the Lions are converting just 53.3% of their chances and gaining an average of 2.4 yards on the ground.
The opposite can be said for the Giants’ defense, which is giving up the 18th-most yards per game (350.2) but ranks ninth in points per game (19.2) because of the league’s second-best third-down (32.7%) and red-zone (38.2%) efficiencies.
If the Lions want to hang with the Giants this Sunday, they’ll need to convert in short-yardage situations to sustain drives and capitalize on their opportunities in the red zone against a defense that’s hell-bent on preventing both those things.
Giants to watch
▶ RB Saquon Barkley: The only person with more scrimmage yards this season than Barkley is some guy on the Dolphins named Tyreek Hill, so the Lions are probably going to give Barkley a great deal of attention this weekend. Last week, Barkley took a career high in rushes (35) for 152 yards and a touchdown against Houston, becoming the first player to rush for more than 150 yards in two games this season. After three injury-riddled seasons that saw him produce just 58.2 yards per game over 28 appearances, Barkley currently ranks first in the NFL in touches (227), rush yards (931) and rushing yards per game (103.4) — and is public enemy No. 1 for the Lions’ defense this weekend.
▶ DL Dexter Lawrence: Lawrence is the fiercest defender on a defense that’s coming off a season-high four-sack performance. This season, he has 33 tackles, a team-high 5.0 sacks, four tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a whopping 16 quarterback hits. If Lions center Frank Ragnow (foot) can’t go or is ailing for the game, a lot of pressure will be put on Detroit’s interior offensive line to handle Lawrence and his defensive tackle partner in crime, Leonard Williams.
▶ QB Daniel Jones: Jones is quietly putting together the best season of his NFL career, as the Giants have gotten off to a 7-2 start. He hasn’t thrown an interception in six games (145 passes), the longest active streak in the NFL. He’s also put together five game-winning drives this season, has an 8-to-22 touchdown-to-interception ratio, and last week against Houston captured the highest single-game passer rating (153.3) of any quarterback this season. He may not have the skill or athleticism of some other quarterbacks Detroit has faced, but he brings a unique set of problems to the table for opposing defenses.
Facts and figures
▶ Despite some pretty favorable defensive rankings and a pair of nasty interior defenders, New York’s rushing defense has been pretty subpar so far this season. They rank 24th in total rushing defense (133.2) and are allowing 5.4 yards per carry, more than any team in the NFL (including the Lions, who give up an average of 5.3).
▶ Sunday’s game will mark the first time that the Lions will play former receiver Kenny Golladay since the former third-round pick signed a four-year, $72 million contract (with $40 million guaranteed) with the Giants ahead of the 2021 season. Over 19 appearances, he’s caught 39 passes for 543 yards — and no touchdowns. Despite that, he still ranks No. 1 in yards per catch (16.3) amongst all receivers, dating back to 2017.
▶ Five of the Giants’ seven wins have featured a comeback in the second half, where the team is out-scoring opponents, 120-85, this season. They are just the third team ever to win five games while trailing in the second half of their first seven games. Talk about “Dagger Time,” eh?