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Fact or Fiction: Predictions for Giants vs. Lions

Posted Sep 15, 2017

The Giants.com staff debates Big Blue topics as the Giants get set to face the Lions:


Matthew Stafford is the toughest quarterback the Giants face this season.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact - I’m guessing I’m the only one that is going to go with “fact” here, but I think Stafford’s physical gifts are second in the league to only Aaron Rodgers. He has sneaky mobility and keeps plays alive. He is accurate on the move and his arm strength allows him to put the ball anywhere at any time. Last week, he completed a 25-yard out route flat-footed from the pocket in the face of pressure. It was a ridiculous throw. Philip Rivers, Derek Carr, Russell Wilson and Kirk Cousins are in this conversation, as well, but I’ll pick Stafford. If he had the weapons of Rivers, Carr or Cousins, his numbers would be far better.
 
DAN SALOMONE: Fact - You’d be wrong, John. I know Stafford has his detractors, but I’ve never been one of them. He is second all-time in NFL history in passing yards per game. He is second only to Drew Brees. Peyton Manning is third. Tom Brady is sixth. Aaron Rodgers is seventh. Let that sink in.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction -  Matthew Stafford presents his fair share of challenges, but he’s not as mobile as some of the other quarterbacks on the schedule, such as the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson and Oakland’s Derek Carr.  With those two, you have to account for their abilities to run out of the pocket and extend plays, especially Wilson.  The last time the Giants played the Seahawks in 2014 in Seattle, Wilson ran for 107 yards and a touchdown and the year before at MetLife Stadium, he collected 50 yards on the ground.  I think the Lions and Raiders have much more dangerous personnel around the quarterback than the Seahawks, but if you’re just looking at the signal caller alone, Wilson tops the list because of his versatility.

B.J. Goodson will lead the team in tackles on the year. 

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction - The only reason I’m picking “fiction” here is because I believe Keenan Robinson will come back and take over third down duties. Once that happens, Goodson won’t be on the field enough to lead the team in tackles. That will fall to Landon Collins. If Goodson does play every down as middle linebacker, however, he will lead the team in tackles.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact - Heading into the season, I thought it would be a slam dunk again for Landon Collins. But there’s a problem. The All-Pro safety can’t tackle anyone if the linebacker has already gotten to the opposing player. I think they found a diamond in the fourth round with Goodson, who was a tackling machine at Clemson.
 
LANCE MEDOW: Fact - If Week 1 is any indication, how can you say fiction.  He collected 18 tackles in his first start at middle linebacker and, most important, was on the field a lot as he had 73 snaps (99 percent of the team’s defensive snaps).  The latter stat is a sign the coaching staff has confidence in keeping him on the field for passing downs, meaning he’ll have more opportunities for tackles.  Although Landon Collins has led the team in this category in each of the last two seasons, I think Goodson is a serious threat to that trend continuing.


The team with the most rushing yards on Monday night will win the game. 

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction - This might sound odd, but I don’t think the rushing game for either team will be much of a factor on Monday night. Both teams struggled to run it in Week 1. The Lions slowed down David Johnson to boot, while the Giants have one of the best run defending defensive lines in football. I don’t think Ameer Abdullah, who ran mostly outside the tackles last week, will have much success for the Lions.  This game should come down to the two quarterbacks and who makes the biggest plays and fewest mistakes.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact - Both these quarterbacks are capable of winning without the running game being a major factor. However, my train of thought is that whichever team does lead in rushing yards means that the same team is ahead in the fourth quarter. 

LANCE MEDOW: Fact - The Giants and Lions have struggled to run the football in recent history, as both teams have ranked in the bottom half of the NFL in rushing yards per game in each of the last three seasons.  Detroit actually hasn’t finished better than 28 in the league, during that time.   Last week, the Lions only ran for 82 yards but held the Cardinals to 45 and won the game.  With the Giants, it was the reverse, as Big Blue was outgained, 129-35, on the ground and lost to the Cowboys.  By running the ball effectively, Dallas was able to put together lengthy drives and gain a huge advantage in time of possession.  The team that can best duplicate the Cowboys’ game plan will be in a much better position to walk away with a win.  That was the case last season when the Giants beat the Lions, 17-6, in Week 15.  Despite both teams’ struggles on the ground throughout the season, the Giants outgained Detroit, 114-56.

The Giants will get their first interception of the year against Detroit.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact - There’s one matchup in this game that should really scare the Lions and their fans: Olivier Vernon vs. Greg Robinson. The Lions were supposed to have former first round pick Taylor Decker start at left tackle this year, but he tore the labrum in his shoulder back in June. They traded for Robinson, a former first round pick from the Rams, to start there until Decker returns. Robinson has not lived up to his draft position (2nd overall pick in 2014) and Vernon should be able to apply a lot of pressure from Stafford’s blindside. I think one of those instances will turn into an interception for the Giants defense.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact - This defense, especially the secondary, is too good to go multiple games without a pick. Now, it did take them a while to get the ball rolling last year, but once the floodgates opened, they started to come in bunches. This could be one of those games against a true gunslinger.

LANCE MEDOW: Fact - Takeaways are a fluky stat, which is completely unpredictable.  With that being said, Stafford has thrown at least one interception in each of his last five regular season games dating back to last December, including one courtesy of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in Week 15.  Based on that trend, I’ll say the Giants chances are favorable.