Giants.com's Dan Salomone highlights five takeaways from the latest team practice and media hour:
1. PLAYOFF ATMOSPHERE
There are still 26 teams in postseason contention heading into Week 15, but the Giants and Lions are more than mathematically alive as they get set to square off Sunday at MetLife Stadium. They are looking to punch their tickets as soon as this week. At 9-4, Big Blue can clinch a spot with a victory on Sunday, a Washington loss (vs. Panthers), a Minnesota loss or tie (vs. Indianapolis), and a Green Bay loss or tie (at Chicago). Detroit, which is also 9-4, can clinch the NFC North with a victory and a Green Bay loss or tie.
"For us to be here where we are, standing at 9-4 with playoff contention right there on the horizon, it is definitely fun to be here and to understand that the offense hasn't reached that top pinnacle of where we want to be and we know it is coming," said wide receiver Victor Cruz, who was an instrumental part of the Giants' last postseason run in 2011. "We know it is only a matter of time and hopefully it is this week and hopefully the consistency continues from here on out, so we will see how it goes, but we are definitely excited to be in this spot and this position and want to be able to capitalize on it."
2. INJURY REPORT
In East Rutherford, linebacker Keenan Robinson (shoulder) and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (core muscle) did not participate in practice. Safety Nat Berhe (concussion), long snapper Zak DeOssie (hamstring), defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins (shoulder), linebacker Mark Herzlich (concussion), defensive end Owa Odighizuwa (knee), left guard Justin Pugh (knee) and running back Shane Vereen (concussion) were limited.
In Detroit, defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (shoulder), running back Theo Riddick (wrist) and center Travis Swanson (concussion) did not practice. Tight end Eric Ebron (knee), linebacker DeAndre Levy (knee), cornerback Darius Slay (hamstring) and running back Zach Zenner (concussion) were limited. Quarterback Matthew Stafford (right finger) was full-go.
3. RULE OF 53
In his journey to becoming an NFL head coach, Ben McAdoo picked up the "Rule of 53" and he applies it to this day. The number represents the ideal combination of completions and rushing attempts throughout the course of a game that gives a team the best chance to win. While they didn't hit it last week – the offense had 33 rushing attempts and just 17 completions – McAdoo was happy with the way they committed to run and forcing Dallas to defend an entire game.
"It greases your opportunities for attempts at the plate," McAdoo said of the rule. "It moves the chains a little bit more. You don't have to rely as heavily on third down when you complete the ball on first and second down and get a lot of rushing attempts. And it gives you a good opportunity, dating back to my time in Green Bay, to win the ball game."
4. ALL FOUR QUARTERS
Like the Giants, Detroit is no stranger to photo finishes this season. Only one of its nine victories has been decided by more than seven points, while five have been decided by a field goal or less. That includes last week's 20-17 victory over Chicago in which Matthew Stafford ran in for a seven-yard touchdown that proved to be the game-winner with 3:17 left on the clock. So fans won't want to leave their seats early on Sunday.
"I expect this to be a very intense game between two hungry teams, teams that are trying to solidify themselves in making the playoffs," wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said. "Right now, it's one game at a time. You never know what could happen."
5. DEFENSE NOT SATISFIED
Coming off an emotional win like last week against Dallas could lead to a letdown the following game. But the Giants' ears are up for any signs of that this week, especially for a defense that has been praised – rightfully so – all week for its most dominant performance in recent memory. Players like Landon Collins are guarding against anyone being satisfied.
"As a leader, you take it to practice," the safety said. "We showcase where we could have been beat or where we need help at and we stay on top of that and make sure that we read our keys and be sound in those positons because any given moment, you can get beat."
A look at the expected starters for the Giants' Week 15 opponent