Can't Fall Into The Trap
THE SCOUTING REPORT WHAT: Detroit Lions (1-4) vs. Giants (3-2) WHEN: Sunday, 1 p.m. at the New Meadowlands Stadium SERIES RECORD: The teams have faced each other 40 times since 1930, and the Lions lead it 20-18-1. LAST MEETING: Nov. 18, 2007. The Giants won in Detroit 16-10 as Michael Strahan recorded three sacks and the the secondary picked off two passes in the final two minutes of the game. The Lions converted only one third-down opportunity. Eli Manning hit Brandon Jacobs on a 10-yard scoring pass, and Lawrence Tynes hit three field goals. INJURIES: Giants – T Will Beatty (knee), DE Mathias Kiwanuka (neck), FB Madison Hedgecock (hamstring), S Brian Jackson (neck) and WR Victor Cruz (hamstring) are out. LB Keith Bulluck (toe), C Shaun O'Hara (Achilles/ankle), RB DJ Ware (groin), and PK Lawrence Tynes (ankle) are questionable. S Kenny Phillips (knee) and DE Osi Umenyiora (knee) are probable. Lions – LB DeAndre Levy (ankle/groin), DE Turk McBride (ankle), and CB Nathan Vasher (Nose/biceps) are out. WR Calvin Johnson (shoulder/knee), LB Landon Johnson (concussion), and QB Matthew Stafford (shoulder) are questionable. RB Jahvid Best (toe), WR Nate Burleson (ankle), S Louis Delmas (groin), and WR Stefan Logan (foot) are probable. WHY THE GIANTS WILL WIN: The Lions don't run a lot, but they'll probably try to establish the ground game immediately with Best, one of the top ground-gainers after the first hit. The front seven will have to scheme and be sure of their tackling to bring down this 5-foot-10, 199-pound rookie who leads all rookie running backs with 241 rushing yards, 25 receptions, and 254 receiving yards. Assume that the Lions' top WR Calvin Johnson will play. With Best, Johnson, and pass-catching tight end Brandon Pettigrew, the Giants will make extensive use of their three-safety package, with either Antrel Rolle or Deon Grant walking down into the box as a hybrid linebacker. They'll need that bulk and flexibility to handle an offense that just put up the bulk of a 44-point effort against the Rams last week. Look for big pressure up the middle from DT Barry Cofield in an effort to get surprisingly efficient quarterback Shaun Hill on the move. Osi Umenyiora, the team leader with six sacks, will have to get around solid veteran left tackle Jeff Backus, but it can be done as Hill has been sacked eight times so far. The Giants will need to put up points in this one, an issue made more difficult by Lawrence Tynes' shaky plant (left) ankle. They signed former Bengal placekicker Shayne Graham Saturday, but he hasn't kicked since the Ravens cut him Sept. 4 in favor of Billy Cundiff. Better that Eli Manning cut out the bad decisions and find Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks consistently so those two can work their magic. Last year's disaster at safety, C.C. Brown, starts at strong safety, so it wouldn't be surprising if Manning and Tight end Kevin Boss go right to work trying to exploit Brown's myriad weaknesses. Boss could have a huge game this week. The Lions' defense is ranked 24th against the pass and 26th against the run, so Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs will have their opportunities, too. WHY THE GIANTS WILL LOSE: It may sound cliched, but this is a perfect trap game for the Giants. The Cowboys come up next week and the Lions are, eh! Not exactly a week with a lot of juice, especially against a team that has lost 23 straight on the road. On top of that, the Lions do take the ball away. They're tied for tops in the league with 14 takeaways, including seven picks and seven fumble recoveries. That's eight more than last year's edition had through the first five games. On paper, at least, turnovers is the only thing that will derail the Giants. The middle of the offensive line will have it's hands full with monster rookie DT Ndamukong Suh. Chances are, either Adam Koets or a comebacking Shaun O'Hara will need help from his guards to contain Suh, who leads all rookies with three sacks and 18 tackles. He even picked off a pass last week against St. Louis, tipping the ball at the line of scrimmage and returning his gather 20 yards to the Rams' 30. He could cause havoc against both the run and the pass. Louis Delmas anchors the secondary at free safety, and old Titan Kyle Vanden Bosch has a good pass rush from the outside. PREDICTION: This could be a trap game, but it won't be. The Giants feel too good about themselves right now to let a winnable one slip away. It won't be a rout, but the offense will do just enough to help out a defense that will shut down both the run and the pass. Giants 21-17.
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