Detroit, MI (CBS New York) — The New York Giants aren’t good… yet. But they do show promise here and there, as they weave through another losing season. At 2-5, even in the sad NFC East, this team isn’t going anywhere near the playoffs. But with some winnable games in the second half of the season, this improving squad could find their way to .500.
It would have to start this week against the Detroit Lions, who have lost their last three. The Lions, at 2-3-1, don’t seem to be a team in free-fall, however. Those three losses, all competitive, came at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings, all playoff contenders. Even last week’s defeat to the Vikings was close going into the fourth quarter.
Matthew Stafford has been his usual productive self over that stretch, averaging over 300 yards passing and two touchdowns. The running game with Kerryon Johnson has been iffy though, and will continue to be, given his knee injury. Replacement Ty Johnson won’t be an improvement.
As if to make matter worse, the team just jettisoned starting safety and team captain Quandre Diggs. According to Larry Hartstein, senior NFL analyst at SportsLine, “a lot of guys in the locker room were really upset and vocal about it. The Lions are actually not throwing in the towel. They actually have younger players that they believe are better than Diggs. Diggs has had a really bad year, he has missed six tackles, he hasn’t made any big plays. The Lions are really thinking about this year. It’s not a move to throw in the towel and go for the future. But how the players interpret it is something we’re going to have to look for this Sunday.”
Any misconception would play in the Giants favor, who will look for better production out of the offense. “The first thing you look at is the running game for the Giants, ” notes Hartstein. “Saquon Barkley returned last week, wasn’t tremendous.” His production against the Arizona Cardinals — 18 carries for 72 yards and a touchdown — could’ve been better. But coming off an injury, it could’ve been a lot worse too.
Hartstein also points out that “he’ll have great opportunities against a Lions defense that is giving up 4.8 yards per carry and just got gashed by Dalvin Cook for 5.7 yards per carry. Saquon is averaging 5.6 yards per carry this season, he’ll have a big game that should take the pressure off the rookie quarterback.”
Daniel Jones would probably appreciate more time in the pocket and fewer sacks. That starts with a healthy running game, which Saquon should be able to deliver this week. And it continues with better blocking on obvious passing downs, which the offensive line seems intent on delivering as well. The Cardinals sacked Jones eight times last week, which is too many.
From there, it’s up to the rookie. Jones doesn’t need to be great. But against a bad defense — the Lions defense ranks among the NFL’s worst in yards and points per game — he just needs to be better. This matchup, even with the Giants as a 6.5-point underdog, should allow him to be.