Giants might look familiar to Lions fans

James Hawkins
The Detroit News

Allen Park — On the surface, it’s hard not to notice the parallels between the Lions and the New York Giants.

Both teams got off to a rough start and lost three straight early, stumbling below .500 before kicking into another gear.

Detroit has won eight of nine and New York seven of eight, giving the two of the league’s hottest teams identical 9-4 records heading into Sunday’s NFC showdown at MetLife Stadium.

And while the two are peaking at the right time, they’ve also won in similar fashion, with a 6-1 record at home, a 3-3 mark on the road and an ability to scrap out eight wins by seven points or fewer.

“It’s just finding ways to come through in the fourth quarter and get wins. I think that’s something Detroit has done extremely well this year and we’ve done a good job of that also,” Giants quarterback Eli Manning said Wednesday on a conference call with reporters. “It’s just kind of getting into those tight games and making those plays in critical moments to win the game.

“It’s not always the prettiest and perfect, but it’s efficient. We’ve just got to be ready. If it gets to that situation, (the Lions) are pretty good at it.”

A closer look at the numbers shows the Lions and Giants are almost a carbon copy of one another.

Offensively, both teams have struggled to effectively run the ball. The Lions rank 29th in rushing (83.7 yards), are tied for 25th in yards per carry (3.8) and have topped 100 yards in a game just three times.

The Giants haven’t fared much better, ranking 31st in rushing (78.7 yards), tying for 30th in yards per carry (3.4) and eclipsing 100 yards in five games.

The two are also tied for a league-worst five rushing touchdowns and neither leading rusher — Detroit’s Theo Riddick and New York’s Rashad Jennings — has more than 500 yards on the ground.

As a result, the Lions and Giants lean on their passing attack to get the job done and have veteran quarterbacks who can distribute the ball to their playmakers on the perimeter.

Detroit’s Matthew Stafford averages 265.2 yards passing per game, 11 yards per completion and has thrown 22 touchdowns, while Manning averages 253.1 yards, 10.9 yards per completion and has tossed 23 touchdowns.

Giants coach Ben McAdoo noted the similarities don’t stop there, adding both teams have a mix of youth and experience and their defensive lines that are playing at a high level.

Defensively, Detroit ranks 10th in points allowed (20.6), 20th in passing (252.5 yards) and 11th in rushing (97.7), while New York is seventh in points allowed (18.8), 23rd in passing (256.6 yards) and eighth in rushing (92.7 yards).

“They don’t give up many big plays, they do a great job getting pressure on the quarterback, often just bringing four guys, so they can play different coverages and keep everything underneath them,” Manning said comparing Detroit’s defense to New York’s. “They do a great job rallying to the football, making tackles and are just very sound in what they’re doing. Guys are in the right spot and they rally them and make plays.”

But even more important than the striking numbers is the major postseason implications the statistically even matchup will have.

“It’s exciting to be in these situations,” Manning said. “We’ve still got a long journey left and trying to earn a playoff spot just like Detroit, so this is a big game for both teams and it should be a great atmosphere.” @jamesbhawkins