Giants at Lions
Kickoff: 1 Sunday, Ford Field, Detroit
Records: Giants 2-5; Lions 2-3-1
Line: Lions by 7
View from the other side
Pat Leonard covers the New York Giants for the New York Daily News. He breaks down the Giants for The Detroit News heading into Sunday's Giants-Lions game at Ford Field.
► Question: Daniel Jones picked up two wins to start his career, followed by three consecutive defeats. What's been the overall evaluation of his performance?
► Leonard: Jones throws a good deep ball and has shown resilience, the ability to bounce back from a miscue to make a big play. He’s also mobile and made plays with his legs to win his debut start Week 3 in Tampa. But his decision-making and turnovers lately have cost the Giants points, often holding onto the ball too long or forcing aggressive throws under pressure. He had four TDs and two turnovers in his debut win, and in the four games since he has four TDs and nine turnovers and a 1-3 mark. If the Lions’ pass rush doesn’t get to Jones, he’s fully capable of throwing accurately consistently and putting up a lot of points. If they get in his face, they could make it a long day for the rookie out of Duke.
► Question: Saquon Barkley made a surprisingly quick return from his ankle injury, earning 21 touches in last week's game against Arizona. Was there any noticeable rust or is Detroit's shaky run defense going to be in for a long day?
► Leonard: Barkley reinjured his high right ankle sprain mid-game against the Cardinals but taped it up and stayed in. It’s uncertain how he’ll look Sunday, even though he did practice fully Thursday and Friday after being limited on Wednesday. Barkley did rattle off two big runs against the Cards, though, including one that was called back due to a Will Hernandez hold. So he’s playing through the pain, and especially since Jones is struggling with turnover issues, there’s a good chance the Giants ride Barkley against a Detroit D that hasn’t stopped the run well.
► Question: For more than four seasons, Golden Tate was one of the most productive receivers in Lions history. His suspension obviously delayed his start in New York, but since re-joining the lineup, how has he bolstered the offense?
► Leonard: Tate has been a reliable target for Jones out of the slot. He caught a big TD pass against man coverage in New England. He short-armed a dangerous pass over the middle against the Cardinals that upset the home crowd, but then he rebounded to make several key catches, including on third downs and a 15-yard grab on 4th and 6 to keep a scoring drive alive. He’s also returning punts. He’ll be a key part of Sunday’s offensive attack.
The Lions have lost three straight and just traded starting safety Quandre Diggs. Lose another and the wheels might come off the bus. The Detroit News
► Question: Detroit's offense has been clicking the past few weeks, particularly the passing game. What's the biggest matchup issue the Giants face this Sunday?
► Leonard: The Giants’ secondary is vulnerable. The Lions should be able to spread them out and exploit them with three-receiver and four-receiver sets. Free safety Antoine Bethea, rookie corner DeAndre Baker and slot corner Grant Haley all have struggled. New York signed free agent linebacker Deone Bucannon to upgrade their ‘moneybacker’ spot alongside Alec Ogletree. Strong safety Jabrill Peppers had played some of that role, but Cardinals backup RB Chase Edmonds gashed them for three rushing TDs. If the Lions don’t turn the ball over, they should win this game.
► Question: The Giants win this game if...?
► Leonard: Barkley runs well, Jones limits turnovers, and the Giants’ defense prevents Matt Stafford and the Lions from hitting on explosive plays. Prediction: I think the Giants cover the 7-point spread, but the Lions win. Lions 27, Giants 21.
Players to watch
► Daniel Jones, QB: The rookie stormed into Eli Manning’s shoes for his first career regular-season start in Week 3 against the Bucs, rushing for two touchdowns and throwing for 336 yards and two touchdowns in the 32-31 win. Since the victory in Tampa Bay, the Giants have been outscored 69-93 and have won just one more game, in Week 4, against lowly Washington. Jones now has eight touchdowns on the season but has seven interceptions and has had trouble staying on his feet having been sacked 18 times. Eight of those came at home against Arizona last week, a six-point loss that saw him go 22-for-35 and 223 yards. Despite the dismal numbers, don’t look past the young gun if the Lions defense can’t contain him.
► Saquon Barkley, RB: The AP offensive rookie of the year had a 1,300-yard-plus debut in 2018 and looked to keep running up the numbers this season, rushing for 120 yards in Week 1 and 107 in Week 2, until a high-ankle sprain knocked him out just before halftime in the third game of the year. Barkley re-injured the ankle in his return last week against Arizona, but still rushed for 72 yards and a score. Barkley participated fully in Thursday’s and Friday's practices, according to reports, and is expected to play Sunday. Although the Lions are 28th against the run, if Barkley’s old Giants teammate (for seven games), “Snacks” Harrison plays, he will look to get a hold of the hard-to-handle back.
► Golden Tate, WR: Detroit’s old pal Tate returns to Ford Field for the first time since the Lions traded him to the Eagles in 2018. Now a Giant, the veteran wide receiver in his tenth year has just three games under his belt after serving a four-game suspension at the season’s start. He’s got 15 receptions for 195 yards and a touchdown since returning to play. He’ll look to increase his production against his old team on Sunday..