The Lions have lost three straight and just traded starting safety Quandre Diggs. Lose another and the wheels might come off the bus. Justin Rogers, The Detroit News
We’re going to save the snark for now and resist the urge to question if there really is any reason to watch this game.
The Lions need to get hot starting right now, breaking this three-game losing streak against one of the league’s worst teams to steer the season back in the right direction.
Today against the New York Giants and next week at Oakland are very winnable games that could put the Lions back over .500. Win both and — as strange as it sounds — Detroit could be back in business for late-season surge.
Maybe you’ve heard that one before.
Anyways, try to brush the cynicism aside, put on your Honolulu Blue Golden Tate jersey — or Quandre Diggs — and settle in for a football Sunday, if you must.
Here are five things to watch as the Giants visit the Lions (1 p.m., Fox/760):
Tate is back in town, as the fan favorite is now the No. 1 option for Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. The pair seems to be picking up some rhythm with Tate’s targets rising in each of their three games together, from six to nine to 11.
A few Lions will be playing their former team as well: Linebacker Devon Kennard, tight end Logan Thomas, and defensive linemen Damon Harrison and Romeo Okwara.
Will we see another game-breaker from Marvin Hall Jr.? The Lions wide receiver has four catches for 152 yards this season, with his 38.0-yard average leading the NFL.
Will Matthew Stafford connect deep with him for a fourth straight game, and if so, can Hall score his first Detroit touchdown?
Both teams are involved in rumors leading up to the trade deadline. Another weak rushing performance by Detroit could foretell a need for a more experienced back, such as Kenyan Drake or Melvin Gordon.
But if the Lions lose to the Giants, is the season worth even trying to save by blowing future draft capital?
The Giants could again be sellers, with cornerback Janoris Jenkins and left tackle Nate Solder among the players who could be moved. Dave Gettleman would like to see them have good games to up their market value.
What the Hock?
Lions rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson has pretty much disappeared since his stellar debut in Arizona.
Since catching six balls for 131 yards and a touchdown in his first game, the eighth overall pick has averaged 2.4 catches and 17.6 yards over the last five games.
According to Pro Football Reference, the Giants are one of the stingiest defenses for the position though, as opposing tight ends average 5.0 fantasy points, the fifth-best of any NFL unit.
According to The Action Network, the Lions opened as 7.5-point favorites, though the line has moved to 6.5 as of early Saturday evening.
With only 52% of the public betting on the Giants, that means the professional gamblers must be banging New York reasonably hard for a one-point shift.
The pros were right for the last two Lions games, line is a big gambling benchmark, as getting 7.5 points is a lot different than getting 6.5. According to the handicapping website Cleanup Hitter, 9.44% of regular-season games have ended with a 7-point margin since 2000, second only to 3-point edges (15.17%).
Matt Schoch is a freelance writer.