NFL Week 16 Handicapping: New York Giants at Detroit Lions

New York Giants at Detroit Lions
Ford Field – Detroit, Michigan

Sunday, December 22, 2013, 4:05 pm Eastern, TV: Fox, NFL Sunday Ticket
Opening Line: Detroit -9 1/2
Current Line: Detroit -10
Opening Total: 48 1/2
Current Total: 49
Opening Money Line: Lions -430 / Giants +340
Current Money Line: Lions -450 / Giants +360

Detroit faces a must win game against the New York Giants to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Detroit faces a must win game against the New York Giants to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Despite losing 4 of their last 5 games, the 7-7 Detroit Lions still have a shot at winning the NFC North title. However, the Lions don’t control their own destiny any more and are behind the 8-6 Chicago Bears and 7-6-1 Green Bay Packers. The Lions must beat the New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings in the last two weeks, and hope the Bears and Packers lose at least one more game. The Bears travel to the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday and the Packers host the Pittsburgh Steelers. Green Bay travels to Chicago next week.

First though, the Lions must take care of business against the 5-9 New York Giants Sunday in Detroit. New York is eliminated from playoff contention but they can play spoiler. Since 2001, the Giants lead the series 2-1 against the Lions. New York has won two straight games against Detroit including the last meeting in 2010 in New Jersey 28-20. The Giants haven’t played in Detroit since 2007.

New York is coached by Tom Coughlin. Coughlin could lose his job at the end of the season. The Giants opened the season 0-6, but have gone 5-3 since then. New York has lost 3 of their last 4 games. The Giants have home wins over the Minnesota Vikings 23-7, Oakland Raiders 24-20, and Green Bay Packers 27-13, along with road wins over the Philadelphia Eagles 15-7, and Washington Redskins 24-17. New York has road losses at the Dallas Cowboys 36-31, Carolina Panthers 38-0, Kansas City Chiefs 31-7, Chicago Bears 27-21, and at the San Diego Chargers 37-14  along with home losses to the Denver Broncos 41-23, Philadelphia Eagles 36-21, Cowboys 24-21 and last week against the Seattle Seahawks 23-0. The Giants are 5-9 ATS and the total is 7-7 this season. New York was a 9.5 point underdog against the Seahawks last week and the total was 43.5.

New York is being outscored 26-18 this season. The Giants are #20 in points allowed and #30 in scoring. New York is averaging 311.6 yards per game including 228.1 passing and 83.5 rushing yards. The Giants are #28 in total offense and in rushing. On defense, New York is allowing 336.5 yards per game including 229.1 passing and 107.4 rushing yards. The Giants are 13th or better in all three categories. New York is -17 in turnovers. The Giants are 65/191 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 83/207. New York has forced 29 sacks and allowed 37 this season. The Giants have 2 defensive/special teams touchdowns, but have allowed 10 this season. New York averages 53 penalty yards per game and opponents average 58 yards per game.

Quarterback Eli Manning has completed 58.6% of his passes for 3,410 yards with 16 touchdowns and 25 interceptions, along with 38 rushing yards. No quarterback has thrown 30 or interceptions in a season since Vinny Testaverde in 1988. Eli has been sacked 36 times this season. Back-up Curtis Painter has thrown an interception but has only taken 8 snaps.

Running back Andre Brown has 110 carries for 441 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 18 catches for 89 yards. Brandon Jacobs had 58 carries for 238 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 2 catches. He is out for the season with a knee injury. Peyton Hillis has 56 carries for 191 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 12 catches for 90 yards. He is out Sunday with a concussion. David Wilson has 44 carries for 146 yards and a touchdown, along with 2 catches. Running back Da’Rel Scott (hamstring) and fullback Henry Hynoski (shoulder) are both out for the season. Scott only had 73 rushing yards, but did have 11 catches for 102 yards and a touchdown.

Receiver Victor Cruz has 73 catches for 998 yards and 4 touchdowns. He is out for the season with a concussion. Hakeem Nicks has 50 catches for 794 yards. Rueben Randle has 37 catches for 571 yards and 6 touchdowns. Brandon Myers has 41 catches, 460 yards and 4 touchdowns. Jerrel Jernigan has 17 catches for 159 yards. He is probable with a knee injury. Tight end Adrien Robinson is questionable with a foot injury. Eight defensive players including six defensive backs, and three offensive linemen are questionable or out Sunday.

Detroit is coached by Jim Schwartz. Schwartz is also on the hot seat. The Lions have road losses at the Arizona Cardinals 25-21, Green Bay Packers 22-9, Pittsburgh Steelers 37-27 and at the Philadelphia Eagles 34-20, along with home losses to the Cincinnati Bengals 27-24, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27-24 and last week against the Baltimore Ravens 18-16. Detroit has home wins over the Minnesota Vikings 34-24, Bears 40-32, Cowboys 31-30, and against the Packers 40-10, along with road wins at the Washington Redskins 27-20, Cleveland Browns 31-17, and Bears 21-19. The Lions are 6-8 ATS and the total is 8-6 this season. Detroit was a 4.5 point favorite against Baltimore Monday night and the total was 49.

Detroit is outscoring teams 26-24 this season. The Lions are #9 in scoring and #16 in points allowed. Detroit is averaging 405.3 yards per game on offense including 292.4 passing and 112.9 rushing yards. The Lions are #3 in both total and passing offense and #18 in rushing. On defense, Detroit is allowing 351.6 yards per game including 252.9 passing and 98.6 rushing yards. The Lions are #4 in rush defense, #23 against the pass, and #16 in total defense. Detroit is -13 in turnovers. The Lions are 87/203 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 63/194. Detroit has forced 28 sacks and allowed 16 this season. The Lions have 2 defensive and 2 special teams touchdowns and have allowed 3 defensive touchdowns this season. Detroit is averaging 58 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 44.

Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford has completed 58% of his passes for 4,211 yards with 28 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, along with 36 carries for 70 yards and two touchdowns. He has been sacked 16 times this season. Running back Reggie Bush has 197 carries for 940 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 47 catches for 463 yards and 2 touchdowns. Joique Bell has 138 carries for 528 yards and seven touchdown runs, along with 39 catches for 459 yards.

Wide receiver Calvin Johnson is widely considered to be the best receiver in the NFL. “Megatron” has 81 catches for 1,449 yards with 12 touchdowns. Johnson is probable with a knee injury. Kris Durham has 36 catches for 472 yards and 2 touchdowns. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew has 41 catches for 416 yards and 2 touchdowns. Nate Burleson has 32 catches for 385 yards and a touchdown. He has played the last three games after missing two months with a broken arm suffered in a car accident. Tight end Joseph Fauria has 12 catches for 144 yards and 7 touchdowns. Seven defensive players are listed on the injury report including five defensive backs. Punter Sam Martin is questionable with a groin injury.

New York is 8-3-2 ATS after a double digit home loss, 5-2 against NFC teams, 8-18-1 after gaining less than 250 yards, 3-8 in road games, 2-6 after rushing for 90 yards or less, and on fieldturf, and 1-4 after scoring less than 15 points. The road team has covered the last 5 games in this series, and the underdog is 4-1 ATS in those games.

Detroit is 10-21 ATS against NFC teams, 2-5 against a team with losing records, 1-4 at home, on fieldturf, and overall, 1-5 against teams with losing road records, and 1-6 in December.

Both of these teams are killing themselves with turnovers. Detroit seemingly had the NFC North title in their grasp at the first of December, but some devastating losses have put them in jeopardy of missing the playoffs. Last Monday was a prime example. Despite not giving up a touchdown, the Lions lost to the Ravens 18-16 when Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker kicked his sixth field goal of the game from 61 yards out. Both the Giants and Lions are banged up in the secondary and I see a lot of points in this game in the warm confines of Ford Field. On paper, the Lions should kill the Giants, but I am hesitant to lay 10 points with the Lions against any team.


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