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Monday Night Football: Detroit Lions vs. New York Giants Preview and Prediction

Eli Manning

Eli Manning

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Monday Night Football wraps up Week 2 of the NFL regular season by giving us the Giants hosting the Lions. This is an important game for both teams as the schedule toughens up greatly. Detroit has to host the Falcons just six days later followed by games at Minnesota, home against Carolina and at New Orleans. For New York, three of its next four are on the road starting at Philadelphia this coming Sunday.

New York had a pathetic opening performance in Dallas in which it managed just three points and 233 yards of total offense. The Giants' defense got tired and was lucky to hold the Cowboys to just 19 points in the loss. Eli Manning was constantly under siege and the ground game gave him no help. The offense also was without Odell Beckham Jr. while Brandon Marshall recorded just one catch.

Detroit, meanwhile, won a shootout with Arizona at home in a game that saw the Lions force four turnovers. Rookie wide receiver Kenny Golladay paid off all the preseason hype with two receiving touchdowns and Matthew Stafford showed the team it didn't waste money on him this offseason. Defensively, the team did enough to come way with the victory.

Detroit at New York

Kickoff: Monday, Sept. 18 at 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Giants -3

Three Things to Watch

1. Was Beckham the difference?

Although he’s listed as questionable, there’s a chance that Odell Beckham Jr. could play tonight. Even though he will be at less than 100 percent, he should provide a boost to an offense that was non-existent in Week 1. The wide receiver made a big stink this offseason telling everyone that he wanted to be the highest paid player in the league. If the Giants continue to perform like they did without him, he may have a case. Eli Manning completed 29 passes, but for only 220 yards. A lot of those were completed to running back Shane Vereen, who came out of the backfield as a safety valve. Manning was only sacked three times, but that's because he got rid of the ball before the rush got to him. I have a feeling OBJ's return, if it occurs, will help Brandon Marshall as well.

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2. Time of possession

It was referenced earlier, but the Giants’ defense clearly lost steam as the game went along last week. New York's D is very good and should be able to keep the Lions’ offense in check. Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison and the rest of the defensive line will be a good test for Detroit’s revamped offensive line. Matthew Stafford was kept upright against Arizona last week as he was sacked just once. The Lions struggled to get things going on the ground with Ameer Abdullah only averaging 2.0 yards per carry. A one-dimensional Lions offense is how they've been the past few years, and if Stafford is forced to throw a lot, the Giants’ pass rush could have an impact in this game.

3. Other questionable players

OBJ's status was touched on above, but several other players also have the questionable tag entering this game, and their status could help determine the outcome. Golden Tate is dealing with an injured finger, but he was a full practice participant on Friday and although he's on the injury report, there's no status listed so he should be good to go. If he’s limited at all, it would mean a bigger role for rookie Kenny Golladay, who caught two touchdown passes last week. Defensive end Ezekiel Ansah is listed with a knee injury that limited him on Friday, but with an extra day of rest he too is expected to be on the field tonight. Detroit could use Ansah’s pass-rushing ability against a suspect Giants offensive line. On defense, linebacker B.J. Goodson (leg) and cornerback Janoris Jenkins (ankle/hand) both are questionable but it would be a mild surprise if either did not play. Goodson had 18 tackles against Dallas so even if he’s limited that could impact other parts of the defense. Jenkins was actually downgraded to questionable on Sunday, which isn’t a good development, but the expectation is that he will at least give it a go tonight. New York’s secondary is one of its strengths so Jenkins’ availability is something that bears watching as the game progresses.

Final Analysis

The Vegas money is coming in on the Lions despite the fact that they are 6-10 straight up on the road the last three seasons. You can understand why after the first week's results. The problem is that you really can't overreact to those and have to expect that normalcy will return in Week 2. That's not to say that the Lions aren't really good and the Giants aren't as good as we thought, but things become a little clearer. If Odell Beckham Jr. plays, I think New York wins a low-scoring game. I still think that the Giants have massive issues with their ground game and protection schemes. It's just that their defense is capable of winning this one for them.

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Prediction: Giants 17, Lions 13

— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.