With a trip to divisional-rival Dallas looming, the Giants can’t afford to look past the upstart Detroit Lions on Sunday at the New Meadowlands Stadium (1 p.m., FOX).
Detroit (1-4), fresh off last week’s 38-point victory against St. Louis, isn’t a fierce competitor yet, but they are a formidable opponent. Built similarly to the Giants with a strong defensive line and a turnover-plagued quarterback — journeyman backup Shaun Hill has thrown seven picks, mostly in the red zone — three of the Lions’ four losses were decided by only five points or fewer. Boasting the NFL’s best overall defense, the Giants (3-2) will need their league-leading pass defense to stifle Calvin Johnson (24 rec., 291 yds., 4 TD) and the Lions’ sixth-ranked passing attack.
Nick up the Lions
Second-year receiver Hakeem Nicks is the main reason Eli Manning and the Giants’ offense aren’t absolutely horrible. Despite Manning’s affinity for turning the ball over — he’s thrown eight picks and lost four fumbles — Nicks’ emergence in Big Blue’s offense is keeping Manning’s head above water as he struggles with his accuracy. Nicks leads the team with 33 catches for 408 yards and six scores.
Struggle at the line of scrimmage
Shaun O’Hara, the two-time Pro Bowl center, practiced this week and could return after missing the last three games, bolstering an offensive line that’s allowed Manning to be hit 26 times for nine sacks. Detroit’s defensive line, led by rookie tackle Ndamukong Suh and veteran end Kyle Vanden Bosch, has helped the team produce 14 sacks, seven picks, and seven fumble recoveries. Manning will need time to pick apart the Lions’ 24th-ranked secondary that relies on pressure up front.
Being better than Best
After suffocating Houston’s Arian Foster, the NFL’s leading rusher by nearly 80 yards, stopping quick and elusive rookie Jahvid Best shouldn’t be too difficult for the G-Men. However, the 5-foot-10 speedster commands attention as a receiver out of the backfield as well. Best’s 241 rushing yards and four rushing scores are balance with his 254 receiving yards.
Something special in Detroit
Second-year kick returner Stefan Logan isn’t afraid to roar out of the end zone. His 105-yard touchdown return last week sparked Detroit’s scoring barrage, leading to its first win of the season. With kicker Lawrence Tynes tied for 16th in the league with only three touchbacks, he’ll need better leg strength to keep Logan from getting solid returns.