HEADLINE

Week 2 GameScout: Lions at Giants

Sports Xchange

September 14, 2017 at 2:34 am.

DETROIT LIONS (1-0) AT NEW YORK GIANTS (0-1)

KICKOFF: Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET, MetLife Stadium. TV: ESPN, Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters.

SERIES HISTORY: 44th regular-season meeting. Series tied, 21-21-1. The Giants beat the Lions 17-6 last season, the first of three straight losses the Lions suffered to end the season and cost them the NFC North title. The most famous meeting between these two teams happened in the 1935 championship game, when the Lions beat the Giants 26-7 for their first title.

KEYS TO THE GAME: Running the ball has been a chore for the Lions against much lesser teams, so expect the Lions to use the short passing game to loosen up one of the best defenses in the NFL. Theo Riddick could be especially active against the Giants’ linebackers, and Ameer Abdullah is a threat catching the ball as well.

On defense, the Lions must take advantage of a leaky Giants offensive line and get pressure on Eli Manning. Both Ziggy Ansah and Anthony Zettel are capable of big games, and Haloti Ngata should be disruptive against John Jerry. Points won’t be easy to come by, so taking care of the football and maximizing field position are necessities.

The Giants’ offense is seeking redemption, starting with a more balanced offensive attack that helps keep the group on the field and gives the already overworked defense more of a breather. For that to happen, the Giants need to get a much better showing from their beleaguered offensive line, which last week couldn’t execute on a consistent basis.

The Giants also hope to have star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (sprained ankle) back for this game. The fourth-year receiver is likely to be a game-time decision, needing to convince the team’s medical staff and himself that his healing ankle can hold up.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

–Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Lions CB Darius Slay. Slay left last year’s Giants game in the first half with a hamstring injury, and Beckham is no lock to play this week because of an ankle sprain. But, if both players make it to Monday, this should be a prime-time matchup between one of the best receivers in the game and a potential Pro Bowl cornerback. If the Lions can hold Beckham in check, they should have success against the Giants offense.

–Lions RG T.J. Lang vs. Giants DT Damon Harrison. Lang had an uneven Lions debut last week, drawing two penalties in a game in which the Lions struggled to run the ball. But they went out and got the veteran guard for matchups like this. Harrison is one of the best run-stuffing defensive tackles in the game, and his power is tough for any interior lineman to match.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Lions CB Quandre Diggs. Diggs finished last season on injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle, then had his job as the Lions’ nickel cornerback threatened this offseason when the team signed D.J. Hayden. In last week’s opener, Diggs shined with three pass breakups and allowed just one catch to Larry Fitzgerald in man coverage (on a bubble screen). With Hayden splitting time with Nevin Lawson as an outside cornerback, it’ll be up to Diggs this week to shut down talented Giants slot receiver Sterling Shepard.

FAST FACTS: Detroit QB Matthew Stafford passed for 292 yards, four TDs and one interception in Week 1. In the past two vs. the Giants, he has 619 passing yards (309.5 per game) and two TDs. … Detroit RB Theo Riddick caught six passes and scored last week. Since 2014, he ranks first among NFL RBs with 13 receiving TDs. … Detroit WR Golden Tate led the team with 10 receptions and 107 yards in Week 1. In his past two games vs. the Giants, he has 14 receptions for 215 yards (107.5 per game). He has 290 receptions since 2014, fourth among NFL receivers. … Giants QB Eli Manning made his 200th consecutive start last week, the third-longest streak by a QB in NFL history. In two home games vs. Detroit, he has 378 passing yards, four TDs and no INTs. He needs 23 completions to pass Hall of Famer John Elway (4,123) for the sixth-most completions in NFL history. … Giants WR Sterling Shepard caught a TD pass in the last meeting. He has a TD catch in four of the past five home games.

PREDICTION: Neither team has a running game, but at least the Lions can throw the ball consistently.

OUR PICK: Lions, 21-16.

–Chris Cluff