By Brad Carroll
The New York Giants have a lot more questions than answers heading into Week 1 of the NFL season Monday night against the Detroit Lions. Even with a perfect 5-0 preseason record, there is little to no confidence right now the Giants starting offense will be able to move the ball consistently. The preseason results were a disaster and if that is a sign of things to come, it's going to be a long season for Big Blue.
But the preseason means little, as the regular season is a completely different arena to play in. Here are three keys to victory for the Giants heading into Detroit to take on the Lions. Read our Giants game predictions here.
Don't Turn It Over
The Giants were a turnover machine on offense last year, with quarterback Eli Manning throwing 27 interceptions, an NFL high, and the team turning the ball over 40 times in all, also the most in the league. In last year's opener against Dallas, also on national television in primetime, the Giants turned the ball over six times. Obviously, the Giants can't continue that trend against the Lions. It's going to be difficult enough pulling the upset on the road, the Giants can't pile on by turning the ball over. So far in the preseason, the Giants have lost five fumbles in five games, but haven't thrown an interception. The starting offense has been beyond terrible in the preseason, unable to generate anything positive, so this game is an important barometer for where new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo's unit is at. Turning the ball over will automatically ruin any momentum McAdoo and Manning would like to develop in Week 1.
Ground and Pound
Giants coach Tom Coughlin wants to focus on the running game this season, at least early on, most likely to cut down on the turnovers. That means new running back Rashad Jennings must have a big day in Detroit, especially with Peyton Hillis and Andre Williams, the rookie from Boston College, as the only other options in the ground game. But it's not going to be easy against a solid Detroit front, led by Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and Ezekiel Ansah. Jennings rushed for 733 yards and six touchdowns in 15 games last season with the Raiders. If Jennings and the Giants can pick up first downs and move the ball downfield consistently on the ground, it will make everything easier for Manning and company to pop some big plays in the passing game. The onus will be on the Giants offensive line to hold up better than they did last season.
Limiting Megatron & Company
All of the focus this preseason has been on the offense, but the defense is going to have a major task trying to stop Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. The Giants certainly got better in the secondary in the offseason, adding Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Walter Thurmond and Zack Bowman through free agency. Prince Amukamara is also back at corner, so the Giants should be able to matchup well against the explosive Lions offense. These two teams played each other last year in December, with the Giants winning 23-20 in overtime. The Giants held Stafford to just 222 yards passing with no touchdowns and two interceptions. Johnson caught three passes for 43 yards. If the Giants follow that same script, they can pull the upset on Monday Night Football.