By Brad Carroll
With losses by the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles, plus a win by the Washington Redskins, during Sunday’s Week 2 action, suddenly Monday night for the New York Giants has become an early must-win game. With a victory at home against the Detroit Lions, all four teams in the NFC East would be tied for first place. After the Giants’ bad loss in Dallas to open the season, that would be a welcome outcome.
The Giants might have to do it without two of their best players, however, as Odell Beckham Jr. and Janoris Jenkins are both questionable. But it sounds like Jenkins will play and Beckham Jr. could make his season debut, which would be an automatic lift to a struggling offense.
The Giants are three-point favorites at home Monday, but if they don’t have a complete turnaround from last week, last place in the NFC East could be reality come Tuesday morning. Here is our three keys to a Giants’ victory on Monday Night Football.
Keep Stafford In Check
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford lit up the Arizona Cardinals defense to the tune of 292 passing yards and four touchdowns in Week 1. Golden Tate caught 10 passes for 107 yards, Kenny Golloday had 69 yards receiving and two touchdowns and Marvin Jones scored a touchdown. All three of those playmakers, plus Stafford, are going to pose a problem for a very good Giants secondary. The Giants have one of the best safeties and corners in the league, if Jenkins plays Sunday, but they are going to have to play like it on Monday night. If Stafford gets into a groove, like he did last week after throwing a pick-six to start the game, the Giants will be that much closer to starting the season 0-2. Turnovers are always key, and if the Giants get pressure on Stafford, an interception or two could follow. The Giants’ secondary is tremendous, but the Lions have the playmakers to give them problems. How they respond could be the difference between a win or a loss.
Wake Up On Offense
The Giants’ performance on offense last week against the Cowboys was pitiful, managing just a field goal and 233 total yards. Simply put, if the Giants have a repeat performance Monday night, they will have no chance to win the game. It starts with Eli Manning and the passing game, which would get a huge boost if Beckham Jr. can play, but has to step up even if he sits out again with injury. Brandon Marshall, who was invisible last week, needs to play better and Manning needs to get him the ball. The Giants also need to run the ball effectively, or the passing game will never work. The Giants had 35 rushing yards last week. If the offense has a repeat performance against Detroit panic will start to set in.
Flowers Needs Big Game
It’s no secret the Giants offensive line has holes and the biggest could be tackle Ereck Flowers, who has struggled since being a first round draft pick. Flowers is going to have his hands full with Lions defensive lineman Ziggy Ansah, who could turn into the player he was in 2015, when he had 14.5 sacks and forced four fumbles. Ansah had just two sacks last year. If Flowers can’t slow down Ansah, it could put Manning on the run, as he was last week, and the offense won’t have a chance to succeed. Flowers needs a big game for his confidence and this gives him a great opportunity to prove he belongs.