Detroit Lions (9-4 SU, 8-5 ATS) vs. New York Giants (9-4 SU, 7-5-1 ATS)
Week 15 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, December 18, 2016 at 1PM EST
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: DET +4/NYG -4
Over/Under Total: 43
The Detroit Lions come to East Rutherford to face the New York Giants in critical week 15 NFC action. The Lions are on a real roll now, moving their record to 9-4 with a 20-17 win over the Bears on Sunday. It was their fifth win in a row and 8th in 9 games. And once again, it took late-game dramatics, an area where the Lions have become experts this season. Only once this season did they not trail in the 4th quarter and more often than not, they come up smelling like roses. The Lions are now in first place in the NFC North. The Giants scored a big win on Sunday Night Football, ending the Cowboys' 11-game winning streak and completing the season sweep on their division rivals. The win bumped the Giants up to 9-4 on the season. Both teams look for their tenth win this week.
On Sunday, Matthew Stafford set an NFL record by leading his team to an 8th game-winning drive in the 4th quarter/overtime. The Bears, playing better as of late, gave the Lions a real battle and it was up to Stafford and Company to get the job done and they did. With the clutch play on offense, an assist also goes to the defense, as they have delivered time and again with big plays to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat this season. Stafford didn't have his best day on Sunday, with two picks and a relatively-quiet day through the air. But his ability to deliver in a pinch has been phenomenal. While not the air-it-out gunslinger of the past, Stafford's efficient performance this season has been a key part of the Detroit revival. The problem is that he suffered a damaged middle finger in the win over the Bears. Ligaments were torn and he suffered a dislocation. Stafford plans to keep playing and we'll see the impact that has.
The Lions' offense has some weapons, mostly through the air. Marvin Jones has been good in his first season in Detroit, while Golden Tate has been heating up over the course of the season. Vet Anquan Boldin has caught seven TD passes, with Eric Ebron adding a nice target, as well. The expectations of the run-game are so low that they can actually benefit from some production, with Theo Reddick and Dwayne Washington sometimes delivering in that area. Reddick has seven touchdowns this season. While it might not be a prolific offense necessarily, it is a clutch one, as they've shown time and again this season. And that can make a so-so offense a lot better.
The defensive side of the ball also has some of the same traits shown on the other side. When things get critical late in games, this Lions' defensive bunch delivers. Whether it is with the pass-rush, key stops, or big late-game turnovers, they find a way to get it done. Perhaps one of the reasons they are put in so many crunch-time scenarios is that they are exploitable for the first three quarters of games. Be that as it may, it's what happens late that so often counts most in this league. Injuries have led to them being unable to sustain a consistent pass-rush, though the front has been good in stopping the run. Four players on this team have multiple interceptions. It has been since October 16 that a team has surpassed 20 points of scoring against the Lions.
The Lions have been a curious study going back to last season. They started the season 1-7 last season, before going on a 6-2 run to end the season. Some had high hopes for them this year and they started strong with a road win over Indy. But three straight losses threw cold water on that notion. But with 8 wins in their last 9 wins, the Lions are again hot and this time, they might not be so easily separated from their momentum. In somewhat quiet fashion, the Lions have won 15 of their last 21 games, with a lot of long runs of winning mixed in that stretch.
The Giants got the big win at home over Dallas in a 10-7 grind. They've been able to do that this season—win when the offense isn't firing. Based on a vastly-improved defense, the Giants changed their identity this season, with a more efficiently-run offense and more reliance and dependability on the other side of the ball. The "D" really took well to the many changes and money spent in the offseason. After snapping their 6-game win streak the previous week in a tepid 24-14 road loss to the Steelers, the Giants earned the big win against a red-hot Dallas team where their only setbacks on the season have come against this Giants' team.
The Giants didn't get untracked offensively against the Cowboys on Sunday night, scoring just ten points. But it is enough and when a team ends an opponent's 11-game win streak, so you don't want to be critical. In a game devoid of big plays, Eli Manning was able to hit Odell Beckham for a 61-yard touchdown. Both Rashad Jennings and Paul Perkins ran for 45 yards and that comprised a big part of the New York offensive output on Sunday night. Still, the Giants' offense has been rather subdued at times this season, averaging below 20 points and with no real run-game to speak of. We'll see if that ends up costing them.
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Key to the Giants' success this season is the rise of the defense. They gave up over 100 yards on the ground to Ezekiel Elliott on Sunday, but otherwise kept the dangerous Dallas offense in check with just one TD. For the last three quarters and change, they kept Dallas off the scoreboard. On the season, they have been stiff against the run, allowing just 3.6 yards per carry. Both Leon Hall and Janoris Jenkins secured interceptions on Sunday, with Prescott seeing his interception total double against the Giants. They have 19 turnovers on the season with 30 sacks. Manning, conversely, has been sacked only 18 times this season.
This should be a battle. There is some concern moving forward for Detroit with Stafford's finger issue. You'd almost like to watch a game to see how he performs. But if the Giants are depending on a Stafford digit to get them over the hump, they might be in trouble. And they won't be. Still, the Lions need him to be on-point through the air, with little else to fall back on offensively. In a game that figures to be close, it's hard to go against the late-game knack the Lions have shown this season. I'm taking the points.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Detroit Lions plus 4 points. Bet the Lions vs. Giants game for FREE by taking advantage of a massive 100% sign-up bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $500 at GTBets!