The New York Giants really need a win in Week Two. Can they can get it against the Detroit Lions? Neil Harvey looks ahead to Monday Night Football...
"With home advantage, needing the win more, OBJ likely back, and the better defense, it's New York who have the edge"
Detroit Lions @ New York Giants
Start Time: September 19th, 01:30 BST
TV Coverage: Live on Sky Sports
Monday Night Football this week doesn't look the most exciting of contests on paper, as a mediocre Lions team visits the equally mediocre Giants. But while the quality of the football may not prove too thrilling, I suspect we could still be in for an exciting finish.
Golladay stands out
Matt Stafford might be the best paid quarterback in the NFL, but he's certainly not the best quarterback. And the receivers around him leave plenty to be desired. Marvin Jones and Golden Tate were offloaded by Cincinnati and Seattle respectively, and you can understand why, as both scored just four touchdowns apiece for Detroit last season. They certainly found the right fit for themselves when they joined the ok-but-unspectacular Lions.
Kenny Golladay could be a different creature altogether though. It's hard to judge the six foot receiver out of Northern Illinois on just one game, but what a game it was. The rookie hauled in two TDs against Arizona. But more importantly for me, he just had that 'something' about him. A swagger, a self-confidence, a touch of Calvin Johnson, that makes me think the Lions may have found one here.
No ground and pound
Detroit's running game, like New York's, is a shambles. Although both teams have become adept at cultivating pass-catching backs. Theo Riddick burst for a touchdown in this manner last week. While Shane Vereen, who's almost his mirror image in a Giants uniform, bagged over 50 yards receiving in his team's loss to Dallas. In terms of old fashioned, straight-line rushing though, I'm not expecting much from Detroit's Ameer Abdullah or New York's Paul Perkins.
OBJ to save the day?
New York's big problem is the ankle injury to Odell Beckham Junior. OBJ is the team's talisman, and the best player. Without him last week, Big Blue mustered just 233 yards of offense and only scored three points. He's rumoured to play on Monday. But just how fit will he be? I have to think that the Giants wouldn't put their star man on the field and risk losing him for the season if the wasn't good to go.
And the great thing about Beckham is that his mere presence will draw special attention, maybe even double coverage, freeing up the likes of Sterling Shepard in the slot, and rookie tight end Evan Engram to do some damage. The reality is OBJ could do great harm without even catching the ball.
Turnovers The Key
For me though, this game will be decided on defense. Last season the Giants outperformed the Lions 35 to 26 in terms of sacks, and nabbed to 17 interceptions to Detroit's 10. New York invested big money in their defense last year and it's in games like this that it can make the difference. Both Eli Manning and Matthew Stafford have a propensity to produce turnovers, especially when they are trying to force the play. I suspect this could be a frustrating game for both QBs and that we could see both produce turnovers. This game looks tight and I feel kickers and special teams will also play a decisive role.
This could go either way. And many pundits are being swayed by the three point head start being given to Detroit. But I think that with home advantage, needing the win more, OBJ likely back, and the better defense, it's New York who have the edge.
The handicap looks about right and I could see a late field goal wrapping this up. Indeed both kickers could see plenty of opportunities through the night, with touchdowns likely to be at a premium.
Linebacker Landon Collins is a tackling machine for the Giants and their looks to be a standout bet available on him to get over seven tackles and assists in a game where he could be a key player.
3pts New York Giants to win by 1-13 points @ [5/4] (Sportsbook)
3pts Kenny Golladay receiving yards Over 29.5 @ [5/6] (Sportsbook)
3pts Landon Collins tackles and assists Over 7.5 @ [5/6] (Sportsbook)
1pt Half Time/Full Time - Detroit/ New York @ [8/0]