This one will be fairly brief, since nobody likes a braggart, but last week’s Watchtower was almost spookily accurate:
The Lions haven't lost in the Meadowlands since 1990 (H/T: Tom Leyden, via Twitter), which is an incredible thing—but the Lions’ road losing streak is an incredible thing, too, and unless the Giants simply fail to motivate themselves for this game, I don’t see it stopping. With sadness in my heart, I must admit that the mostly likely outcome of the game is a 20-24 Lions loss.
Before the game, I took a fair bit of heat from Giants fans for predicting so close of a game—but after the fact, I nearly nailed the final score! Unfortunately, my projection for how the Lions would get there wasn’t quite as prescient:
Given greater or equal talent, Perry Fewell's aggressive 4-3 front, zone coverage defenses will surrender a disproportionate amount of yards to Linehan's balanced offense, but also generate high numbers of sacks and turnovers, disproportionately disrupting scoring. Additionally, regardless of talent level, Scott Linehan's inside running game is disproportionately effective against Perry Fewell defenses.
Given the Lions’ systemic scoring disadvantage, I project the Lions to score 17-21 points, even while outpacing their season averages through the air (6.50-7.00 YpA) and on the ground (4.00-4.25 YpC). I have medium confidence in this projection.
The passing effectiveness estimate was quite close. With 313 yards on 49 attempts, Drew Stanton and Shaun Hill combined averaged 6.39 YpA. However, the ground game only averaged 3.05 YpC—and that’s counting Drew Stanton’s three scrambles for thirty yards! The Giants absolutely shut down the Lions’ running game. I remember being distinctly impressed with the job the O-line did with pass protection for Drew (just two sacks, and he was holding it forever on many plays)—but once again there was nowhere for Best and Smith to run.
I’m going to do a film thing on this, because I’m trying to pin down why Jahvid is sometimes “.44 Cal,” 2010 Offensive Rookie of the Year and why sometimes he’s just a rookie. If the running game had been able to get going at all, it would have bailed Drew out in a big way. They need this dimension of the offense to work; throwing it 50 times a game is never a recipe for success. With luck, the bye week will let Jahvid rest his turf toes, and the interior of the O-line can get back in synch.
Defensively, there wasn’t enough data to make any kind of prediction:
Given that Kevin Gilbride now runs a more conventional “New York Giants” offense that includes tight ends and multiple running backs, I do not have enough data to draw any firm conclusions about Gilbride’s offense against a Schwartz/Cunningham defense. There may, however, be a mild systemic advantage for the Giants’ ground game.
. . . and yeah, ouch. With two solid running backs in the stable, an absolutely decimated Lions linebacking corps, and a mild systemic advantage, the Giants gashed the Lions for 5.67 YpC. Interestingly, the Lions contained Eli Manning, allowing only 5.90 YpA—but he did complete 20 of his 30 passes for 2 TDs and no INTs, so while he wasn’t effective he was at least efficient.
Unfortunately, there’s not much to glean from this—for all the wild and wooly happenings, the end results was yawn-inducingly expected. Let’s get back to the surprise 44-6 blowouts, eh?