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  • If Matthew Stafford and the Lions can get points onto the board against the Giants' defense, then it's Detroit with the best shot at getting the win.
By Jonathan Jones
September 18, 2017

The New York Giants have posted more than 20 points in their past seven games. The Detroit Lions are quarterbacked by fourth-quarter comeback king Matthew Stafford. If we’re fortunate enough to get a close, competitive primetime game for the first time since Kansas City and New England squared off in the first game of the season, go with the team that can score when it matters most.

It’s still unclear as to whether Odell Beckham Jr. will play tonight or not—it may not be decided until 90 minutes before kickoff. Here’s a hot take: it won’t matter. The Giants offense would have undoubtedly been helped by Beckham’s presence last week against the Cowboys when they totaled just three points, but it’s implausible that Beckham (ankle) would be anywhere near 100% tonight just less than four weeks removed from suffering a high ankle sprain.

On paper the New York defense can hang with anyone, and clearly it’s a better unit than Detroit’s offense—evident in the Giants’ 17–6 win in New York last December. But since then the Lions have improved their offensive line, have running back Ameer Abdullah back in the lineup and have rising star Kenny Golladay making plays at receiver.

Stafford had eight fourth-quarter comebacks last season and started out the 2017 season with one last week against the Cardinals. He went 7-of-8 for 122 yards and two touchdowns against Arizona in the fourth quarter while on his way to a perfect passer rating in the final frame. I’ll hitch my horse to that wagon in a close game.

Impact player: Evan Engram. The rookie tight end took forever to get going last week against the Cowboys, catching just two passes for 8 yards by the start of the fourth quarter. He has the size and speed to be a mismatch, and Eli Manning has to take better advantage of that this week than he did last week—especially if he doesn’t have Beckham.

Bold prediction: Ereck Flowers allows zero sacks tonight. The third-year left tackle has struggled since taking over the starting job late in his rookie season. Last year was a disaster for the Miami product, but it appeared that he turned the page last week against Dallas. Well, until the second half, anyway. I think Flowers should be able to put two quality halves together (with some help from running backs and tight ends) and protect Manning’s blind side.

Score prediction: Detroit 17–13

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