They’ll be plenty of time to recap all the things I got wrong in my weekly predictions this past weekend, but we have two more games to go before I start picking up the pieces.
What will happen:
If nothing else, week one taught us not to look heavily into preseason results. If you’re a Giants fan, this means hope, optimism, and a chance that Eli really isn’t over the hill as his play in the past year and a half otherwise indicates.
An abysmal Lions secondary will provide an opportunity to dispel the growing concern that Eli isn’t taking well to the new Ben McAdoo offense following a preseason in which the two-time Superbowl Champion failed to complete more than 48 percent of his passes and threw only one touchdown in five games. I don’t know that Eli exactly dazzles tonight, but considering the Lions don’t appear to be much better than what was the 23rd-worst secondary a year ago, it stands to reason that Eli puts up an OK line. I think 260 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs is a reasonable projection.
The Giants defense has some talent that flashed at times, ranging from a versatile secondary and a decent pass rush. They’ll be sorely tested by a Detroit offense that loves to spread the field and the ball frequently. Calvin Johnson will do what he does, posting numbers somewhere around six catches for 100 yards and a TD. Golden Tate, Reggie Bush and red zone threat tight ends in Joseph Fauria and rookie Eric Ebron present challenges in their own right. Look for Bush to distinguish himself as a runner and a receiver against New York’s average linebacking corps, totaling 70 yards on the ground and 40 receiving yards and a pair of scores. If Matt Stafford can stay out of trouble, expect him to post a quality day — 325 yards and three TD’s-in a winning effort.
What Won’t Happen:
Both teams are prone to sporadic play — Eli with his bouts of utter inefficiency; Stafford’s case of the occasional boneheaded turnover — and I feel that one of the teams will struggle mightily tonight. It won’t be the Lions. My guess is that Detroit comes out swinging and builds a two score lead over the G-men in the first half, forcing the Giants to abandon the running game, resulting in a tough day at the office for one Rashad Jennings, the new addition to the Giants’ backfield. Add in that it’s Detroit’s front four he’ll be running against and I’ll be surprised if he gets more than 60 yards against the Lions.
Despite the projected success of Reggie Bush, I think Joique Bell and all others who attempt to run will struggle against a Giants’ line that features Linval Joseph, one of the best run-stuffers in the league.
Lions 26, Giants 17
Chargers at Cardinals
What will happen:
An even battle out West, two of Ken Whisenhunt’s former teams do battle to prove who’s recovered faster from the Whiz’s departure. Just kidding Whiz — In reality, it’ll be who misses this man the most. The offensive guru revitalized Phillip Rivers’ and Antonio Gates’ careers a year ago. Now that he’s gone, the Chargers hope to continue to develop the scheme he put in place that the Bolts ran so well last year. The Cardinals on the other hand will look to overcome the QB deficiency they have in Carson Palmer by surrounding him with high-quality, young talent. In additional to the other-worldly Larry Fitzgerald, young up-and-comers Michael Floyd and John Brown appear to be the real deal and on the verge of a breakout as the second and third receivers respectively. In fact, I’ll say both end up scoring, but Brown dose more damage out of the slot, collecting 75 yards on five catches.
As for the Chargers, they will make sure to move the ball through the middle of the field, whether by run or pass, to take advantage of the gap left by suspended start linebacker Daryl Washington. Keenan Allen should be in for a big day, what with his ability to move around the field. I see him starting off the season off right with 4 catches for 85 yards and two TD’s. Rivers should also be successful but they oppose a Cardinals defense that features stars like Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu. I would not be surprised at all to see Phil Rivers struggle a bit due to this talented duo, but ultimately I think he has the deeper offense around him, and while he may struggle, I still think he finds a way to get the job done, tossing for two TD’s on 240 yards.
What Won’t Happen:
A ground game may be essential in that whoever establishes it in this one wins the game. With Andre Ellington out for a while, Jon Dwyer will step in to start. Dwyer is a bell cow with little speed and only marginal agility. Still he’s a load to bring down and will collect some yards. That said, I don’t think he breaks 80 in this game. The Chargers will look towards Ryan Matthews to tote the rock, but led by Calais Campbell, the Cardinals will look to limit the young back’s potential in accordance to their 2013 run defense which ranked as the best in the league. I don’t see Matthews cracking 65 yards in this one.
Chargers 23 Cardinals 20