EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It’s the New York Giants hosting the Detroit Lions on Monday night in Week 2 at MetLife Stadium. Another tough game in a tough stretch for the Giants after their opening weekend flop in Dallas.
There is no time for slacking.
Week 2 Giants cheat sheet
This game is at home, the Giants are coming off an awful offensive performance, and it’s in prime time (ESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET). These should be advantages as Eli Manning and Co. try to avoid going 0-2, especially since their next two games are on the road in Philadelphia and Tampa Bay.
There are no gimmes early in this year's schedule. The Lions (1-0) are no pushover. The Eagles (1-1) and Bucs (1-0) are tough road games where the Giants are likely to be underdogs.
Making the playoffs off an 0-2 start is already the equivalent of chasing the inside straight. It’s a long shot. Only 12 percent of teams to start 0-2 since 1990 have reached the postseason.
Even though the Giants were the beneficiary of Eagles and Cowboys losses on Sunday (and the rest of the NFC East is all sitting at 1-1), they don’t want to be in that unenviable 0-2 hole, especially with two difficult road games and a Week 6 road date in Denver on the horizon.
This is the Giants’ reality. This is 2017. The schedule isn’t quite as friendly this year. The Giants also play the Seahawks, the Chiefs and at Oakland and Arizona. That's a lot of tough games outside the division.
This all makes the Giants’ Monday night game against the Lions that much more important.
“It’s a must-win game,” defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said. “Every game is a must-win game.”
The Giants will need to play a lot better -- especially offensively -- than they did in the opener. They’re well aware. They were critical of themselves after last week’s performance in a 19-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
“We don’t have time to handle things with kid gloves here,” coach Ben McAdoo said with a hint of urgency. “We’re going to be open and honest with our communication. We’re critical with ourselves as coaches and we expect the players to be critical of themselves. That’s the best way to improve. Especially from Week 1 to 2, but every week.”
The Giants won their opener last year and it took until Week 6 when they faced an important game with their backs against the wall that ultimately would determine the direction of their season. Star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. saved them with over 200 yards receiving and two touchdowns in the second half of a win over the Baltimore Ravens.
Maybe Beckham can save them again with a return to the lineup in Week 2 against the Lions. He's questionable with an ankle injury.
The ‘if’ injury game
If CB Janoris Jenkins (ankle/wrist) is out ... expect second-year player Michael Hunter to fill his role. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie would also see some snaps on the outside. Jenkins was a late addition to the injury report on Sunday, but he practiced most of the week and is likely to play.
If LB B.J. Goodson (shin) is out ... the Giants would likely insert undrafted rookie Calvin Munson at middle linebacker in the base package and use J.T. Thomas on passing downs. This could be troubling. Goodson is listed as questionable for the contest.
If RT Bobby Hart (ankle) doesn’t play ... guard Justin Pugh would likely shift to right tackle, with Brett Jones entering the starting lineup at guard. Hart, however, wasn’t even given an official designation on the final injury report and is expected to play and start.
Remember Greg Robinson?
The Giants do. The former No. 2 overall pick used to be the right tackle for the Rams. Pierre-Paul ran circles around Robinson last year in London. Pierre-Paul shared a sack and forced four flags against Robinson, who has reportedly fared reasonably well at left tackle with his new team. But he’ll be tested this time by Olivier Vernon. It should be another favorable matchup for the Giants. Vernon also plays with the requisite power and speed that can give Robinson trouble.
“I know you have to bring it to him,” Vernon said. “You have to be physical.”
The Matchup to Watch
Tate led the NFL with nine catches out of the slot in Week 1 against the Arizona Cardinals. That will put him opposite Rodgers-Cromartie much of Monday night. Rodgers-Cromartie held Dallas’ Cole Beasley to three catches for 36 yards in the opener.
Tate versus Rodgers-Cromartie, two players who rely on their quickness, should be a fun matchup to watch. It’s much different than last year when the Lions had Anquan Boldin working inside.
“Golden Tate’s good, too,” Rodgers-Cromartie said.
Probably even better.
The Giants have something going at MetLife Stadium. They have six consecutive home wins, their longest streak since 2008.
Stafford hasn’t exactly thrived in the spotlight. He is 3-11 in prime time starts.
How badly do the Giants need Beckham to play on Monday night? They’ve lost their past two games without their star receiver, by a combined score of 68-20, and weren’t competitive offensively in either contest.