The New York Giants will host the Detroit Lions next week at MetLife Stadium in a battle of 9-4 teams with major playoff implications, but Detroit won’t be operating at full-strength. Quarterback Matthew Stafford, in the midst of perhaps his best season since he’s entered the NFL, injured his throwing hand in the first quarter of a win over the Chicago Bears in Week 14.
The Lions have been tight-lipped as to the exact-nature of the injury, but reports are saying Stafford dislocated and tore ligaments in his middle finger. Head coach Jim Caldwell is saying his quarterback will be fine.
"He feels that, obviously, he can get it done and, also, the doctors do, as well. Not going to talk to you about the nature of it, what happened, all the rumors and false reports and those kinds of things. But nevertheless, he’ll be able to get through it. ... We’ll work through it this week, and he should be ready to go."
Should doesn’t mean Stafford and the Lions’ offense won’t be limited (the Giants’ offense should be productive, and that’s been far from the case). Stafford’s arm-strength is one of his biggest assets and a dislocated finger will no doubt effect that, as it did against the Bears. He threw two interceptions for only the second time this season and was held to 223 yards passing, well below his season-average of 265 yards per game.
There’s never an ideal time for an injury, but the Lions misfortune is compounded by how well the Giants’ defense is playing. The unit carried them to a win over the Dallas Cowboys last week, holding the ‘Boys to 260 total yards and forcing three turnovers. Dallas didn’t score a point over the final 50 minutes of play.
The Giants helped their cause in the hotly-contested wild-card race with the win, their most important victory in recent memory. The Lions have won five-straight themselves and have overtaken the Seattle Seahawks as the number two seed in the NFC playoffs.
They can clinch the NFC North with a win at the Giants and a Packers loss. The Giants stay on top of the wild-card picture with a win, and drop to the sixth-seed with a loss and a Tampa Bay Buccaneers victory next Sunday.