We’re going to try a new feature where I try to dig a little deeper into the upcoming game by highlighting a compelling matchup that could impact the game. There are important matchups this week that will get plenty of publicity like defensive end Ezekiel Ansah vs. left tackle Ereck Flowers, but sometimes it’s the matchups we don’t think about that are the deciding factors between wins and losses.
Detroit Lions running backs vs. New York Giants Linebackers
Last year the Giants held Detroit to only 6 points, but the Lions offense wasn’t fully functional as they were deep into their running back rotation. The Lions were missing two key pieces to their offense with the absence of Ameer Abdullah and one of my favorite under-the-radar players in the league, Theo Riddick.
One of the big positives to come from the Giants-Cowboys game was the emergence of linebacker and league-leader in tackles (when was the last time we could say that about a Giants linebacker?), B.J. Goodson.
Goodson showed an ability to fight through the trash and make plays. The Lions will be a different challenge, and this game more than the Cowboys game, will be a great barometer for how good Goodson could be. Can Goodson be a three-down middle linebacker? Monday, we will get some clarity on Goodson’s coverage ability.
The Lions running backs are a different animal than the Cowboys. Abdullah and especially Riddick are open space players who take dump offs and keep the chains moving. Riddick last year had 53 catches and 5 touchdowns in only 10 games. Riddick challenges the edges and makes plays in the run game. Pro Football Focus calls Riddick the best receiving back in the league. Riddick is also a weapon of choice in the red zone for offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. Riddick adds a dimension to the Lions offense that was missing last year when the Giants defense stifled the Lions in New York.