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Giants-Lions prediction: Big Blue gets 10th victory

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Valentine’s View: It won’t be easy, but the Giants will win Sunday

NFL: Preseason-New York Giants at New York Jets William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants are 9-4. They, and their fans, can taste the team’s first playoff berth since 2011. With the right confluence of circumstances, the Giants could even clinch this week. Thing is, with a number of teams nipping at their heels in the playoff chase, the Giants still have work to do. They still need to win more games.

Can they win one on Sunday? They face the Detroit Lions, also 9-4 and winners of eight of their last nine games, at MetLife Stadium. This one won’t be easy.

The Giants are a 5-point favorite, a line that — to be honest — seems excessive.

Writing for SB Nation, Geoff Schwartz — formerly of both the Giants and Lions — called it “a game of monster importance.” He added that “I don’t know who wins the game on Sunday. I do know the game is evenly matched up and will be close.”

The saying goes that defense travels, and as Schwartz pointed out the Lions’ defense has been nearly as good as the Giants’ highly-acclaimed group. The Lions also have advantages in the turnover department and on special teams.

The Giants, though, do have that defense. They will have the advantage, or what should be an advantage, of playing outdoors in the rain against a team that plays all of its home games in a dome. That should be an advantage for the Giants if — and it’s a BIG if — they decided to take care of The Duke. The Giants are main 23rd in the league in takeaway/giveaway ratio at -5. They have given the ball away 24 times, and only three teams have been more generous.

Reality is, that much of whether or not the Giants are able to take care of the football will come down to the play of quarterback Eli Manning. The veteran quarterback has 13 interceptions and seven fumbles, four of which the Giants lost, this season. He had three turnovers last Sunday, and could easily have had several more.

“I have to play better. Got to find completions, got to protect the football better. That's what's got to happen in these type of games and you get into December, you got to protect the football. That's the most important thing right now,” Manning said early in the week. “I want to play better. We just got to understand, hey, I know I can play well, I know I can make the plays and get hot. Just have to stand in there and make the plays. I'm going to keep working and go in every week confident that I can go out there and have a great game.”

Neither Manning nor the Giants’ offense has had one of those in a long time. Rainy conditions might not be the time to expect Manning and the offense to come up with one, and a Detroit defense that has shown a propensity for creating turnovers at crucial times might make it tough, but the Giants could certainly use it.

Accuse me of drinking the Kool-Aid if you must, but sloppy conditions aside I think this is the week we finally see the Giants’ offense resemble what we always expected it to be. Maybe they won’t look like a juggernaut, but I think this might be the week they limit the self-inflicted wounds and actually finish a few drives.

At the least, I think the Giants play a clean enough game on offense and make life difficult enough for Stafford and Co. to win this week.

Final score: Giants 24, Lions 20