Lions Eye Playoffs
Detroit — The Detroit Lions threw away control of the NFC North race.
Detroit (7-7) dropped four of its last five games in large part because of 18 turnovers, including Matthew Stafford’s 10 interceptions and two fumbles.
The Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers took advantage, knocking Detroit down from first to third place and putting it on the brink of being eliminated from postseason contention. If the Lions lose to or tie the New York Giants today, Green Bay gets beat by Pittsburgh and the Bears win at Philadelphia later that night, Chicago will clinch the NFC North.
“Being one down with two to play, it’s not our ideal situation,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said.
The Giants (5-9) dashed their hopes of rallying for a spot in the playoffs by losing their last two games and three of four.
“This is no fun,” New York coach Tom Coughlin acknowledged. “Up until even last week, we still had a chance to be a .500 team. “
Here are three things to watch when the Lions host the Giants today:
Turnover -Prone QBs: New York’s Eli Manning has thrown an NFL-high 25 interceptions — equaling his career high — and leads the league with 27 turnovers. Stafford ranks third in the NFL with 21 giveaways and leads the league with 12 turnovers since Week 11. Manning seems to have legitimate excuses. The two-time Super Bowl winner has been sacked a career-high 36 times behind a banged-up line, and hasn’t had a reliable running game, but still has been criticized. “I’m not trying to prove anything to anyone or try to silence critics,” Manning insisted.
Stafford, meanwhile, has thrown behind or over targets a lot this season and his decision-making has been questionable.
Scalding Seat: Schwartz started the season on the hot seat and it might be scalding after another collapse. The Lions lost their last eight games last year after having a .500 record midway through his fourth season.
Coughlin has been through a lot in 18 seasons as an NFL head coach, winning 168 games in the regular season and postseason to tie Bud Grant for 15th on the all-time list. Coughlin began leading the Giants in 2004, went on to win two Super Bowls. The Giants, though, will not be in the playoffs for the fourth time in five years.
Run-Stuffing Defense: If the Giants have anything to be proud of, it is how well they have usually done against the run. Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch ran for fewer than 3 yards a carry and finished with just 47 yards last week. Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy easily leads the NFL in rushing, but two of the four times he has been held to fewer than 50 yards was against New York.