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Detroit Lions -6 vs. New York Giants
Our power rankings framework favors the Lions by 8.5-10 points versus the Giants at Ford Field Sunday. As such, we are comfortable laying the two field goals in support of the home favorite.
On paper, the biggest exploitable mismatch appears to be the Lions passing game, conducted by Matt Stafford, the fourth most valuable QB in the League by Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement (Stafford is 558 yards better than the typical replacement quarterback, by this score). While Detroit's offense overall ranks 12th by sister-statistic, Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA), the Lions' passing game specifically is fourth-best in the game, with Stafford at the helm.
On the other side of the ball, the Giants rank 27th defending the pass through the first seven weeks of action. New York's DVOA implies the G-men allowed 23% greater productivity through the air than average, after adjusting for situation and quality of opponent.
On the other hand, the return of Saquon Barkley to New York's active roster list last week supports the Giants seeding on the NFL's top-ten rushing offenses list. Further, Detroit is only about average against the run, so the Giants do boast an edge on the ground. But, New York's style has incorporated the run only sparingly season to date, calling a lower percentage of run plays than all but four of the NFL's 32 teams so far. One would expect that Barkley's absence depressed this figure somewhat, however, in the premier running back's return last week, the number was virtually unchanged versus average (Barkley's 18 week 7 carries fell right in-line with the usage rates for the most prolific backs of the last two weeks though).
Still, even if the Giants do endeavor to exploit Detroit's vulnerability to the run today, Ford Field's domed environment is quite conducive to the Lions' pass-first manner of play (about 73% of Detroit's total yardage owes to the passing game, while the League average is closer to 67%). At the end of the day, we estimate Detroit's (BIG) edge in the passing game is worth materially more than New York's (smaller) advantage on the ground. As a result, we are comfortable laying the 6.