It's easy to say that the Detroit Lions are "collapsing" while the New York Giants are just "bad," but the biggest difference between the two teams is when they chose to start losing. The Giants didn't waste any time doing that, while the Lions held off losing until they were in position to win the NFC North for the first time in franchise history.
The truth is that neither team looks very good right now. Still, one of them does have a glimmer of playoff hopes remaining.
Only a glimmer.
Here is a closer look at a Week 16 matchup between the two most turnover-prone teams in the NFL:
Meet the Lions
After a 6-3 start with a pair of wins over the Chicago Bears and Aaron Rodgers on the shelf with a broken collarbone, it certainly looked like Detroit was in prime position to host a playoff game for the first time in over 20 years. Instead, the Lions did exactly what's kept them from hosting playoff games in the last two decades:
Be bad at football.
The Lions have lost four of their last five games and sit at 7-7 with two games left to go in the season. They are one game back of the Bears and will not only need to win their last two games, but see the Bears lose a game and also hope that the Green Bay Packers don't win their last two games. It seems hopeless, but one thing they know for certain is that they'll have to take care of business against the Giants on Sunday at home.
With Calvin Johnson on their side, they'll always have a chance.
Meet the Giants
"Giving his team a chance" isn't what Eli Manning is doing this year. His 25 interceptions are the most in the NFL and ties a career high for the two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback with two games to go. The Giants have fallen to 5-9 this season under Tom Coughlin, in no small part due to the fact that they have turned the ball over more times than anyone else in the league.
(Lions are 31st in turnovers, thanks to 17 interceptions and four fumbles by Matthew Stafford.)
Despite being just two years removed from a championship, the Giants have found themselves on hard times due to their turnover woes, having no running game and allowing three punt returns for touchdowns. Not to mention a defense that once seemed to feature "all of the pass rushers" has lost most of its luster with an injured Jason Pierre-Paul accumulating only two sacks in 11 games.
Coming off their first home shutout in over 15 years, can the Giants squeak out two more wins to keep the morale up headed into the offseason?
Local Takes: Detroit Lions
In a roundup of Lions-related notes, Sean Yuille from Pride of Detroit takes a moment to discuss why it wouldn't make sense to bench Stafford at this juncture:
I get that when a quarterback struggles, people will start calling for the backup to play. However, with only two games left, it doesn't make a ton of sense to put Shaun Hill in and just hope that things will go better. For better or for worse, this is Stafford's team, and the Lions will either sink or swim with him at the helm.
Local Takes: New York Giants
Big Blue View examines what the Giants need to do in the offseason to fix their team moving forward. This week, they took a look at possible cap casualties, including tight end Brandon Myers:
Brandon Myers was essentially on a one-year deal that he signed in 2013. If he proved to be a strong enough weapon, he'd be kept at essentially $4 million/year for three more years. While he has gradually improved his performance in 2013, nothing suggests to me that he is worth more than $4 million a year. The Giants can void Myers' contract after this season and only be responsible for his original signing bonus. We also have two players in the pipeline who are athletic monsters but are inexperienced in Adrien Robinson and Larry Donnell. They need to get that experience.
Follow the Fun
Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:
Detroit has pulled out much-needed wins against the Bears and Packers this season, but failed to come up big in games that it was supposed to win, such as losses to the Steelers, Buccaneers and Ravens at home on Monday night. There is no reason that the Lions should lose this game, but they've been erratic all season long.
Less erratic than the Giants?
After starting out 0-6, New York won five of the next six games to climb back into division contention, but the team quickly let that slip away by losing its last two games by a combined score of 60-14. It's hard to imagine the Giants winning this game, even if Detroit is slipping.
DET 27, NYG 20
The Lions opened as 8.5-point favorites and have been as much as 11-point favorites this week, according to OddsShark.com.
If Detroit wins and keeps its playoff hopes alive, it'll be fighting for the postseason in Minnesota against the Vikings next Sunday, Dec. 29, at 1 p.m. ET. Meanwhile, the Giants close out their season at home against the Washington Redskins at the same date and time.