One has to wonder about the job security of Lions general manager Martin Mayhew if Detroit misses the playoffs again this season. Just look at the talent on that team: Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Reggie Bush, Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley to name five. Mayhew had a bit of egg on his face this offseason because after he fired Coach Jim Schwartz he couldn't land his first choice in Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. He chose to take the Tennessee Titans job instead. Caldwell was about the fourth choice of Mayhew by some reports. It didn't seem like an inspired hiring as Caldwell spent last year as the offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens, and that offense took a huge step backward in 2013. Joe Flacco threw more interceptions than touchdowns for the first time in his career and completed fewer than 60 percent of his throws.
Caldwell did have 26-22 record in three seasons as the head coach with the Colts from 2009-11 after replacing Tony Dungy (the Lions asked Dungy if he wanted the job, but he said no and recommended Caldwell). The Colts went to the Super Bowl in Caldwell's first year. When he was the head coach at Wake Forest, Caldwell had just one winning season in seven years. It does seem like Mayhew could have done better because Detroit's opening was arguably the most attractive of them all with a franchise QB in Matthew Stafford in place. The Lions have made the playoffs just once this century.
This could well be the last season for Giants coach Tom Coughlin. At some point, players tune out a coach. This will be Coughlin's 11th season in New York and the Giants have missed the playoffs two straight years and four of the past five. The flukish Super Bowl run in 2011 likely has saved Coughlin. New York might have to start grooming a replacement for Eli Manning if he struggles again this season. He completed just 57.5 percent of his passes last year and led the NFL with a career-high 27 interceptions. His numbers have all regressed since that '11 Super Bowl season. To be fair, the Giants did have arguably the worst offensive line in the NFL last year and nothing of a running game.
Both the Giants and Lions have potential Offensive Rookie of the Year candidates. Detroit took North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron (+1000 at sportsbooks for OROY) at No. 10 overall and the Giants took LSU receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (+1000 also) at No. 12.
Entering Week 16 last year at Ford Field, the Lions controlled their own destiny to win the NFC North. That all went bye-bye following a 23-20 overtime loss to the Giants that eliminated Detroit from playoff contention. New York had absolutely nothing to play for, having already been eliminated itself. Josh Brown won it with a 45-yard field goal on the third drive of overtime. It was Detroit's ninth straight loss in December or January under Schwartz. He signed his own death warrant, likely, when he chose not to have Detroit try to get in position for a winning field goal at the end of regulation. The Lions had the ball at their own 25 with 23 seconds left and two timeouts but opted to run out the clock. Boos came raining down and Schwartz literally turned toward the fans and yelled something.
Late-season collapses are nothing new for Detroit. In 2012, the Lions lost eight straight games to end the season. Then last year, with the Packers and Bears both missing their starting quarterbacks for large chunks of the season and with the division there to be had, the Lions lost five of their last six games after holding fourth-quarter leads in every one of them.
NFL free picks: Detroit has covered just one of its past six at home, but this is a new regime and the Lions are frankly more talented across the board than New York. They cover. Also take the 'over' even though Detroit's past seven Monday night games have gone 'under.'