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10 things to watch in Giants vs. Lions

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KEEP THE MOMENTUM GOING

The Giants had two consecutive games on the road prior to the bye, as they won in Jacksonville before losing in Seattle. Following the time off, Brian Daboll's squad began the second half of the season with four games at MetLife Stadium in five weeks. After beating the Texans last week, they now welcome the Lions to East Rutherford.

The team's 7-2 record is their best through nine games since they were 8-1 in 2008. It also represents the first time they've won more than six games in a season since they were 11-5 in 2016. The Giants are also an impressive 4-1 in front of the home crowd this year, as the fan noise has seemingly made a big impact, especially when it comes to situational defense.

"I was really pleased and happy for how we played last week coming off the bye, defensively. You could tell that the fans (had) just come off a bye week as well," defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said. "I mean they were jacked in that stadium, and we need the same thing this weekend."

Sunday's game is a crucial one as it's the final contest before the Giants enter a pivotal stretch of their schedule. With four consecutive games against the NFC East upcoming, starting with a trip to Dallas on Thanksgiving Day, the Giants would like enter that four-game span on a two-game winning streak.

ALL-TIME SERIES

Sunday's game will be the 47th all-time meeting between the two franchises, with the Lions holding a slight 24-21-1 lead in the series. In their last matchup, Daniel Jones threw for 322 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions, but Detroit emerged with the 31-26 victory.

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INJURY REPORT

Giants

Out: TE Daniel Bellinger (eye)

Doubtful: T Evan Neal (knee)

Questionable: S Dane Belton (clavicle), OL Joshua Ezeudu (neck), WR Kenny Golladay (hamstring), DL Dexter Lawrence (back), WR Wan'Dale Robinson (hamstring)

Lions

Out: DL Charles Harris (groin), DL Josh Paschal (knee)

Questionable: S DeShon Elliott (concussion), C Frank Ragnow (foot), WR Josh Reynolds (back), LB Malcolm Rodriguez (elbow)

DJ KEEPS GETTING IT DONE

Daniel Jones put together an impressive performance in the first half of the season with a league-high five game-winning drives through the first eight weeks. In his first game in the second half of the season, Jones picked up right where he left off. In a week in which the focus on offense clearly revolved around pounding the ball on the ground, Jones had perhaps the most efficient game of his career. The fourth-year quarterback completed 13 of 17 passes (76.5 percent) for 197 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He earned a passer rating of 153.3, which not only is the highest of his career but is also the highest among all starting quarterbacks this season. It was also the sixth game in which Jones did not register a turnover.

"I think he's doing a really good job for us right now," offensive coordinator Mike Kafka said about the quarterback. "He's executing the offense. He's coming in early. He's watching a bunch of tape. He's putting in all the work, which was no surprise. He's been like that since the day I got here. I'm happy where he's at. Where we're right now, this week in practice getting ready for our third down and our red zone installs – we just had a great walkthrough, great communication with all those guys. He's doing a great job."

Detroit's defense ranks last in both points and yards allowed. The Lions rank 27th in passing yards and 26th in passing touchdowns allowed. In last week's win, Detroit limited Bears QB Justin Fields to 167 yards, two touchdowns and one interception with a completion percentage of 60 percent. However, Fields did a lot of damage with his legs, rushing for 147 yards and two touchdowns on just 13 carries.

"They're physical, I think that jumps off the tape when you watch them at all three levels," said Jones. "Upfront, linebackers, and secondary – they all play physically, and they've got some talent. They've got some good players who can make plays and affect the game. I don't think we're reading too much into any statistic or anything. We watch the tape and see that they're a good defense."

SAQUON ONCE AGAIN NFL'S LEADING RUSHER

Jones wasn't the only offensive captain to put together a strong performance against the Texans. Saquon Barkley carried the ball a whopping 35 times for 152 yards (4.3 avg.) and added one reception for eight yards. The 35 rushing attempts set a new career-high, topping his previous mark of 31 carries in the Week 4 win over Chicago. Those two games were the first two times Barkley topped 30 rushing attempts since joining the Giants in 2018.

"Obviously, you would think when you touch the ball that many times, you're going to be sore," the running back said this week about the large workload. "It all depends on the week, the team you play. Sometimes you can touch the ball 10 times and be just as sore if you touched the ball 35 times. Sometimes you can touch the ball 35 times and not be that sore. It's just the grind of the season and that's how it goes. For me, it's just continuing to be a pro, take care of my body. We've got great people within this facility, and I've got great people that I work with outside of the facility to get my body back in shape and get my body right for the next game. There's never a set day, every week is different."

Barkley's 152-yard outing was his second-highest rushing total of the season (he ran for 164 yards in the season opener against the Titans). Heading into Week 11, the fifth-year running back now leads the league with 931 rushing yards and 103.4 rushing yards per game this season. He also ranks second in total yards from scrimmage with 1,128, just 45 yards behind Dolphins WR Tyreek Hill for the most in the NFL (the Dolphins on bye this week). He has also handled a league-high 227 total touches, which has helped the Giants jump out to their 7-2 start.

The Lions come into this matchup ranking 31st in the NFL with 160.9 rushing yards allowed per game. Their 5.3 yards per rush and 15 rushing touchdowns also rank 30th. In last week's win over Chicago, the Lions defense gave up 258 yards on the ground. While Justin Fields accounted for 147 of those yards, David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert combined for 94 yards on 19 attempts (4.9 avg.).

'NEVER SEEN A COMBO' LIKE DEX & LEO

Despite dealing with injuries all across the unit, the Giants defense has performed well all season. They enter Week 11 as the No. 9 scoring defense, giving up an average of 19.2 points per game. For anyone that has followed the team this year, it's clear that the play of some of the big men up front has been a huge factor in that success.

A lot of praise has been thrown in the direction of Dexter Lawrence, and deservedly so. The 25-year-old is in the middle of a true breakout campaign. While most of the focus has been on the 2019 first-round pick, his linemate Leonard Williams has also been a force. As Wink Martindale said on Thursday, Williams is "getting into the groove." During the last three games, Williams has picked up 1.5 sacks and seven quarterback hits. The linemen have formed a formidable duo in the middle of the defense that has wreaked havoc on opposing offensive lines.

"I will say this, I've never seen a combo of tackles in my career like these two, both those guys," said the defensive coordinator. "Credit to (defensive line coach Andre) Dre (Patterson) and (assistant defensive line coach Bryan Cox) B-Cox and that entire room because it's a really mature room. They take playing in this system very seriously. Dex has played all over the place and people don't even know it. Just because he's listed as a nose, they think he's playing nose. There's sometimes he's played MIKE linebacker on third down. How he studies, how smart he is, what a great dude he is, and Leo's the same way."

"It was a point to where we looked at each other like, we're going to have to keep stepping up to keep playing together type of thing – because if you keep losing, they don't keep people around long," Lawrence said about his relationship with Williams. "Things like that. I want to win for him just to keep playing with him. Things like that is kind of what we talked about once before. Putting in the work to actually go do it is a different thing...

"Our goal as individuals is to be legendary, type of thing. We want to keep growing and being as good as we can in those things and doing the things that it takes to be legendary."

View photos from practice as the Giants prepare for their Week 11 matchup against the Detroit Lions.

DEFENSE COMES THROUGH IN THE CLUTCH

The Giants defense has often found success when the team has needed it most. Wink Martindale's unit has been great all season on both third down and in the red zone, and that trend continued last week against the Texans. The unit held Houston to just three third down conversions on 10 attempts, while they allowed only one of their four trips inside the red zone to result in a touchdown. The defense also forced a turnover on one of those red zone trips when Leonard Williams knocked the ball out of Texans RB Dameon Pierce's hands on the 10-yard line.

Following Sunday's performance, the Giants now rank second in the league in both third down (32.7 percent) and red zone (38.2) defense. This has played a large role in the unit becoming a top 10 scoring defense this season. While the Lions currently rank 19th in third down conversions, they have done a lot better once they get near the opponent's goal line. Detroit's offense has found the end zone on 69.7 percent of their trips inside the red zone, good for the fifth-best mark in the NFL.

"Execution. They execute well," Daboll said about the defense's success in the red zone. "It's not very complicated in terms of if you do your job, you give yourself a chance to make a play or execute a particular (play). Whether it's offense, defense – whatever it may be – those guys do a good job each week of honing in on the game plan. Coaches do a good job of installing the game plan, and at the end of the day, the players got to make the plays down there. It's been important. They've done a good job of holding them out (of the end zone)."

Jared Goff has done a solid job of leading the Lions offense this season. In nine games, Goff has thrown for 2,277 yards, 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He has four games with multiple touchdown passes, including two games with four. In last week's win over the Bears, Goff completed 73.1 percent of his passes for 236 yards and a touchdown. Detroit's offense also boasts the talented running back duo D'Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams.

"They create explosive plays. Goff plays at a high level; he's a very accurate passer downfield, intermediate, off the play action," Daboll said Wednesday. "And then their two runners have taken it to the distance a few times. They're both a little bit different but both very good. They've scored 30 points four times. In six of their losses, four of them have been four points or less. The other one against the Cowboys it was 10-6 with 3:20 left. Explosive team. Good football team. We're going to need a good week of practice."

DABOLL'S TIME WITH CAMPBELL

Sunday's game at MetLife Stadium will be far from the first meeting between the two head coaches. Earlier this week, Daboll shared a story with the media about an experience with Lions head coach Dan Campbell back when the two were on the 2011 Miami Dolphins coaching staff.

"When I was a coordinator for Tony Sparano – Tony said, 'Hey, I got this guy that I think would be good. Why don't we interview him? You take care of the interview.' So, I interviewed Dan, and it was a great interview," Daboll said. "He's slamming chairs on the ground and hitting walls and going through all these drills. You guys know him; he's a fantastic person, great family. It was an entertaining interview. (He) knew a lot. Obviously, he was very passionate, tough as nails you could tell. He was out of breath in half that interview with the stuff he was doing. Yeah, great guy."

Of course, Campbell got the job. Daboll went on to say that after getting the job, Campbell "was there the next day at 5:30 power cleaning and squatting. I wasn't there with him. I was watching him. He absolutely did. He's great. I loved working with him."

While the Lions have won just three of their first nine games, Daboll is impressed with what he's seen out of the head coach.

"He's a tough guy, very smart. That's the way his team plays," Daboll said.

HUTCHINSON 'HAS A MOTOR'

Detroit has talented players on the defensive side of the ball, and it starts with the No. 2 overall pick in this year's draft. Aidan Hutchinson has gotten his NFL career off on a strong note. Through nine games, Hutchinson has racked up a team-high 5.5 sacks and 10 quarterback hits. That is more than double any other player on the team. He also made an athletic play to intercept a pass from Aaron Rodgers in Detroit's Week 9 win over the Packers. Hutchinson has made most of his impact felt against the NFC East, as 4.5 of his sacks have come against the Commanders and Cowboys.

"He's a talented player," said Kafka. "I actually had an opportunity in the draft process to take a peak at him and look at him and his skillset on the edge. He does a good job inside as well. He's physical, he has a motor. He does a really good job in that defense and they use him appropriately…

"He's doing a great job. You can tell he's playing savvy, he's got some savviness to him on the perimeter and you see him make plays on the ball. Those couple in the red zone, making a play on the ball, getting his hands up, getting an interception. He does a good job, he really does. He's a smart football player and no surprise why he was a high draft pick."

ADOREE' VS. AMON-RA

In his first season as the team's No. 1 cornerback, Adoree' Jackson has played admirably. Jackson has been pretty consistent in the secondary, playing at least 99 percent of the team's defensive snaps in seven of nine games. He has gone up against the opposing team's top wide receiver each week and done a good job of limiting them. Over the last four games, Jackson has registered six pass breakups, including two in last week's matchup against Houston. Jackson was targeted on 10 occasions in that game and gave up just four receptions for 33 yards. He earned a passer rating against of just 49.2.

The veteran corner will have a tough matchup this weekend as he faces off against Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown. St. Brown began his season on fire, catching 17 passes for 180 yards and three touchdowns in the first two games. While an ankle injury derailed his season a bit following the torrid start, he seemingly got back on track last week. The Lions' No. 1 receiver reeled in 10 passes for 119 yards on 11 targets against the Bears, marking his first double-digit reception game of the season. He has 49 receptions for 518 yards and three touchdowns on the year.

"Very instinctive," Daboll said about the Lions' top receiver. "He has a good knack for getting open, he's got quickness, really good hands, he's smart. I went and watched him when he went to Mater Dei out in California. Productive player, productive in college, just a smart, instinctive receiver. He's got a good knack. I think the quarterback has a lot of confidence in him. In any situation, too. 'Got to have its', third down, red zone, he's done a good job."

View rare photos from the all-time series between the New York Giants and Detroit Lions.

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