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Players to Watch: Offense starting to roll


The Giants are fresh off their first postseason victory since Super Bowl XLVI. As defensive coordinator Wink Martindale told the media Wednesday, "What a great time to be a Giant, to be a fan of the Giants."

Next up for Brian Daboll's squad is another meeting against the Philadelphia Eagles. After the Eagles emerged victorious in the first two meetings of the season, the Giants have an opportunity to extract some revenge against their division rival in Round 3 of the trilogy.

The Giants are looking for their first victory at Lincoln Financial Field since 2013.

Here are five players to watch in Saturday night's Divisional Round matchup:

QB Daniel Jones

Getting hot at the right time has been the key to several successful Giants playoff runs in the past, and right now, Daniel Jones is as hot as they come. The fourth-year quarterback has topped the 300-yard passing mark in two of his last three starts with a 5:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a 72.3 completion percentage during that span. He's finished with a passer rating of 92.8, 125.2 and 114.1 in those three starts, respectively, while rushing for 203 yards and two additional touchdowns.

Jones was excellent on the biggest stage last weekend. He excelled in a raucous U.S. Bank Stadium, throwing for 301 yards and two touchdowns while adding 78 yards on a career-high 17 rushes. Taking out his kneeldowns, Jones gained 81 yards on 13 carries (6.2 avg.). This came after averaging 8.3 yards per carry on 11 rushes against the Colts, a game in which he totaled 91 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

"Daniel did a nice job," offensive coordinator Mike Kafka said. "Obviously, had some really good production with his legs, good production with his arm. He made good decisions from the quarterback position and eliminating those turnovers, which is big in really any game. In the playoffs, those type of things get elevated. I thought he did a nice job, he directed the offense and he did all the things that we ask him to do from the quarterback position."

In his only game against the Eagles this season, Jones completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 169 yards and a touchdown with an additional 26 yards and a score on the ground. Davis Webb put up a similar stat line starting in place of Jones in the regular-season finale, finishing with 168 yards and a touchdown with 41 rushing yards and a touchdown. The Eagles finished the regular season with the league's No. 1 passing defense, surrendering just 179.8 passing yards per game.

View photos from practice as the Giants get ready for the Divisional Round matchup.

WR Isaiah Hodgins

Considering he's only been on the team for 2 ½ months, Isaiah Hodgins' impact on the offense has been pretty remarkable. The 24-year-old finished the regular season tied with Richie James for a team-high four receiving touchdowns after he found the end zone in five of his last six games, including last weekend's Wild Card win. Since making his Giants debut against the Texans in Week 10, Hodgins has done a great job of catching nearly every target thrown his way. In seven of his nine games with the team, the second-year receiver had no more than one target that was not caught.

"Not having much experience with him before that, he's been nothing but impressive coming in, studying the playbook, working his butt off - he's a great teammate," said Kafka. "He does all the right things. He's a pro. He's one of those guys that jumped into that room and was able to add some value."

Similar to Jones, Hodgins is carrying a ton of momentum into the Divisional Round. He has registered eight receptions in two of his last three games and has totaled 20 catches for 236 yards and three touchdowns during that stretch. In his only appearance against Philadelphia in Week 14, Hodgins recorded four receptions for 38 yards and caught Jones' only touchdown pass.

"I would definitely say it's a surreal moment," Hodgins told the media Wednesday about playing in the postseason. "I never look past it. I knew that I could do this, but just to be there sitting back looking at a couple months ago, I was getting cut from one team. And now, I'm playing in the second round of the playoffs. Sometimes I get that overwhelming feeling of just like, 'Man, I'm so blessed to be here and I'm so thankful.' I just try to remind myself of that every day."

The Eagles boast one of the league's top cornerback duos in the form of Darius Slay and James Bradberry. Slay earned his fifth Pro Bowl selection, posting three interceptions and 14 passes defensed. Not to be outdone, Bradberry was named second-team All-Pro for the first time in his career after he had three interceptions and a team-high 17 passes defensed. The two combined for three pass breakups in the Week 18 meeting between the two teams, although Slay was the defender on Kenny Golladay's 25-yard touchdown catch late in the fourth quarter.

LT Andrew Thomas

Andrew Thomas has been the anchor of the Giants' offensive line all season. The left tackle took a significant step in his development this year as he surrendered just 21 total pressures on 619 pass block snaps and committed only two total penalties across 16 games. Thomas has earned numerous accolades from the media for his performance this season, including his first selection as an AP All-Pro (Second-Team).

"I've always had a lot of confidence in Andrew," Jones told reporters this week. "I think he's been rock solid. Like anybody playing that position, early on there's some things you've got to learn but I thought he learned them quickly and there's no one playing at a higher level right now at that position in the league. Huge credit to him, he's an unbelievable player. If you saw how he works and how approaches everyday you wouldn't be surprised."

Thomas and the offensive line are about to face a challenging matchup. To put it bluntly, the Eagles' pass rush has been outstanding this season. Philadelphia's defense racked up 70 sacks in the regular season, falling just two sacks shy of the all-time record for sacks in a season (72, 1984 Chicago Bears). The unit has four different players who reached double-digit sacks, including Haason Reddick who tied Myles Garrett for the second-most in the league with 16. Javon Hargrave, Josh Sweat and Brandon Graham each recorded 11 sacks and Fletcher Cox seven.

"No, 1 opponent in our division," Thomas said about the Eagles. "They've done a great job. Obviously, their front is really good. I think they have something like 70 sacks or something like that. Definitely a tough opponent but we're getting prepared for them."

Thomas allowed just one single pressure against Minnesota last weekend. Although the Vikings' pass rush isn't quite as intimidating as Philadelphia's, their edge rushing duo of Danielle Hunter and Za'Darius Smith is still one of the best in the league. Right guard Mark Glowinski also surrendered just one total pressure on Sunday, while center Jon Feliciano did not allow any.

DL Dexter Lawrence

If we're talking about breakout players, the conversation must also revolve around Dexter Lawrence. The fourth-year defensive lineman shattered all of his previous career-highs this season with his 7.5 sacks, 28 quarterback hits, 68 total tackles, two forced fumbles and three passes defensed. Lawrence was named Second-Team All-Pro in addition to earning his first Pro Bowl selection as he became one of the centerpieces of the defense.

Lawrence did not register a sack of Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins on Sunday, but made his presence felt. Lawrence led the team with four quarterback hits and his seven total pressures tied with Leonard Williams for the most on the unit. Lawrence was constantly in the face of Cousins, pressuring the veteran quarterback and forcing him to get rid of the ball early.

The Giants picked up seven sacks on Jalen Hurts over their two regular-season meetings. Philadelphia finished tied for 20th in the NFL with 44 sacks allowed. It appears as if Eagles starting right tackle Lane Johnson will attempt to play in the Divisional Round matchup after suffering a groin injury a few weeks ago.

"They are some big dudes, physical. They've got a good leader in (center Jason) Kelce, he helped them learn a lot. They can latch on to you pretty good…" Lawrence stated about Philadelphia's offensive line. "I'm looking forward to the battle. The third time, just trying to come out with a different result this time."

S Xavier McKinney

Xavier McKinney has been back in the Giants' secondary for two games (he sat out the regular-season finale with the rest of the starters) and has made a big impact in both contests. In the playoff-clinching win over the Colts on New Year's Day, McKinney finished second on the team with seven total tackles (four solo) and a pass breakup. He followed that up with a team-leading eight total tackles (four solo) against the Vikings on Sunday, including the game-sealing tackle of tight end T.J. Hockenson, along with another pass breakup.

"It was gratifying for my team and defensively," the safety said about his game-winning tackle. "I knew we needed a stop, I knew that I was going to be one-on-one, so for me, I was just trying to make that stop. I was trying to have my best cover down, that down. But getting that stop got us off the field, and ultimately that's what won us the game. It was gratifying to me, it was gratifying to the team, and we got that one out the way, so we're onto the next one."

McKinney will need to bring his "A" game Saturday night against another elite tight end. Despite missing five games due to a shoulder injury, Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert finished the season with 55 receptions for 702 yards and three touchdowns. He missed the Week 14 matchup at MetLife Stadium, but Goedert caught six of seven targets for 46 yards in the rematch. After struggling to limit Hockenson last weekend (10 receptions for 129 yards), McKinney and the rest of the defense will need to keep a close eye on the 6-foot-5, 256-pound tight end.


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