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Giants vs. Lions: Week 11 storylines to follow

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The Giants are back at MetLife Stadium this Sunday for a Week 11 matchup against the Detroit Lions.

Coming off their bye last week, the Giants defeated the Houston Texans at home, 24-16. Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones both had strong outings, while the defense continued its dominance on third down and in the red zone.

The Lions come to town riding a two-game winning streak. After picking up a victory over the Green Bay Packers in Week 9, the Lions traveled to Chicago and defeated the Bears, 31-30.

Here are five storylines to follow in the Week 11 matchup.

1. 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, but more on that later.

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.

2. 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.

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.

One player everyone on the offense must keep an eye on Sunday is Aidan Hutchinson. The rookie defensive end has 5.5 sacks and 10 quarterback hits through the first nine games and just had a career-high eight solo tackles against the Bears last week.

"A good player; that's why he was selected high," Daboll said about the No. 2 pick. "He made a great play against Chicago, too, which led to an interception off of a screen pass to a tight end. He recognized it, and he kind of dropped back, made (Chicago quarterback Justin) Fields throw it over the top, (Detroit cornerback Jeff) Okudah picks it off (and) runs it back. Instinctive, can play a wide variety of spots. Can play inside some, does a good job on his field goal rush with his movement. A good football player."

3. Saquon once again league'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.

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.

"To be completely honest, it feels good," Barkley said after the Sunday's win. "Obviously, you're not too excited about it because you know it's a long season and you got to keep going week by week. Being healthy during it, it's not something that I'm shocked about. I believe in having positive thinking. I've been vocal about it when I was hurt that I feel like we're going to get back on track and I want to be part of the reason to help us get back on track. We're doing it right now, 7-2, great start, especially coming off a bye week and a loss. That was our mindset, come out and go 1-0. We were able to do that and now we got to build on that to next week."

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.).

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

4. 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."

5. Injury updates; Neal returns to practice

While Daboll told the media Wednesday that tight end Daniel Bellinger (eye) would not practice, he did share some positive news about another member of the rookie class. For the first time since suffering a knee injury in Week 7, right tackle Evan Neal participated in practice (limited participant).

Another player that is potentially nearing a return to the field is Shane Lemieux. The third-year guard was placed on injured reserve at the end of training camp after suffering a toe injury in the first game of the preseason. Lemieux was designated to return last Monday.

"He'll be practicing. We'll see how it goes this week, but I think he's improved from where he was last week. So, we'll take it one day at a time here. I'm hopeful."

Dane Belton stepped into a larger role last week following Xavier McKinney's injury. The rookie safety was limited in Wednesday's practice, but Daboll said "he'll be fine."

OLB Kayvon Thibodeaux did not practice on Wednesday due to an illness. Wide receivers Kenny Golladay (knee) and Wan'Dale Robinson (hamstring) were also limited, along with OLB Jihad Ward (thumb).

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