The Giants will look to pick up their third consecutive win and fourth of the season when they travel to Paul Brown Stadium to take on the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 12.
Joe Judge's squad is coming off a bye week. When we last saw the Giants on the field, Daniel Jones led the offense to 27 points while the defense kept Carson Wentz in check as the Giants defeated the Eagles, 27-17.
The Bengals were dealt a devastating blow last week as star rookie quarterback Joe Burrow was lost for the remainder of the season with a serious knee injury. Cincinnati was unable to overcome the loss of their young quarterback and wound up falling to Washington, 20-9.
Here are five players to watch in this Week 12 showdown in Cincinnati.
QB Daniel Jones
Daniel Jones put together his best overall performance of the season in the Giants' win over the Eagles prior to the bye. Jones completed a career-high 75 percent of his passes for 244 yards, his third-highest yardage total of the season. He added nine rushes for 64 yards (7.1 avg.) and his first rushing touchdown of the year, and earned his highest quarterback rating of the 2020 campaign (100.9).
After undergoing a rough stretch earlier in the season, Jones has rebounded nicely over the last few games. Over his last three outings, Jones is averaging 237.3 passing yards and one passing touchdown, along with 29.3 rushing yards, per game. More important, Jones has gone two consecutive outings without registering a turnover after having one in 20 of his first 21 career games.
"Daniel's a really smart person and he's a really smart football player," offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said Friday. "He's getting more and more experience here over the first couple years of his career. The more experience he gets as a player at this level and also in this offense, the more exposure and responsibility he'll have. But there's never been a minute with him that you say, 'boy, he can't handle it mentally' or 'he can't handle it physically.' It's just more about having experience.
"I think we've grown as an offense over the course of the year. I think individuals have grown, I think collectively we've grown. Guys are settling into what we're asking them to do. The more experience and the more reps we get at things, I think we're executing them at a higher level. That applies to Daniel, but really it applies to everybody across our offense."
The Bengals' defense has had trouble slowing down opposing quarterbacks this season. Heading into Week 12, Cincinnati ranks 22nd in the league with 254.7 passing yards allowed per game. The unit has also given up 22 passing touchdowns on the season, tied for the second-most in the NFL. While the Bengals have been opportunistic when it comes to turnovers, picking off 10 passes through the first 10 games of the season, they haven't been able to get much pressure on the quarterback. Cincinnati is tied for 28th in the league with 13 sacks.
RB Wayne Gallman
Wayne Gallman is in the midst of the best stretch of his four-year career. In the Week 10 win over the Eagles, Gallman recorded his first multi-touchdown rushing performance in the NFL, finishing with 53 yards and the two scores along with one reception for seven yards. Gallman has scored at least one touchdown in each of the last four games, with five scores over this span. The five touchdowns over the past four outings matches his touchdown total from the first 43 games of his career.
Gallman has played well when given an opportunity this season. In nine games, the running back has recorded 69 rush attempts for 275 yards (4.0 avg.) and five touchdowns while catching 13 passes for 75 yards. His rush attempts, yards and yards per carry are the highest since his rookie campaign.
"Wayne is essentially a young player," Garrett told reporters this week. "With the guys that he's played behind here, he hasn't played that much football at this level. He's played a lot, don't get me wrong, but he's playing more and more as a starter for us. He's exactly what I'm talking about in terms of a player who goes about it the right way. Wayne is a great person. He's a talented guy and he wants to be a great player, he wants to be great for our team.
"He works very hard at it and he learns from his experiences. You can see him gaining confidence as he goes, building on some of the positive things he's done. Then when he's had an adversity or a setback in some way, he tries to understand what happened and learn from it and grow, and he's done that. He's embracing the opportunity. We're lucky to have him."
Cincinnati has struggled against the run, allowing 136.2 yards per game, the NFL's third-highest mark, and 5.0 yards per carry, the highest in the NFL. The unit has done well in preventing opposing backs to find the end zone, though, as it has only surrendered eight rushing scores to RBs, tied for the seventh-fewest. The Bengals have also given up just 34 receptions to running backs in 2020, the second-lowest figure in the league. Last week, Washington RB Antonio Gibson rushed the ball 16 times for 94 yards (5.9 avg.) and a touchdown while J.D. McKissic added six carries for 43 yards.
TE Evan Engram
Evan Engram has rebounded nicely after a slow start to the season. The fourth-year tight end topped 35 yards just once in the first six games of the season (Week 2 vs. Chicago with six receptions for 65 yards) while failing to register a touchdown catch during that span. (He scored a rushing touchdown in the Week 5 loss to the Cowboys.)
Since Week 7, Engram has caught at least five passes and topped 45 receiving yards in three of four outings. Engram also recorded his first touchdown catch of the season over this stretch - he caught a 16-yard TD pass from Daniel Jones during the Week 9 win over Washington.
"Just kind of early on in the break, breaking down the first half of the year, or the first 10 games, seeing things that I've improved on, seeing the things I need to continue to improve on," Engram said on how he approached the bye week. "For me, it's the small things. It's blocking technique, it's little things I've seen that I've gotten better at. Then there are things, like ball security and even staying more consistent in the blocking game, that I need to continue to get better at going forward. A lot of small things that I'm always trying to work on. I always kind of evaluate myself before the bye week."
Engram has a great opportunity for another good performance in Week 12. The Bengals have been unable to contain opposing tight ends this season. Going into Sunday's matchup, Cincinnati has surrendered 589 receiving yards to tight ends, the fifth-highest mark in the league. The unit has also given up six touchdowns to the position, tied for the sixth-highest.
DL Leonard Williams
Leonard Williams has quietly been having a great 2020 campaign for the Giants' defense. Through the first 10 games of the season, eight of which he started, Williams has accumulated 34 total tackles (17 solo), seven tackles for loss, 16 quarterback hits and five sacks. His sack total matches the second-most he has ever recorded in a season, and trails his career-high by two sacks with six games to play.
Williams was having an impressively efficient stretch of games leading into last week's bye. The defensive lineman tallied a sack and two quarterback hits against both Tampa Bay and Washington. While he failed to register a sack or tackle for loss in the Week 10 win over Philadelphia, Williams got pressure on Carson Wentz throughout the entire game, finishing with a whopping five quarterback hits, matching his career-high.
The Bengals have had a hard time protecting the quarterback this season. Through the first 10 games, Cincinnati has surrendered 36 sacks, second in the league to only the Eagles (40). Following Joe Burrow's injury last week, Ryan Finley was taken down four times in his limited action. It was the third time in the last four games that the Bengals have allowed at least four sacks in a game, and the fifth time this season.
CB James Bradberry
Cornerback James Bradberry has racked up 14 passes defended, tied for the second-highest mark in the league and only one behind Cleveland's Denzel Ward, to go with his three interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery this season.
Bradberry's performance has earned him praise from Pro Football Focus throughout the year. Heading into this Week 12 matchup, Bradberry has earned a solid 75.0 coverage grade from the analytics site, helping him post an overall grade of 74.2. The Giants have allowed just 15 passing touchdowns on the season, tied for the eighthh-fewest in the league. A big part of that has been due to the effort by Bradberry in helping to shut down the opposing team's top wide receiver. The nine receiving touchdowns the Giants have allowed to opposing wideouts is tied for the ninth-fewest.
The Bengals sport one of the league's most talented wide receiver groups, led by slot receiver Tyler Boyd. Boyd ranks fifth in the NFL with his 69 receptions, totaling 710 yards and three touchdowns. Boyd might be the top option in the passing game, but Cincy's outside receivers are quite the handful, as well. Rookie Tee Higgins has exploded for 43 receptions for 629 yards and a team-high four touchdowns, while veteran A.J. Green has reeled in 35 catches for 357 yards and a touchdown.
Bonus: S Xavier McKinney
The Giants could be getting some reinforcements in the secondary this weekend, as rookie safety Xavier McKinney has a chance to make his NFL debut against the Bengals. The Giants took McKinney with the 36th overall pick in this year's draft, but a foot injury suffered at the end of training forced him to miss the first 10 games of the season. While the team would not commit to McKinney playing on Sunday, the coaching staff was very encouraged with how the rookie safety has looked in practice this week.
"I've been making good progression throughout the week," McKinney said on Friday. "Each day, I just try to focus on making sure that I'm doing my job and doing it correctly. As far as playing wise, I just leave that up to my coaches and obviously, the medical staff here. I think they've done a great job while I've been hurt of making sure that I've been doing well and making sure I've been staying up to par with my conditioning and other things, such as giving me little tasks every week and making sure I stay up on the playbook. But I'm definitely ready to go. I feel good. Like I said, I've been progressing each day. Everything has been good."
"The thing that we saw in training camp and what we saw on tape, good athlete, smart player, situationally aware," said assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Patrick Graham on Friday. "The thing is, he's been grinding this whole time. Unfortunately for him, it's been in the classroom. I feel bad for him. Now with the chance to possibly play, the thing he brings, he's a good football player out there. That's the simple way to put it, with some position flex. This guy can play in the deep part of the field. He can play down low. He can play all over the field. It's always good to have those pieces. On top of that, the thing is this, he's still young. We can't put too much on him. If he plays and whatever snaps he plays, he's going to earn those snaps. He's got a ways to go right now. I'm glad to have him back in the fold in terms of practicing and stuff."
View photos of the history between the New York Giants and Cincinnati Bengals ahead of the Week 12 matchup.