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Giants vs. Bengals: 5 Storylines to follow in Week 12


Fresh off their bye week, the Giants will look to pick up their third consecutive win on Sunday when they travel to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium.

Prior to the bye, the Giants won two straight games, both against NFC East opponents. In Week 9, the Giants headed to the nation's capital and defeated the Washington Football Team, 23-20. The following week, Big Blue welcomed the Eagles to MetLife Stadium, where the Giants emerged with the victory, 27-17.

The Bengals are coming off a devastating 20-9 loss to Washington last week. Cincinnati also lost star rookie quarterback Joe Burrow for the remainder of the season with a serious knee injury.

Following the Eagles' loss to the Browns last week, every NFC East team enters Week 12 with three wins on the season.

Here are five storylines to follow heading into this Week 12 matchup.

Can DJ make it three straight games without a turnover?

It was an up and down first half of the season for Giants quarterback Daniel Jones. After throwing for 279 yards and two scores against Pittsburgh's elite defense in the season opener, Jones then went four consecutive games without a touchdown. Over that same span, he topped 222 passing yards just once while the offense failed to score more than 13 points in three of the four games.

The second-year quarterback recorded at least one turnover in 19 of his first 20 starts, including one in each of the first eight games of this season. However, Jones has now made it two straight outings without a turnover and has been playing well. He has completed 71 percent of his passes for 456 yards and a touchdown during that stretch, adding 15 rush attempts for 68 yards (4.5 avg.) and a rushing score.

"I just see constant improvement over a weekly basis," head coach Joe Judge said Wednesday. "Every day is very unique, it's very independent of the one before. The lessons you learn from the previous game you take forward and you don't want to repeat mistakes. I think Daniel has done a good job of really growing in this system. I think he has done a good job of growing as a player right now.

"I see a lot of growth with him. There's a lot of things that you guys don't see behind the scenes that we're not always going to share, but the way this guy is outward with his teammates. The reception he gets in team meetings, our locker room, things like that. You can really see the team growing around him. This guy is an integral part. He's a leader on this team. He's the quarterback, we all have confidence in him. We love putting him on the field on Sunday and letting him go out there and compete."

Heading into Sunday's matchup, the Bengals' defense has recorded 10 turnovers (25th in the NFL). The unit has forced a turnover in eight of their past nine games, including seven consecutive games prior to their Week 9 bye. Safety Jessie Bates III leads the way with three interceptions.

Keep Wayne Gallman rolling

Prior to Week 7, Wayne Gallman had never gone more than two straight games with double-digit carries in his entire career. But following Devonta Freeman's injury against the Eagles, Gallman has gone four consecutive games with 10+ carries and has made the most of his extended opportunity.

From Weeks 7-10, Gallman carried the ball a combined 54 times for 199 yards (3.7 avg.). More impressively, the fourth-year back scored a touchdown in each of those outings, including two scores in the team's Week 10 win. His five touchdowns over the last four games matches his touchdown total for the first 43 games of his career. Gallman has also registered eight receptions for 54 yards in that span.

"I think Wayne is a tough dude, and I think that's what is showing up in how he plays," Judge said following the Week 10 win over Philly. "He's running the ball tough, he's got a lot of mental toughness to him, we ask him to do a lot of things, and he's responding really well. This isn't the scheme he has played in throughout his entire career, but he's done a good job of learning and adapting to it and being a very productive player for us. He does a lot of things, he's improved a lot throughout the way.

"There are a lot of little things we have to emphasize along with all of our players, but I've seen him really improve fundamentally, in ball security, in open field running, in the goal line type runs, making sure he gets across the goal line, reaching with our pads and not reaching the ball out. So I'm very pleased with how Wayne is playing."

Although the Bengals' defense has shown flashes throughout the season, the unit has struggled against the run. Heading into Week 12, Cincinnati ranks 29th in the NFL with 136.2 rushing yards allowed per game. The defense is surrendering 5.0 yards per carry, the second-highest mark in the league. However, the unit has allowed just eight rushing scores (tied for the seventh-fewest).

Capitalize in the red zone

The Giants' offense scored just one touchdown from Weeks 2-4 and averaged only 11.75 points in the first four games of the year. Over the last six games, the team has scored at least 20 points in every contest.

The Giants enter the Week 12 matchup in Cincinnati having scored a touchdown on 20 of the team's 37 trips to the red zone. Their 54.1 red zone touchdown percentage ranks 30th in the league.

On the other side of the field, the Bengals have struggled mightily once the opposing team has gotten the ball inside the red zone. Cincinnati has surrendered a touchdown on 27 of 38 such, giving them a 71.1 percentage, the fourth-highest mark in the NFL. Over the last two weeks, the Bengals allowed Pittsburgh and Washington to score a touchdown on six of eight red zone trips.

View photos of the history between the New York Giants and Cincinnati Bengals.

Do not overlook the backup quarterback

Following Joe Burrow's injury last week, Cincinnati turned to Ryan Finley to finish the game. Finley completed just three of 10 passes for 30 yards and an interception in five drives against Washington, and was sacked four times on his 18 offensive snaps. Finley went 0-3 as Cincy's starter last year.

In addition to Finley, the Bengals have journeyman Brandon Allen, who is expected to start. Allen has spent the entire season on the Bengals' practice squad, but started three games for the Broncos last year, going 1-2. Allen has plenty of experience in Zac Taylor's offense as the two were on the Rams together in 2017-18.

"The thing you see with him is he's a confident player back there," Judge said of Allen. "He's a very accurate passer, he's knowledgeable within the system. He can make the guys around him better by distributing the ball. Then Finley, the thing that he really brings to the table is he's an aggressive young quarterback, he can make the throws, but he's athletic. He can break the pocket, he can extend it, he's not hesitant to pull that ball down and scramble and make plays with his legs.

"Look, right now we're preparing for Allen, who was obviously announced today through the press. But we're preparing for Allen as well as Finley because we have to expect to see at least a little bit of both throughout the game. Both are very capable quarterbacks, both present a lot of challenges. We have to really make sure we're working hard this week for both guys."

The Giants' pass defense has played pretty well throughout the season. The unit has given up 280 or more passing yards in only three of their 10 outings, and are averaging 257.7 passing yards allowed per game. The 15 passing touchdowns allowed this year is tied for the eighth-best mark in the league, while the unit's eight interceptions is tied for the 14th-most.

Containing Cincinnati's playmakers

Starting running back Joe Mixon has been sidelined with a foot injury, but Giovani Bernard has filled in admirably over the last few weeks. Bernard has registered at least three receptions in each of the last five games, totaling 19 catches for 142 yards and two touchdowns during that span. He has also added 162 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

The Bengals' offense also features a very talented group of wide receivers. Tyler Boyd is one of the NFL's premier slot receivers. Heading into Week 12, Boyd ranks fifth in the league with 69 receptions, totaling 710 yards and three touchdowns. His 79.3 catch percentage ranks higher than any of the four guys ahead of him on the receptions leaderboard. On the outside, Tee Higgins has shined during his rookie season, registering 43 receptions for 629 yards and four touchdowns. Meanwhile, veteran A.J. Green has caught 35 passes for 357 yards and a touchdown.

"I'd say this is a team right here, this is a very talented team," said Judge. "They've done a very good job of assembling talent. Obviously, the injury to Joe Burrow, he's a tremendous player. But I'd say this, between (Brandon) Allen and (Ryan) Finley, they have two very capable quarterbacks, and they have an elite receiving group that make their offense a threat every time they're on the field. They do a great job.

"Zac (Taylor) really schemes it up. He knows how to call against opponents, he makes great adjustments in the game. He does a really good job of getting the team on the field and extending drives. They have 29 drives I think over 10 plays this year, it's one of the tops in the league. That just shows that they can get out there and really sustain drives and put things together.

Through the first 10 games, Big Blue has allowed just nine receiving touchdowns to wide receivers, tied for the 10th-lowest mark in the league. The unit has done a good job overall against running backs on the ground, as the 870 rushing yards allowed to opposing backs ranks 11th. However, the Giants have allowed 524 receiving yards to running backs through Week 11, the second-highest mark in the NFL.


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