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Players to Watch: Slayton's chemistry with DJ


The Giants will hope to make it back-to-back wins when they welcome the Detroit Lions to MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

The team was able to pick up the victory in their first game after the bye when they defeated the Houston Texans, 24-16, at MetLife. The Lions are aiming for their third consecutive win after defeating NFC North opponents in Weeks 9-10 (Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears).

Sunday's game will be the first meeting between the two franchises since 2019, when Daniel Jones threw for 322 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions but the Lions emerged with the 31-26 victory.

Here are five players to keep an eye on in the Week 11 matchup.

RB Saquon Barkley

Barkley carried the ball a whopping 35 times for 152 yards against the Texans' last-ranked rushing defense. The 35 rush attempts were not only the most of his NFL career, but it was also the highest number of carries for any player in the league this season. The fifth-year running back regained his spot atop the NFL rushing leaderboard with his 931 yards on the season. Barkley ranks second in total yards from scrimmage with 1,128, while his 227 total touches is the most in the league.

Barkley is likely to see a good amount of volume again this weekend, as the Lions' defense has found about as much success stopping the run this season as Houston. Detroit enters this matchup ranking 31st in the NFL with 160.9 rushing yards allowed per game, while their 15 rushing scores and 5.3 yards per carry allowed rank 30th. The last seven teams to face the Lions have rushed for at 105+ yards, while the Bears totaled 258 yards on the ground last week. Running backs David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert accounted for 94 of those yards on 19 attempts (4.9 avg.).

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

WR Darius Slayton

The Giants' passing game has not been blowing up the box score in recent weeks. However, Darius Slayton has quietly put together a strong stretch of games. In the Week 5 win over the Packers in London, Slayton caught a season-high six passes for 79 yards. He has had at least 58 receiving yards in three of four games since. Over the last three games, the fourth-year receiver is averaging 73 receiving yards per game with two touchdowns.

Slayton finished with three receptions and a season-high 95 yards in last week's win over the Texans, including an impressive 54-yard catch-and-run that resulted in a touchdown. The young receiver came to the Giants in the same draft class as QB Daniel Jones, and the two have clearly developed a nice chemistry over the years.

"Those guys work a lot together during the week and then in the off-season," coach Brian Daboll said Monday about the connection between Slayton and Jones. "They throw a lot after practice. Again, reading a receiver's body language and having trust in them that they're going to be where they're supposed to be and make a play on the ball when you throw it to them, I think, is really important in quarterback play and receiver – call it skill play. That's really the passing game.

"You can get some zone coverages, which we got yesterday. And we got some man coverages like you do every week. So, one is having the confidence that your player, as a quarterback, is going to beat the player that he's going against, or in zone that they're going to be reading it the right way, getting the head turn the right way, knowing when to let it go. So, the more you can do that with the skill players as a quarterback, I think the more trust develops. And that's really what the passing game is. That's where it all starts."

The Lions come into this game with the league's lowest-ranked defense in both points and yards. The numbers are a little better when looking solely at the passing defense, as the unit ranks 27th in passing yards and 26th in passing touchdowns allowed. In his only career game against the Lions, Slayton caught two passes for 50 yards and two touchdowns.

DL Dexter Lawrence

Dexter Lawrence seems to make this column every week, and for good reason. The 25-year-old picked up a sack and five quarterback hits last week in yet another dominant showing. This brought his season totals up to five sacks and 16 quarterback hits, both of which are the most he's had in a season (and there are eight games remaining).

In his first three seasons, Lawrence lined up as the 0-technique nose tackle (directly over the opposing team's center) a total of 113 times. He has lined up in that spot 150 times already this season and has found a ton of success. Lawrence has totaled 17 pressures in the 0-technique alignment, which is more than triple any other player (Ravens DL Calais Campbell is second with five). But he's also lined up in various other spots across the defense, which his coordinator pointed out on Thursday.

"Dex has played all over the place and people don't even know it," Wink Martindale said about Lawrence. "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."

The Lions have done a good job of protecting Jared Goff this season. Through nine games, Detroit has surrendered just 15 sacks, the fourth-fewest in the league. Goff was sacked twice in last week's game against Chicago.

DL Leonard Williams

Lawrence's strong performance has garnered all of the attention, but his fellow defensive lineman has also put together a sold stretch of games in recent weeks. Leonard Williams missed the first games of his career due to injury earlier this season. He returned in Week 6 and has played 92 percent of the team's defensive snaps in three of four games since, which shows the knee injury is clearly in the rearview mirror.

Not only has Williams been on the field a substantial amount, but he's also performed well. The 28-year-old has accumulated seven quarterback hits across the last three games and 17 total tackles over the last two. In the Week 8 loss to the Seahawks, Williams picked up an impressive five quarterback hits along with a sack. He also had a half-sack, three run stops and a forced fumble in last week's win.

"Leo has played well the last three games. He's coming off the injury and getting into the groove. I will say this, I've never seen a combo of tackles in my career like these two, both those guys," Martindale said about Williams and Lawrence. "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."

CB Adoree' Jackson

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.

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

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