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Players to Watch: Eyes on the pass rush

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The Giants complete their stretch of four games in five weeks at MetLife Stadium with Sunday's matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Coming off last week's tie against the Commanders, the Giants will need to be at their best against the league-leading Eagles. Philadelphia comes into this contest riding a three-game winning streak after easily handling the Tennessee Titans, 35-10, last week.

The Eagles present a tough challenge as they have been perhaps the most balanced team across the NFL this season. Their offense and defense each rank in the Top 3 in yards, while both units are among the best in points.

Here are five players to watch in the divisional matchup at MetLife:

QB Daniel Jones

Despite last week's contest finishing in the franchise's first tie in 25 years, Daniel Jones put together one of his most efficient outings of the season. Jones became just the second quarterback in the NFC this season to have two games with a completion percentage of 80+ percent when he converted on 25 of 31 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown. He earned a 104.3 passer rating, marking the third time in his last four games at MetLife Stadium he finished with at least a 100. Jones also ran the ball a career-high 12 times for 71 yards (5.9 avg.).

Through the first 12 games of the season, Jones is completing a career-high 66 percent of his passes. His 11 touchdown passes match the most he's had in the past three seasons, while his four interceptions and three fumbles lost have him on pace for a career-low in turnovers. Jones has also set new career-highs on the ground in several categories, including attempts (91), yards (522), touchdowns (four) and yards per game (43.5). He's fifth among NFL quarterbacks in rushing yards.

Jones has perhaps his toughest matchup of the season. Philadelphia boasts the league's top passing defense as they're surrendering just 178.5 yards in the air per game. On top of that, their opponents' 60.3 completion percentage ranks fourth with an NFL-high 15 interceptions. On Sunday, their secondary will be led by their star cornerback duo of Darius Slay and James Bradberry, who have registered three interceptions apiece and have a combined 24 pass breakups.

"Both those guys Bradberry and Slay are really good corners," coach Brian Daboll said Wednesday. "They can play zone, they can play man, they're experienced. I think they read routes well. They're two hard guys outside to throw the ball against."

TE Daniel Bellinger

Daniel Bellinger suffered a scary and serious eye injury against the Jaguars in Week 7, which led him undergoing eye surgery and missing the next four games. But the rookie tight end returned against the Commanders and played a season-high 97 percent of the team's offensive snaps, missing only two plays. He caught all five targets for 24 yards.

"I knew going in I was going to play a lot and I was comfortable with it," Bellinger said Monday. "I felt good physically. I know I did a good job with the training staff keeping in shape, so I don't feel bad about missing the two snaps, but I wish I could be in there every play."

"It was good to have him back," Daboll added. "Hopefully, we just keep improving with him. But it definitely was good to have him out there."

Despite missing four games, Bellinger is still tied for the team-lead with two receiving touchdowns this season. The Eagles have surrendered an average of 4.3 receptions and 42.2 yards per game to opposing tight ends. Titans rookie tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo led the team with four receptions for 68 yards last week.

C Jon Feliciano

After missing the Thanksgiving Day matchup due to a neck injury, Jon Feliciano was back on the field Sunday against a tough Commanders defensive line. The veteran center battled Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne, with Feliciano refusing to surrender any pressures on 41 pass block snaps. His performance earned him a spot on Pro Football Focus' Team of the Week.

Philadelphia ranks second in the league with 42 sacks - five players have registered at least five. Linebacker Haason Reddick leads the way with nine, but the unit gets a ton of pressure from the interior. Defensive tackle Javon Hargrave has eight sacks, and fellow defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (who has made numerous big plays against the Giants in his career) five.

View rare photos of the historic rivalry between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles.

DL Dexter Lawrence

Dexter Lawrence continued his stellar 2022 campaign with yet another dominant outing last Sunday. Lawrence notched his sixth sack and 19th and 20th quarterback hits of the season – career highs in both categories. He added a personal-best nine total tackles while playing 91 percent of the unit's snaps.

The fourth-year defensive lineman trails only Kansas City's Chris Jones in total pressures among interior rushers and has added an impressive 28 run stops. His 44 total pressures have already topped his previous career-high of 43 (2021). Lawrence also leads all defensive linemen with eight games of 5+ tackles.

Philadelphia ranks second in points and third in yards while sporting a Top 5 rushing attack. RB Miles Sanders has rushed for 924 yards and nine touchdowns while QB Jalen Hurts has added 609 yards and nine scores. Both are averaging more than 4.5 yards per carry, which means Lawrence and the Big Blue run defense will have to bring their best.

OLB Azeez Ojulari

Azeez Ojulari was able to make his return to the field on Sunday, marking his first appearance since re-injuring his calf in Week 4. Ojulari was on a limited snap count, playing 58 percent of the snaps against the Commanders. He registered a sack and forced fumble and finished with two quarterback hits.

The Eagles come into this game ranking middle of the pack in sacks allowed (30). Yet Hurts has shown a lot of growth as a passer. The third-year quarterback completed 74.4 percent of his passes last week for 380 yards, three touchdowns for a passer rating of 130.3. It marked the third time this season Hurts has thrown for at least 285 yards and three or more touchdowns without an interception. The young signal-caller has a league-best 20-to-3 TD-to-INT ratio this season, which has led to his 108.3 passer rating.

Hurts and Daboll spent the 2017 season together at Alabama, where they won the National Championship. The head coach spent some time discussing his former quarterback on Wednesday, and it became clear that Hurts left a very strong impression on his former offensive coordinator.

"I've got a lot of respect for Jalen," said Daboll. "Tremendous person first and foremost. Highly competitive, extremely smart, great leader, (it's) the reason why he's probably at the top of the list for MVP right now. Playing with a great team, you can go on and on about Jalen. He means a lot to me...

"He's as competitive and mentally tough as I've ever been around. He's a great teammate. Unfortunately, we have to play them twice a year, very happy for the success that he's had. Again, he's a special young man to me, and he's just a mentally tough guy. Nothing rattles him, he doesn't get rattled. So, he had this happen, this happens, he doesn't worry about all that stuff. He just focuses on what he needs to focus on, the short time I was around him. I haven't been around him for five years or whatever it is. But just as a young college person, you have a great appreciation for his mental toughness, his competitive stamina, and his leadership."

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