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10 Things To Watch For

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10 things to watch in Giants vs. Eagles

DABOLL-SIRIANNI-10-THINGS

ENDING ON A HIGH NOTE

The Giants' playoff chances took a significant hit when they lost to the New Orleans Saints in Week 15. The following week, the team was officially eliminated from playoff contention with their Christmas Day loss against the Eagles. However, that did not stop the Giants from putting together a strong effort against the Rams this past week. All three phases came up with big plays as the Giants fell just short of pulling off the upset victory.

Heading into the season finale, head coach Brian Daboll did not express any concern about his team failing to put their best foot forward this Sunday.

"You have to understand, they're professionals," Daboll told reporters Monday. "So, everybody has a job to do in this league. You try to do it as good as you can do it, try to prepare, take a lot of pride in your work, put a lot of time into it. They put a lot of time into their body, into their studying, they study in groups.

"This is a group of guys that have worked really hard. We haven't got the results that we want, but the competitive stamina, we certainly talk about competing and finishing and being good teammates. Those are all important characteristics for our program. Again, not the results that we've wanted this season, but try to finish strong on a good note against a good team that we just played last week. But certainly, you talk about competition and resiliency and toughness and finish, accountability, all those types of things."

ALL-TIME SERIES

The New York Giants (5-11) and the Philadelphia Eagles (11-5) face off in MetLife Stadium for the Giants' 2023 season finale. Kickoff is set for 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS.

Sunday's game is the second of two matchups in a three-week span between the teams. The Eagles took the first meeting, 33-25, in Week 16. The Giants are 85-90-2 in the regular-season series and 48-40-1 as the home team. They are 2-3 against NFC East opponents this season.

View photos of the Giants on the practice field ahead of the Week 18 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles.

INJURY REPORT

Giants

Out: S Jason Pinnock (toe)

Doubtful: CB Deonte Banks (shoulder)

Questionable: C John Michael Schmitz (shin)

Eagles

Out: WR DeVonta Smith (ankle), CB Darius Slay (knee)

Questionable: RB D'Andre Swift (illness)

WINK: DEX 'AN UNBLOCKABLE PLAYER'

When the NFL announced this season's Pro Bowlers, it did not come as a surprise to see Dexter Lawrence named a starter. The fifth-year defensive lineman has put together yet another dominant season, one that saw him register 4.5 sacks, seven tackles for loss and 19 quarterback hits to go with his 61 total pressures. Heading into the season finale, Lawrence is the highest-ranked interior defensive lineman by Pro Football Focus, and is tied with San Francisco's Nick Bosa for the second-highest defender overall by the analytics site, trailing only Cleveland's Myles Garrett.

Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale has had nothing but high praise for Lawrence since the veteran coach arrived in East Rutherford in early 2022. This continued on Thursday, as the defensive coordinator once again referred to Lawrence as the "centerpiece" of the defense.

"Dex has stayed Dex since I've been here," Martindale told reporters. "He was a really good player before we got here and then he had a great year last year. He hasn't changed his work ethic; he hasn't changed anything about him. I think sometimes he might put too much pressure on himself, but that's what all the great ones do. Like I said, I'm really happy for Dex."

Lawrence has now become the first Giants defensive lineman to be selected to the Pro Bowl in consecutive seasons since end Jason Pierre-Paul in 2011-12. He is also the team's first interior lineman to be selected to multiple Pro Bowls since tackle Arnie Weinmeister went to four in a row from 1950-53.

"When you say that any good defense, especially this system, where you can be most effective is when you have a center piece of the defense and he's definitely been the center piece of the defense for us," said the defensive coordinator. "And we just got to keep building this thing around him and we'll see. The sacks are a bonus, out of the nose, you know what I mean? The sacks are a bonus, and he has a way of getting to the quarterback too and I think that's what makes him so unique. I think when he wants to be he can be an unblockable player. And let's enjoy watching him play this last time here against Philly."

ADJUSTING TO SEASON'S QB CHANGES

The Giants have dealt with injuries at numerous positions this season, but none may have been affected more than the quarterback position. Daniel Jones (six), Tommy DeVito (six) and Tyrod Taylor (four) have each made multiple starts this season. While each have enjoyed some positive moments, any season with three different players starting games under center can be tough on an offense. Considering all of the adversity his unit faced, offensive coordinator Mike Kafka said he was proud of his players.

"I think when you go through the preseason, you go through the training camp and OTAs and stuff, you really try to dive deep into not only the position strengths and weaknesses, the player strengths and weaknesses, but then what schematically we do as a group when they're in there as well," Kafka said. "There's been – and every group has injuries and got next man standing up but one thing that I'm proud of with our group is (that) they had the next man up mentality. Guys stepped up, young players, veteran guys had to step up, and that's something that I'm really proud of our guys (for). They never flinched, they battled all the way through it, and I think our guys have come closer because of that."

Daboll announced earlier in the week that Taylor would start his fifth game this weekend. After coming into the game in the second half of the Week 16 matchup in Philadelphia, the veteran quarterback threw for 133 yards and a touchdown while adding two carries for 21 yards. Taylor and Darius Slayton connected on a 69-yard touchdown pass, the first of two deep touchdowns between the quarterback and wide receiver in the last two weeks.

GUNNER 'WORKS LIKE A PRO'

The Giants got their biggest special teams play of the season this past Sunday when Gunner Olszewski returned a punt 94 yards for a touchdown. This big play led to him being named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week.

Olszewski joined the Giants in Week 8 after being waived by the Pittsburgh Steelers. In his nine games with the team, the 27-year-old has returned 20 punts for 244 yards. His 12.2 yards per punt return rank as the fifth-highest in the NFL this season.

"The guy works at it," said special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey. "He's very diligent in how he goes about his day. He's a pro. He works like a pro. I think you all saw all of those things come into play when he made that play. Super proud of him and the way he's bounced back. Playing against him and then him coming over here from Pittsburgh after the troubles that he had and just really refocused on what he needed to do. Obviously, he made a big play the other day."

Olszewski's 94-yard return against the Rams was the second longest in Giants history and the longest in 95 years. Additionally, it was the team's first punt return touchdown since Dwayne Harris scored on an 80-yard return against the Jets on December 6, 2015.

WINK TALKS BANKS' ROOKIE SEASON

With one game remaining in his first NFL season, cornerback Deonte Banks has put together a solid rookie campaign. Banks ranks within the top five among rookie cornerbacks with 11 passes defensed to go with his two interceptions, 64 total tackles (53 solo) and two tackles for loss. According to PFF, Banks has been targeted 92 times and has earned a passer rating against of 84.7.

Martindale spoke Thursday about the challenges rookie cornerbacks typically face in their first season, and the bright future he sees for the 22-year-old.

"I think he did a lot of good things," the defensive coordinator told reporters. "I think that you still have to fight through – I'm saying Tae, myself, Rome, (Defensive backs Coach Jerome Henderson), who's done a great job with him, just the new things that he sees that's different in this league compared to college and he's been growing through those. The biggest jump is always from the first year to the second year so I'm expecting big things from Tae."

Banks missed the Week 17 matchup against the Rams due to a shoulder injury. It marked the rookie cornerback's first game missed this season. Banks has been limited at practice this week, but on Wednesday, Daboll told the media he's "hopeful" that Banks will be able to suit up for the season finale.

WEEK 18 IMPLICATIONS

As mentioned above, the Giants were officially eliminated from playoff contention with their Week 16 loss to the Eagles. However, this weekend's regular season finale still has some implications for the franchise. At 5-11, the Giants currently hold the No. 5 pick in the NFL Draft. A win would likely cause them to drop in the draft order, but no lower than No. 8. On the other hand, the Giants could move all the way up to the No. 2 pick with a loss and some outside factors. The Commanders, Patriots and Cardinals are all 4-12, and a win for any of them in Week 18 could mean the Giants move up.

On the other sideline, Sunday's game still has significant meaning for the Eagles. Philadelphia currently holds the No. 5 seed in the NFC. However, a win paired with a Dallas Cowboys loss against the Washington Commanders would result in Philadelphia winning the NFC East. This would lead to the Eagles earning the No. 2 in the conference, as they hold the tiebreaker over the Detroit Lions. But if the Giants emerge with the victory, or if the Cowboys win their game, then the Eagles are locked in to the No. 5 seed, where they will take on the winner of the NFC South on Wild Card Weekend.

LOOKING AT EAGLES OFFENSE

In the first meeting between the two teams, Jalen Hurts completed 24 of 38 passes for 301 yards, one touchdown and one interception, earning him a passer rating of 85.5. Hurts also added eight rush attempts for 34 yards (4.3 avg.) and an additional score. However, the 25-year-old quarterback also fumbled the ball once, which was recovered by the Eagles, while his one interception resulted in a 76-yard return for a touchdown by cornerback Adoree' Jackson. Hurts was better against the Cardinals, as he completed 78.3 percent of his passes for three touchdowns, one interception and a 118.4 passer rating, but it wasn't enough to pick up the win.

The Eagles ran for 170 yards against the Giants in Week 16, led by running back D'Andre Swift's 92 yards on 20 carries (4.6 avg.). Swift also found the end zone on Christmas, his only touchdown since Week 11, while fellow running back Kenneth Gainwell took six carries for 41 yards (6.8 avg.) and caught three passes for 38 yards. Philadelphia gained just 91 yards on the ground in last week's loss to Arizona.

After putting together six consecutive games with at least 125 receiving yards from Weeks 3 through 8, wide receiver A.J. Brown has had just one game with over 100 receiving yards since (Week 13 vs. 49ers). Brought caught six of 11 targets for 80 yards in the first game against the Giants, but followed that up with just four receptions for 53 yards on five targets last week.

Fellow wide receiver DeVonta Smith, who had 79 yards and a touchdown in Week 16, injured his ankle against the Cardinals, putting his status for Sunday in doubt. Smith's injury this past weekend paved the way for Julio Jones to see more action, and the veteran responded with two touchdowns. Meanwhile, tight end Dallas Goedert, who finished with seven receptions for 71 yards on Christmas, followed that up with five receptions for 47 yards and a score against the Cardinals.

SCOUTING PHILLY'S DEFENSE

The Philadelphia defense struggled to slow down Arizona in the second half of last week's game. After the Eagles took a 21-6 lead into halftime, the Cardinals offense could not be stopped in the final two quarters. Arizona got the ball four times in the second half and scored four touchdowns, all of which were on drives of at least 70 yards. In the second half alone, the Cardinals gained 299 total yards of offense, most of which came on early downs as Arizona faced just a total of two third downs in the second half.

The Eagles did get a couple of solid performances from a few defenders in last week's loss. Rookie safety Sydney Brown intercepted a pass and returned in 99 yards for a touchdown, while fellow rookie defensive lineman Jalen Carter notched his sixth sack of the season. Meanwhile, Philadelphia had three players record 10+ total tackles – linebacker Nicholas Morrow and safeties Reed Blankenship and Kevin Byard.

The Giants allowed just one sack in the first meeting against the Eagles, as veteran linebacker Shaquille Leonard got to Tommy DeVito in the first half of the Christmas Day matchup. Philadelphia also had one takeaway in the game, as rookie cornerback Kelee Ringo intercepted Tyrod Taylor in the end zone on the final play of the game.

It remains to be seen if the Philly defense will receive a boost this week in the form of cornerback Darius Slay. The veteran corner has missed the last three games with a knee injury, but the team did not place him on injured reserve, thus indicating they believe he could make a return this week. When asked about Slay's possible return, Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni told reporters "We'll see where he is this week."

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