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Giants vs. Eagles: 5 storylines to follow in Week 12

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The Giants will look to get back on track Sunday as they welcome the Philadelphia Eagles to MetLife Stadium for their first meeting of the season. 

Big Blue emerged from the bye with a challenging Week 11 matchup, traveling to Tampa Bay and losing to the Buccaneers, 30-10. The Eagles come into this game winners of two straight and three of their last four. They defeated the New Orleans Saints last week, 40-29, as they ran for 242 yards, their second consecutive outing with 215+ rushing yards. Philadelphia's defense also forced three turnovers, including two interceptions. The Giants will also honor one of their all-time greats during this contest, as Hall of Fame defensive end Michael Strahan will have his No. 92 jersey retired during a special halftime ceremony.

Here are five storylines to follow in the Week 11 matchup.

Future of offense after change at OC

On Tuesday, the Giants relieved Jason Garrett of his duties as the team's offensive coordinator. While Judge would not announce who would be taking over as the team's offensive play-caller, he did admit you can expect to see some changes this Sunday.

"There are a number of things that could change," Judge said. "Changing a play caller is one aspect of it and maybe the approach we take as an offense is another aspect of it. In a short week, you're not going to go ahead and completely blow up an offense and redo things, but you are going to look to use things a little bit differently. Maybe that's personnel, maybe that's scheme, maybe that's situation calls, whatever it may be.

"As we build through the game plan this week, that's what we're focusing on. In terms of how the game gets called, we'll talk about it as we build on through the week, what we think is best in the game plan, what our adjustments will be and when we get into the game situationally, what ends up being best for us to call."

Quarterback Daniel Jones added, "It's about moving forward now, understanding that we've got to keep going and it's on all of us to perform better at each of our jobs. We all have to play better and produce more."

The Eagles defense has been up and down this season. The unit ranks 20th in points allowed and 13th in yards, but has struggled to keep opponents out of the end zone once in the red zone. Teams are scoring on 66.7 percent of their trips inside the 20-yard line against Philadelphia, with their defense ranking 24th in both passing and rushing touchdowns surrendered.

Saquon continuing to get his body back

The Giants got one of their top playmakers back for the game against Tampa Bay, as running back Saquon Barkley suited up for the first time since injuring his ankle against the Cowboys in Week 5. He averaged 4.2 yards per carry on six rush attempts while catching all six of his targets for 31 yards. 

"Getting my feet caught back up," Barkley said after the game. "That just comes with missing a little time and just getting my body back. I'm going to do whatever it takes to continue to get my body back. To get my brain and my feet and my legs caught up together. That starts with this week. Obviously, we got a short week. We got a big game coming up against the Eagles and just take it one day at a time and get better." 

Barkley was just getting into a groove prior to injuring his ankle. In the Week 4 win over the Saints, the 24-year-old recorded 126 total yards on 18 touches (13 rushes, five receptions) and scored two touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime. He has played a large role in the passing game, catching at least five passes in each of the last three full games in which he's played. On the season, Barkley has 20 receptions for 161 yards and a score.

The Eagles' run defense got off to a slow start, allowing each of their first seven opponents to register over 100 yards on the ground. But over their last four games, Philadelphia has allowed an average of just 87.8 rushing yards per game. On the season, they rank 21st in rushing yards and 24th in rushing touchdowns allowed.

Andrew Thomas' impact on O-line

Andrew Thomas made his return to the field on Monday after missing four of the last five games due to injury. Thomas was solid in his return, earning a 70.9 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, including a 78.8 pass block grade. Of course, he scored the Giants' only touchdown on an impressive catch, which earned him a 90.4 receiving grade. On the season, the second-year tackle ranks 15th among all tackles with his 78.1 pass block grade.

Thomas was not the only lineman to put up a solid performance against a talented Buccaneers pass rush. Right tackle Nate Solder earned a 65.2 pass block grade, while center Billy Price received a 63.4 grade. Meanwhile, left guard Matt Skura finished with a 77.6 overall grade, the highest on the offense. Jones was sacked just twice in this contest, although he was pressured at a higher rate.

"I like the way our offensive line is moving right now," Judge told the media Wednesday. "They're working together, playing as a unit. I've seen a lot of progress throughout the year. I love the job (Offensive Line Coach) Rob (Sale) and the offensive line guys are doing together. I like the way these guys have battled throughout a lot of different moving parts. They play for each other, they have a good attitude. Being able to block out the noise and play for one another, I'm very proud of that group as a unit." 

Despite his stats in the final box score, Jones' numbers looked good when he was kept clean in the pocket. The third-year QB had a completion rate of 89 percent for 124 yards and 6.9 yards per attempt when given time to throw. When pressured, his completion percentage dropped to 35 percent for 43 yards and 2.1 yards per attempt. The Eagles come into this game tied for 28th in the NFL with 18 sacks on the season, and just one in their last three games.

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

Slowing down Eagles' run game

The Eagles enter Week 12 with one of the top running games in the entire league. In 11 games, the offense has run for 1,687 yards, good for an average of 153.4 yards per game. Only the Cleveland Browns (156.8) are averaging more yards on the ground this season. Additionally, Philadelphia's 17 rushing touchdowns is tied with the Brows and Arizona Cardinals for the most in the NFL. 

Philadelphia has scored 30+ points in three of their last four contests, including two games with 40+ points. In all three of those games, all of which were wins, the Eagles ran for over 215 yards on the ground, with three different players topping 50 rushing yards. Jalen Hurts is easily the team's leading rusher, as his 618 yards on the ground are 224 yards more than the next highest (Miles Sanders at 394 yards). In fact, regardless of position, Hurts ranks 9th in the league in rushing yards. Sanders has yet to find the end zone this year, but Jordan Howard, Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell have each scored three rushing touchdowns. Hurts has eight scores on the ground himself. 

"(Eagles Head Coach) Nick (Sirianni) is doing a really good job evolving their offense in terms of what he's being presented with," Coach Judge told reporters Wednesday. "I think you really see it the last few weeks. The run game is becoming a lot more prominent part of their offense, they've been a lot more productive in terms of scoring points and obviously having wins. They're playing their best ball at this point in the season. It's a big part of their game and the run is really setting the pass game for these guys. A key part of the run game is not just the backs, which are all very talented, but also the quarterback, as well."

The Giants limited Buccaneers running backs Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones to 68 yards on 18 carries. While the defense ranks 22nd in rushing yards allowed on the year, the unit is tied for 7th in rushing touchdowns surrendered. 

Getting pressure on Hurts

The Giants struggled to get pressure on Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady last week. The Big Blue defense was unable to get to the 44-year-old throughout the game as the veteran threw for 307 yards and two touchdowns in three and a half quarters. The defense was able to finish the game with one sack, but it wasn't until backup QB Blaine Gabbert was in the game late in the fourth quarter. Rookie lineman Raymond Johnson III finished with the highest pass rush grade on the team with his 66.2.

The defense has picked up 20 sacks through the first 10 games of the season, which is tied for 22nd in the league. However, over their last three games, the defense has registered just three total sacks. This week's matchup presents a tough challenge for the defense to add to that number. The Eagles have allowed just 20 sacks through 11 games, which is tied for the 11th-fewest in the league. A big part of that is due to Hurts' mobility, as the young quarterback has proven to be tough to bring down.

"Talking specifically about the Eagles, this is a group of guys with a lot of talent," Judge said Wednesday. "You look at their offense, it's an explosive offense, a lot of speed at the receiver positions. I think (Eagles Quarterback) Jalen Hurts is doing a really good job of running the ball, extending plays, giving opportunities down the field.

Philadelphia has several talented offensive linemen, starting with veteran right tackle Lane Johnson. Johnson has earned 76.4 pass block grade this season, and right behind him is left tackle Jordan Mailata with his 76.3 pass block grade. Center Jason Kelce has also played well, receiving an 82.8 overall grade this season, while right guard Jack Driscoll ranks 7th among guards with his 76.5 pass block grade.

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Tickets for Michael Strahan Ceremony

Limited tickets are available for Michael Strahan's jersey retirement game on November 28th

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