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Scouting Report: Matchups to watch on Sunday


The New York Giants (3-8) take on the New England Patriots (2-8) this week.  Here are two matchups to watch that could determine the winner on Sunday at MetLife Stadium:

Saquon Barkley vs. Patriots rush defense

Despite their overall struggles, the Patriots' rush defense has been a strength this season. They are allowing only 3.4 rushing yards per play, which is the second-best mark in the NFL. They are also holding opponents to an average of under 100 rush yards per game (97.7, ninth-best in the NFL).

The success is reflected in the advanced numbers with the sixth-best EPA allowed per rush (.13) and a 62.7 percent rush success rate (second-best in the NFL). All those numbers are a big reason the Patriots are the second-best defensive team in the NFL on first down, allowing only 4.8 yards per play. They've allowed only 18 runs of 10 or more yards this year, which is tied for second-fewest in the NFL.

The Patriots have a very talented defensive tackle in Christian Barmore, an active middle linebacker in Jahlani Tavai, and two very good safeties in Kyle Dugger and Jabrill Peppers.

It will be a challenge for Saquon Barkley, whose success is a key to the offense working. Last week, Barkley accounted for two of the Giants' three plays of 30 yards or more (both runs) and four of their eight plays of 20 yards or more (two receptions). Since Week 7, Barkley leads the NFL in carries, touches, rush yards, and is second in scrimmage yards to only CeeDee Lamb.

Barkley is the only NFL player who has received at least 50 percent of his team's touches since Week 7 (50.4) and his 38.6 percent share of Giants scrimmage yards also leads the NFL. He makes this Giants offense go, and if he isn't consistently successful it puts a lot on the shoulders of Tommey Devitto against a Bill Belichick-coached defense that historically has a lot of success against rookie quarterbacks.

Barkley has averaged more than five yards per carry in his last three games and has at least 100 scrimmage yards in four of his last five. The Patriots, meanwhile, have held opponents to under 100 rushing yards and four yards per carry in four of their last five games. It will be a classic battle between the strengths of two teams on Sunday afternoon.

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Dexter Lawrence vs. David Andrews

Dexter Lawrence continues to be the most dominant player on the Giants this season. Last week, his consistent pass pressure (along with Kayvon Thibodeaux), was the main factor in disrupting the Commanders' passing offense. When he has been dominant this season, the Giants' defense has played well. When other teams have managed to limit his impact, which has not been often, the defense has had some of its less impressive performances.

Lawrence has only four sacks, but his 59 pressures is 24 more than any other Giants player (Thibodeaux has 35). He has the fifth-most pressures in the league, and more than any other defensive tackle (including Aaron Donald, who has 52). His 20.7 pass rush win rate is the eighth-best mark in the NFL, which is unheard of for a player that spends most of his time at nose tackle.

This week he will go against the Patriots' longest-tenured offensive lineman, David Andrews. He has been starting at center for the Patriots since he joined them as an undrafted free agent in 2015. Andrews is as solid as they come, but he has had some trouble in pass protection this season. He has allowed three sacks, two quarterback hits, and 15 total pressures this season.

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