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Scouting Report: Key matchups for Christmas Day in Philadelphia

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The New York Giants take on a familiar opponent Saturday when they travel down the turnpike for a Christmas Day game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Here are the key matchups that could decide the outcome:

A.J. Brown vs. Deonte Banks

Brown has developed into one of the best receivers in football. His 1,314 receiving yards trail only Tyreek Hill, and his 95 receptions rank fifth in the NFL. He is Jalen Hurts' top receiver with 141 targets this season, which is tied with CeeDee Lamb for the third-most in the NFL. He also has seven touchdown catches and 14 catches of 25 or more yards (tied for second).

Brown can do it in different ways. At 6-foot-1 and 226 pounds, Brown is one of the strongest receivers in the NFL. He is difficult to bring down with the ball in his hands. According to Pro Football Focus, Brown is second to only Hill among wide receivers in missed tackles forced with 19 (tied with Deebo Samuel and Stefon Diggs). Running a 4.49 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, Brown also has the speed to win over the top. His average depth of target of 13.0 yards is 25th in the league.

PFF calculates yards per route run, which is a good overarching number to determine how truly impactful a wide receiver is in action. Brown ranks sixth in the NFL at 2.55, trailing only Hill, Brandon Aiyuk, Nico Collins, Justin Jefferson, and Jaylen Waddle. He is a true No. 1 wide receiver who can wreck the game.

Banks has been drawing the opponent's top wide receiver, especially when they are of the bigger, more physical variety. Brown spends only a quarter of his time in the slot, which means Banks will be able to stay outside for more of the game and still travel with Brown.

Banks has two interceptions this year and 11 passes defended, including one on a deep pass down the left sideline against the Saints. Banks ran a 4.35 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, and is strong and physical at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds. He shouldn't be overwhelmed by Brown's size or speed, but he will have to be very careful with his technique or the savvy Brown could take advantage of him.

The Giants have played more zone of late, especially against teams with dangerous receivers like Brown and DeVonta Smith. It will be interesting to see how they approach an Eagles team that has lost three straight and sputtered on offense.

Jalen Carter vs. Justin Pugh & Ben Bredeson

Jalen Carter is only in his rookie year and already rushes the passer like an elite defensive tackle. According to PFF, his 45 pressures lead Eagles defensive tackles and rank 16th in the NFL behind stalwarts like Arik Armstead, Jonathan Allen, and Javon Hargrave. His 17 percent pass rush win rate ranks only behind the best players at the position: Aaron Donald, Dexter Lawrence, Quinnen Williams, and Chris Jones. Carter spends slightly more time on the right side of the defensive line but will line up on both sides, so he will draw Justin Pugh and Ben Bredeson at different times in the game.

The Eagles will try to let their pass rushers win one-on-one on four-man rushes, blitzing only 23 percent of the time (fifth-lowest rate in the NFL) and running twists or stunts 22.1 percent of the time (fourth-lowest rate in the NFL). Under Matt Patricia calling the defense for the first time on Monday night, the Eagles blitzed only twice, which was the lowest rate in the NFL last week. They ran stunts only 19 percent of the time.

After leading the NFL with 70 sacks last season, the Eagles have only 39 (tied for 13th) with three games left to play. Their sack per pass attempt number has dropped from 12.6 percent last year (firth in the NFL) to 7 percent in 2023 (23rd in the NFL). Their 36.8 percent pressure rate this season (13th) is down from 38.7 percent last season (second in the NFL).

View photos of the Giants on the practice field ahead of the Week 16 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles.

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