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5 players to watch in Giants vs. Eagles

PLAYERS-TO-WATCH-WEEK-16

After winning three consecutive contests, a stretch that saw the Giants take home the Rookie of the Week award in each of those games, Brian Daboll's squad fell to the Saints in New Orleans this past weekend, 24-6. The loss brought the team's record to 5-9, as they now sit two games out of the final two NFC Wild Card spots.

On the other side, the Eagles traveled across the country to Seattle to take on the Seahawks on Monday Night Football. Despite leading for most of the game, the Eagles wound up losing after Drew Lock led the Seahawks down the field for the game-winning touchdown in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter. Philadelphia's 10-4 record has them tied with Dallas for the lead in the NFC East.

Here are five players to watch in the Christmas Day divisional matchup.

RB Saquon Barkley

Barkley enters this matchup just 41 yards shy of tying Brandon Jacobs for the fourth-most rushing yards in Giants history (5,087). The Eagles have had one of the league's best run defenses this year, ranking seventh in both yards and touchdowns allowed on the ground. However, most of their success against the run came before the team's Week 10 bye.

Through their first nine games, the Eagles allowed an average of 66.3 rushing yards per game with only one opponent topping 100 yards (Commanders in Week 4). But in their five games following the bye, the Eagles have surrendered an average of 145 rushing yards per game as every opponent has reached at least 100 yards on the ground.

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

TE Darren Waller

Darren Waller returned to action on Sunday after missing the previous five games with a hamstring injury. In his first game back, the veteran tight end tied for the team lead with four receptions which went for a total of 40 yards. Taking out the Week 8 contest against the Jets in which he left in the first half due to the hamstring injury, Waller has now reached 40 receiving yards in each of his last four games. Even with missing more than five games this season, Waller still ranks second on the team with 40 receptions for 424 yards.

Philadelphia ranks 14th in the league with 70 receptions and 691 receiving yards allowed to tight ends this season, while their six touchdowns surrendered to the position are tied for the fifth-most. Seahawks tight ends Noah Fant, Will Dissly and Colby Parkinson combined for six receptions on Monday night, but only gained 31 yards. However, Cowboys tight end Jake Ferguson and 49ers tight end George Kittle averaged 4.5 receptions for 70 yards in the two weeks prior.

DL A'Shawn Robinson

Since the Giants traded defensive lineman Leonard Williams to the Seahawks prior to Week 9, A'Shawn Robinson has seen a big increase in playing time. Prior to the trade, Robinson played at least 50 percent of the team's defensive snaps just once in eight games. After Williams was dealt, he reached 50 percent of the snaps in five of six games.

Not only has Robinson seen more playing time since Week 9, but he has also seen his production spike. The veteran defensive tackle has totaled at least four tackles in five of the six games since the trade and has registered eight total tackles in each of the last two contests. Robinson is up to 52 total tackles on the season, including four tackles for loss, tied for the second-most he's had in a season in his eight-year NFL career.

Robinson will be called upon Monday to help slow down Philadelphia's elite rushing attack. Through the first 14 games of the season, the Eagles rank eighth in yards and fifth in touchdowns on the ground this year. They are coming off a game against the Seahawks in which they totaled 178 rushing yards, their fifth time topping 100 yards on the ground in their last six games.

OLB Kayvon Thibodeaux

Thibodeaux has racked up 11.5 sacks heading into Week 16 after finishing with just four sacks across 14 games his rookie season. He has also beat his first year marks with three forced fumbles, 12 tackles for loss and 14 quarterback hits.

"We've talked about it before, and I've thought about it even more," defensive coordinator Wink Martindale told the media last week. "I said that the guy has no ceiling. You remember me saying that before. The reason why he doesn't have a ceiling is because he doesn't allow himself to have a ceiling. He's in here working every day. He and (Outside Linebackers Coach) Drew (Wilkins) are in there watching tape from everything from A to Z because that's what he does. He's dropping in coverage, and they handle all that. So, I can't say enough about his work ethic, and he has that knack.

"To me, he's a finisher at the football, whether it's a sack, a strip sack, or the play you saw on Monday night when we had (Packers quarterback Jordan) Love held up and he dug the ball out. He's leading the defense. I mean, he's a vocal leader out there. Like I already said, it's crazy, because the guy is only 22 years old. He's becoming that football savant in the NFL where he sees things before they happen. He knows what's coming. That's a testament to, like I said, he and Drew Wilkins, and how hard they study the game. It's fun to watch."

The Eagles have done a good job protecting quarterback Jalen Hurts this season, as their 33 sacks allowed are tied for the 10th-fewest in the NFL. However, Philadelphia is dealing with some injuries along the offensive line. Starting right guard Cam Jurgens missed the game in Seattle with a pectoral injury, while starting left guard Landon Dickerson is dealing with a thumb injury. The status of both linemen will have to be monitored leading up to Monday's game.

S Jason Pinnock

Safety Jason Pinnock has quietly been one of the most consistent players on the Giants' defense all season. The third-year safety has played no less than 97 percent of the team's defensive snaps in every outing, and has been on the field for every defensive snap in 10 different games. On top of his contributions on defense, in which he has started as safety in every game, Pinnock has also played a role on special teams.

The increase in playing time has led to an increase in production for the safety whom the Giants claimed off waivers prior to the start of the 2022 campaign. Pinnock ranks fourth on the team with 77 total tackles, shattering his previous career-high of 41 tackles set last year, while his two interceptions are tied for the team-lead. The 24-year-old has done a little of everything this season, adding six passes defensed, two sacks, one forced fumble, six tackles for loss and four quarterback hits.

One of Pinnock's primary responsibilities Monday will likely be covering Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert. The 28-year-old tight end missed three games earlier this season after fracturing his forearm. Despite being sidelined for several weeks, Goedert still ranks third on the team with 46 receptions for 470 yards and two touchdowns. Pinnock has been on the field for 497 coverage snaps this season, according to Pro Football Focus, and has a 77.5 passer rating when targeted.

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

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