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5 Players to Watch in Giants vs. Jets

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The Giants will look to make it two wins in a row when they take on the Jets in Week 8.

Following a close loss in Buffalo the previous week, the Giants welcomed the Commanders to MetLife Stadium for an NFC East matchup this past Sunday. The defense put on a dominant performance while the Giants offense scored their first two touchdowns in over three games, which led to a 14-7 victory over their division foe.

The Jets had a bye in Week , but won back-to-back contests leading up to the break. After going on the road and beating the Broncos in Denver, the Jets defeated the Eagles, 20-14, in Week 6 after forcing four turnovers, including three interceptions from Jalen Hurts.

Here are five players to watch in the Week 8 matchup.

RB Saquon Barkley

For the first time this season, Barkley topped 100 yards from scrimmage in last week's win over the Commanders. The sixth-year running back rushed for 77 yards and added 41 yards through the air on three receptions, including one that went for 32 yards and a touchdown. It marked the third game of the year in which Barkley had more than 90 yards from scrimmage (he missed Weeks 3-5).

Barkley's presence on the field made a big impact in the passing game beyond his three receptions. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor completed 75 percent of his passes (6 of 8) for 113 yards, one touchdown and a nearly perfect 156.3 passer rating on play-action passes. He averaged just over 14 yards per attempt on those passes, compared to just under eight yards per attempt on non-play action passes.

The Jets have a talented defensive front, although the unit has struggled a bit against the run this year. Heading into Week 8, the Jets rank 26th in the league with an average of 135.2 rushing yards allowed per game, while their 4.4 average yards per carry surrendered ranks 24th. However, the unit has done a good job of keeping opposing running backs out of the end zone, as they have allowed just two rushing touchdowns, tied for the second-best in the NFL.

View photos of the Giants on the practice field ahead of the Week 8 matchup against the New York Jets.

TE Darren Waller

Waller had his breakout Giants performance in Week 7. The veteran tight end had a game-high and personal season-high seven receptions for 98 yards and scored his first touchdown as a Giant. His 14.0 yards per reception and 12.3 yards per target were also both his highest marks of the season, along with his longest reception of 27 yards.

Through the first seven games, Waller has been the top target in the passing game. The 31-year-old has registered 49 targets, 35 receptions and 380 yards, all of which are by far the most on the team. The tight end currently ranks third in receiving yards and fifth in receptions among all tight ends. Waller (hamstring) is listed as questionable on the final injury report.

The Jets have had mixed results against tight ends thus far. They have given up 331 receiving yards and 32 receptions to the position, with both marks ranking middle of the pack. However, the Jets have surrendered five receiving touchdowns to opposing tight ends, which leads the league. The last time they took the field, the Jets defense allowed Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert to catch five passes for 42 yards.

DL Dexter Lawrence

Similar to Waller, Lawrence also put together his best game of the season against Washington. The defensive lineman went into Week 7 with zero sacks on the season, although he had gotten close on numerous occasions. Well, Lawrence was finally able to get home as he led the charge on the pass rush against the Commanders, picking up two of the team's six sacks of Sam Howell. He also added a season-high four quarterback hits.

While last week's two sacks were his first of the season, Lawrence has racked up 29 total pressures through the first seven weeks, including a season-high eight this past Sunday. In his breakout, All-Pro campaign last year, Lawrence had a total of 63 pressures, and he is now on pace to actually beat last year's mark. Pro Football Focus currently has him ranked as the league's No. 2 interior defensive lineman.

Lawrence has a good opportunity to add to his season sack total this Sunday. The Jets have allowed 20 sacks through their first six games, which is tied for the fifth-most in the NFL. On their two-game winning streak, Jets quarterback Zach Wilson has been sacked a total of nine times, including at least four in each game.

ILB Micah McFadden

The Giants' defense has improved over the last few weeks, and the play of McFadden has been a big factor in that. The second-year inside linebacker recorded five total tackles, 0.5 sacks and two quarterback hits in Sunday's win. He also added two quarterback pressures on just eight blitzes, good for a 25.0 percent quarterback pressure rate, the highest mark on the team.

His performance earned him the highest grade from PFF of any linebacker in Week 7. This represented the second consecutive week McFadden received an elite grade from the analytics site, as he finished with seven tackles (three solo), an interception, a fumble recovery and a quarterback hit in the Week 6 loss to the Bills. McFadden and fellow inside linebacker Bobby Okereke have developed into a formidable duo in the middle of the defense. During the same two-game stretch, Okereke has totaled 22 tackles (15 solo), three passes defensed, two tackles for loss and a forced fumble to go with five quarterback pressures.

The Jets' best player on offense this season has been running back Breece Hall. Less than a year removed from a torn ACL, the second-year running back is averaging an incredible 6.5 yards per carry. Hall has totaled 426 yards and two touchdowns on just 66 carries in addition to 13 receptions for another 113 yards.

CB Deonte Banks

Banks had his first big splash play of the season last week with his first half interception of Sam Howell. However, the rookie cornerback has flown under the radar a little this year, as the 22-year-old has actually been having a great start to his NFL career. Through seven weeks, Banks has allowed a mere 4.2 yards per target, which ranks second among all cornerbacks with at least 20 targets, behind only Cleveland's Denzel Ward (3.8) according to Next Gen Stats.

But perhaps even more impressively, the Giants' first-round pick has surrendered a league-low -5.5 receptions over expected this season. This mark is the third-lowest of any rookie through Week 7 since 2018, according to NGS. His five pass breakups on the year ranks third on the team and is tied for the second-most among all rookie cornerbacks.

After Aaron Rodgers tore his Achilles early in the season opener, the keys to the offense have been turned over to Zach Wilson. The Jets rank 32nd with 159.5 passing yards per game, more than 12 yards fewer than any other team. Wilson has completed 60.4 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and five interceptions. The team's 6.0 yards per pass attempt ranks 28th.

View rare photos from the local rivalry between the Giants and Jets.

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