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5 storylines to follow in Giants vs. Patriots


The New York Giants will look to pick up their second consecutive win when they welcome the New England Patriots to MetLife Stadium in Week 12.

Last week, the Giants went into Washington and completed the season sweep of the Commanders by a score of 31-19, which moved the Giants to 3-8.

Meanwhile, the Patriots are fresh off their bye, but the last time they took the field was in Germany, where they lost their third consecutive game, this time to the Colts.

Here are five storylines to follow in the Week 12 matchup.

1. Ride the momentum

The Giants put together their most complete performance this past weekend against the Commanders. The offense scored 24 points, their second-highest point total of the season, as both the run game and aerial attack got going. The defense forced a season-high five turnovers while continuing its success on third down, and special teams added a takeaway of their own while connecting on all five kicks (one field goal, five extra points).

"It's always good to win, yeah," head coach Brian Daboll said after the win. "So, preparation normal, practicing normal, I know you asked about that the other day. To be able to put it together, you know defense, special teams, we had six turnovers, capitalized on a few of those. Hit some good, big plays. Good play designs. I thought finishing the game we made it probably tougher than we had to, but it was good to get a win."

The Giants will look to ride the momentum of last week's win on Sunday as they face off against the Patriots. New England has endured their own struggles this season as they enter this matchup with a 2-8 record. The Patriots have lost three consecutive games, their second three-game losing streak of the season, as they've had trouble moving the ball down the field. However, head coach Bill Belichick is one of the best in the business coming off a bye week with a record of 16-7 since taking over as the coach of the Patriots.

View photos from the Quest Diagnostics Training Center as the Giants gear up for the Patriots.

2. DeVito gets rolling

The offense enjoyed one of its best performances of the season in Washington, due largely to the play of Tommy DeVito. The undrafted rookie quarterback completed nearly 70 percent of his passes for 246 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He made history in Week 11 as his 137.7 passer rating was the highest by a rookie free agent quarterback with 15+ attempts in the common draft era (since 1967). Additionally, he became the first undrafted rookie quarterback to throw five touchdown passes in his first two starts since 1967. DeVito's numbers were even more impressive on third down, as he completed seven of eight passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns, earning a perfect passer rating of 158.3.

"He did a good job of picking up our offense," Daboll said about what he's seen from DeVito since the rookie arrived with the team. "I think he operates well in the pocket, he's got quick feet, he throws with anticipation and timing and he's instinctive. He does a good job of seeing defenders and feeling defenses. I don't think he's an overprocessor, an overthinker. He can make a variety of the throws and he was a good young player to try to work with and develop and hopefully that we spend a year with him and he gets a little bit better so that maybe he can have something the following year, but things have sped up for him.

"I know he's had this opportunity and look, there's plenty of things that he knows he needs to work on, and we need to work on with him that we can help him, but he's got the right mindset, the right approach. He's done a good job since he's been here."

DeVito wasn't the only player on the offense to step up when the unit needed it most. Running back Saquon Barkley totaled minus-2 rushing yards in the final minute of the third quarter. But in the final 16 minutes of the game, Barkley gained an impressive 85 yards on just eight carries, good for an average of 10.6 yards per attempt. He also caught his second touchdown pass of the game in the fourth quarter as he finished with four receptions for 57 yards and the two scores.

"It felt great," Barkley said about his production in the passing game. "Especially the first one, which is a play that I've been asking for a long time. So, when it got called, in my mind I was like, 'I can't mess this one up'. It feels good to get into the endzone twice and feels good to get a win. Obviously, just being critical of myself. This last time I could've done better, especially my pass protection. Gonna go back, watch film and get ready for next week."

3. Kayvon, Dex leading the pass rush

Kayvon Thibodeaux continued his breakout season and his dominance over the Commanders this past Sunday. The second-year outside linebacker recorded two sacks and eight total pressures of quarterback Sam Howell. Thibodeaux now has 10.5 sacks on the season as he became the first player to reach double-digit sacks in a Wink Martindale-led defense.

He now has 14.5 sacks in his first 25 career games, which marks the most by a Giants player since sacks became an official statistic in 1982. Thibodeaux just barely beat Jason Pierre-Paul, who had 14.0 sacks through 25 games. Of his 14.5 sacks, 5.5 have come against the Commanders, including 3.5 this season.

"It's a divisional opponent, so we all knew what was on the line," said Thibodeaux. "It's a game that mattered, I'm happy we got the win."

Finishing right behind Thibodeaux in pressures was Dexter Lawrence, who picked up seven against Washington. The All-Pro defensive lineman recorded his fourth sack of the season while increasing his pressure total to 53. He now sits just 10 behind his career-mark of 63 pressures last year with six games remaining. Heading into Week 12, Lawrence is not only Pro Football Focus' highest-ranked interior defensive lineman, but he is also one of the website's highest-ranked players overall.

Lawrence did not practice on Wednesday due to a hamstring injury.

4. Okereke anchoring the defense

It's hard to accurately quantify the impact the addition of Bobby Okereke has had on the defense this season. The veteran linebacker signed with the team back in March following four seasons with the Colts. The 27-year-old was voted a team captain in his first season with the Giants, and 11 weeks in, it is easy to see why.

Okereke is far and away the team's leading tackler with 105 total tackles on the season. He has recorded double digit tackles in six games, and is currently tied with Seattle's Bobby Wagner for the fifth-most tackles in the NFL. Okereke has already set new career-highs with nine tackles for loss and four forced fumbles, two of which came in last week's win over Washington. As if all of that wasn't enough, Okereke is also one of PFF's highest-ranked linebackers in coverage this year.

"Yeah, it's been a tough stretch, but we have that next play mentality, next game mentality," Okereke said following the Week 11 win. "It's just a great opportunity for us to go out and get a division win, which we did. I thought we all rallied around Tommy. He did a great job showing leadership and we came out with the win."

Okereke was a non-participant in the first practice of the week Wednesday as he tends to rib and hip injuries.

The Giants tallied six takeaways against the Commanders, five of which came from the defense. Isaiah Simmons, Okereke's fellow linebacker, had the final takeaway of the game when he intercepted Howell and returned it 54 yards for the game-sealing touchdown in the final minute.

5. Who starts at QB for Patriots?

Coming off their bye, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has not yet announced who will start at quarterback against the Giants. Mac Jones has started the first 10 games of the season but has not found a ton of success. The third-year quarterback has completed 65.4 percent of his passes for 2,031 yards, 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for a passer rating of 80.2. Backup Bailey Zappe has appeared in three games in relief this season and has gone just 10 of 25 for 104 yards and an interception. The Patriots also have Will Grier, who has yet to play in a game for the Patriots, on the active roster along with rookie Malik Cunningham on the practice squad. The Patriots currently rank 31st in points and 26th in yards this season.

New England has a two-headed rushing attack that was just beginning to get going prior to the bye, led by the talented Rhamondre Stevenson. The third-year running back has carried the ball 126 times for 482 yards (3.8 avg.) and three touchdowns this year while adding 32 receptions for 229 yards. Joining Stevenson in the backfield is someone the Giants are plenty familiar with – Ezekiel Elliott. The former Cowboy has gained 331 yards on 86 rush attempts (3.8 avg.) and has found the end zone twice. After the Patriots failed to reach the 100-yard rushing mark in five consecutive weeks, the two running backs have combined for 246 rushing yards, 12 receptions and 105 receiving yards in their last two outings.

The Patriots lost their top receiver, Kendrick Bourne, to a torn ACL last month. This has paved the way for rookie Demario Douglas to step up as the top option in the passing game. The 22-year-old has five or more receptions in three straight games, and caught a season-high six passes for 84 yards against the Colts in Week 10. Tight ends Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki have also played large roles in the offense, totaling 51 receptions for 480 yards and four touchdowns between the two.

Moving over to the defense, veteran linebacker Matt Judon leads the way with four sacks on the season, while linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley and defensive lineman Christian Barmore are right behind him with three apiece.

In the secondary, safety Kyle Dugger has recorded two interceptions and four passes defensed. Former Giant Jabrill Peppers leads the defense with six pass breakups to go with one interception, one forced fumble and four tackles for loss.

New England's defense comes into Week 12 ranking 23rd in points and 16th in yards allowed. The pass defense ranks 18th in passing yards and 10th in passing touchdowns surrendered, while the run defense ranks 9th in yards allowed. The defense's 3.4 rushing yards per attempt is the second-lowest in the NFL. The unit also has the league's seventh-best red zone defense (45.5 percent).

Rare photos from the storied history between the New York Giants and New England Patriots.


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