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10 things to watch in Giants vs. Saints

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THREE-GAME WINNING STREAK

After losing to the Cowboys in Week 10, the Giants fell to 2-8 on the season as their top two quarterbacks sat on injured reserve. Despite the outlook on the season, the Giants never gave up. Since then, they have won three consecutive games, which has catapulted the Giants back into the playoff race.

"One year has nothing to do with the next," coach Brian Daboll told the media Tuesday. "One game has nothing to do with the next. This is a tough league for everybody. You have to be able to handle the ups and you have to be able to handle the downs. You don't accept the downs, I'll tell you that. There's a lot of things that you have to do better to try to get yourself out of a rut. That's everybody, that starts with me. You don't get too high when things are going and you're winning a few games. Because this league is a humbling league. I've said it I don't know how many times, it's a very humbling league.

"But what I do appreciate is the players and the coaches sticking together, working through things, having a strong commitment to improve, being good teammates. Those are all important things for all of us, regardless of what position you're at, to be able to do those things. I've got a lot of appreciation for our team and for our people in our building. It's never going to be easy. As good as it is one week, it could be as bad the next week. So, got to keep the focus where it needs to be. The only thing you could do, which is what we try to do every week, is to improve and play our best game for that following Sunday or Monday or whatever it is. It doesn't always happen, that's for sure, but it doesn't mean you don't try to make sure it does."

The road to the playoffs will not be easy. All four remaining games are against NFC teams fighting for their own playoff hopes. The Saints are contending for both the NFC South title and a Wild Card spot, while the Rams are another one of the five teams currently sitting at 6-7. Then of course, the Eagles are still in contention for both the NFC East crown and the No. 1 seed in the conference. If the Giants want to make a serious playoff push, they will have to play their best football of the season in these final few weeks.

ALL-TIME SERIES

The New York Giants head back onto the road to visit the New Orleans Saints in the Caesars Superdome on Sunday, Dec. 17. Kickoff is set for 1:00 p.m. ET on FOX. Sunday's game marks the 32nd regular-season meeting between the Giants and Saints.

The Giants hold a 17-14 advantage in the series. The Giants and Saints have alternated victories in their last six meetings, with the Giants winning in 2012, 2016 and 2021 and New Orleans winning in 2011, 2015 and 2018. The teams last faced off on Oct. 3, 2021, when the Giants defeated the Saints in overtime, 27-21, to break their six-game losing streak in New Orleans that dated back to 1994.

View photos of the Giants on the practice field ahead of the Week 15 matchup against the New Orleans Saints.

INJURY REPORT

Giants

Doubtful: T Evan Neal (ankle)

Questionable: DL Dexter Lawrence (hamstring), OL Justin Pugh (calf), TE Darren Waller (hamstring)

Saints

Out: DE Isaiah Foskey (quadricep), RB Kendre Miller (ankle), DE Payton Turner (toe)

Questionable: WR Chris Olave (ankle), T Ryan Ramczyk (knee), RB Jamaal Williams (groin)

DeVITOMONIUM

Tommy DeVito has officially taken over the NFL landscape. What started out as sidebars about an NFL quarterback living at home with his parents has turned into a craze sweeping the country. While being thrust into the national spotlight might too much for some rookies to shoulder, it is clear that DeVito can handle the pressure.

Playing in primetime for the first time, DeVito put on a show for the country this past Monday. The rookie completed 81 percent of his passes for 158 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions for a passer rating of 113.9. He also added 71 yards on 10 carries (7.1 avg.) on the ground as he became the first starter in league history to complete at least 80% of his passes, rush for 70+ yards, commit no turnovers, and take no sacks in a game. DeVito completed 10 of 11 passes (91 percent) in the second half as the led the Giants to a comeback victory.

"He made good decisions, took care of the ball, used him in the run game," Daboll said after the game. "Just keep developing him. He's improving. Still got stuff to work on, but like I said two or three times last week, I think he's a young player that's doing the right things and making the most of his opportunity. He earned the right to play today, and he earned the right to play the next week. The kid's done a good job."

Since DeVito took over as the starting quarterback, the Giants have gone 3-1. The 25-year-old has thrown seven touchdowns to just one interception during that stretch, and has played especially well during the team's win streak. In those three games, DeVito has finished with a 100+ passer rating in every one. He became the first undrafted rookie quarterback since the 1970 merger to win three starts in a season, and the first Giants rookie quarterback to win three consecutive starts since Phil Simms in 1979.

"He's done everything we've asked him to do since he's been here whether it's OTAs, work, leading up to training camp, he knows what he's supposed to do," the head coach said about DeVito. "He knows he's got stuff to work on, but I think he sees the game pretty well, he sees coverages, he's usually one of those guys – not usually, he is one of those guys, for a young player, particularly at that position, which isn't always the case, but when he comes off to the sideline and you are asking him questions about why he did what he did, what he saw, you watch the tape the following day and it's like 'yep, that's exactly what happened.' So, he's continuing to improve and that's what we will try to do this week."

Sunday's matchup will be a tough one for DeVito, as the Saints enter this matchup with the league's seventh-best passing defense. New Orleans' defense has 14 interceptions on the year, the third-most in the NFL. They are averaging just 157.3 passing yards per game over their last three games against the Panthers, Lions and Falcons.

DEFENSE FORCING TAKEAWAYS

DeVito has earned a ton of praise for his performance since taking over as the starting quarterback, and rightfully so. But the rookie's rise in popularity has seemingly overshadowed the play of the defense over the last few weeks. Make no mistake, the defense has been nothing short of dominant during the team's three-game win streak.

The defense is averaging 16.0 points and 337.7 yards allowed per game since Week 11. More importantly, the unit has racked up an impressive 12 turnovers during that span. The 12 turnovers over the last four weeks are the most in the NFL, despite the fact that the Giants had a bye in Week 13. Going back one week further, the Giants have totaled 14 turnovers in their last four games. The unit now has 22 takeaways on the season, tied for the fifth-most in the NFL, despite not having a single one in their first four games.

"We are doing a good job of running to the ball, make opportunities when they have opportunities to be made," Daboll said about the defense's recent surge. "It's tied in -- front and coverage -- it's tied in well on the interceptions but rallying to the ball, population, and getting hands on the ball, that's important. So, effort is a lot of it. Again, coverage and front tie together, looks. We need to try to keep doing this."

The Saints' offense has been middle of the pack this year, ranking 15th in points and 13th in yards. New Orleans did not need to do much in last week's win over Carolina, totaling just 207 yards of offense and 21 points in the victory (they also scored a touchdown on a blocked punt). In the two games prior to Week 14, the Saints averaged 21.5 points and 403 yards of offense. Their 17 turnovers are tied for the 17th-most in the league.

WALLER DESIGNATED TO RETURN

The Giants received some positive news early Thursday as tight end Darren Waller was designated to return to practice.

Just one day earlier, head coach Brian Daboll told the media that the veteran tight end, who was placed on injured reserve after suffering a hamstring injury against the Jets in Week 8, was "making progress" and "getting closer" to a return. Well, the 31-year-old took a big step in the right direction Thursday by returning to practice.

Waller still remains on injured reserve, and the Giants now have 21 days to activate him to the active roster. The tight end is hopeful he can suit up this Sunday in New Orleans, although his status for Week 15 remains unclear. He was listed as questionable on the final injury report.

"Definitely what I want to do, and what I've been used to doing, is like 70-80 snaps a game," Waller said Wednesday when asked what kind of workload he feels he can handle. "Coming out the first week, probably not that, but as far as a number that's solid that can contribute in whatever ways he (Daboll) needs me to contribute but also be fresh. Assuming that's realistic, I plan on contributing given the opportunity."

Waller has registered 36 receptions for 384 yards and a touchdown in eight games.

KAYVON 'DOESN'T ALLOW HIMSELF TO HAVE A CEILING'

Kayvon Thibodeaux picked up a half-sack against the Packers Monday night, along with eight total tackles and his third forced fumble of the season. It marked the second straight game with a forced fumble for the second-year outside linebacker and the third consecutive game with at least a half-sack. Dating back to the first month of the season, Thibodeaux has recorded at least a half-sack in eight of the past 11 games and is now up to 11.5 on the year. Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale had nothing but high praise for the young edge rusher enjoying a breakout sophomore campaign.

"We've talked about it before, and I've thought about it even more. I said that the guy has no ceiling," Martindale told reporters Thursday. "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."

BANKS 'GROWING EVERY WEEK'

Throughout his rookie season, Deonte Banks has been matched up against some of the league's top wide receivers. Despite cornerback being considered by many to be one of the toughest positions to play as a rookie, Banks has been up for the challenge. The 22-year-old led the team with a personal-best 12 total tackles to go with one tackle for loss and an impressive pass breakup to save a touchdown.

"I thought it was awesome," Martindale said about Banks preventing a deep touchdown pass. "He is just growing and growing and growing every week as a corner and starting to see things faster than what he has seen before. You're starting to see that in his play. I love the fact that he had 12 tackles, because I challenged him all week on making some tackles. I said, 'You're going to keep getting tested out there until you start tackling people.' So, I thought he stepped up and played really well."

Banks is now up to 11 passes defensed on the year, good for the second-most among all rookie cornerbacks, to go with two interceptions and 55 total tackles (44 solo).

PLAYMAKERS STEPPING UP

The Giants saw several different playmakers step up in Monday's win over the Packers, starting with running back Saquon Barkley. The talented back carried the ball 20 times for 86 yards (4.3 avg.) and two touchdowns, adding three receptions for 15 yards. It was his fifth time reaching 100 yards from scrimmage in his last seven games, while the 23 total touches were his most since Week 8. It wasn't a perfect outing for Barkley, as he did lose a key fumble late in the game which opened the door for the Packers. But the offense got the ball back and stormed down the field to set up Randy Bullock's game-winning field goal as time expired.

"I mean, the emotions were definitely high, and the vibes were great," Barkley said about the feeling on the sideline in the last few minutes of the game. "I wouldn't really say the emotions were low at all after I fumbled. It was more myself, getting in my head, but still at the same time, knowing that an NFL football game and if our defense doesn't get the stop, we've still got to find a way to win the game. So, that happened quick. My teammates came up to me and told me that they've got my back, and we're going to find a way to win this game, and we did that."

Barkley finished second on the team in yards from scrimmage as wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson had his best game of the season. The second-year receiver led the way with 79 yards on six receptions along with 36 yards on two rush attempts, finishing with a career-best 115 total yards of offense. Robinson made numerous key catches, including the big 32-yard catch and run on the final drive to set up the game-winning field goal.

"We talked last week a little bit about Wan'Dale and still coming back from a tougher injury for a perimeter receiver and a player that uses his quickness and speed as his strength," Daboll told reporters Tuesday. "But he's steadily gotten better, I'd say physically, which improves your confidence. In the last few weeks, you can really see explosive quickness, he ran some really good routes again, was open quite a bit. Had the big play in the run, played with toughness, I'd say played competitively. For a smaller guy, too, he was mixing it up pretty good."

Isaiah Hodgins, Darius Slayton, Jalin Hyatt and Daniel Bellinger caught two passes apiece against the Packers, including Hodgins' impressive eight-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter. Additionally, the Giants finished with a season-high 209 yards on the ground, with Barkley (86), DeVito (71), Robinson (36) and Matt Breida (16) each contributing to the total.

SCOUTING THE SAINTS

Let's start with the Saints' offense, which ranks 15th in points and 13th in yards on the season. The unit is converting on 37.5 percent of its third down attempts, good for the 19th-best mark in the league, while boasting the NFL's 22nd-best red zone offense (50.0 percent).

Quarterback Derek Carr has made all 13 starts for the Saints, completing 66.4 percent of his passes for 2,880 yards, 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions, and has earned a passer rating of 89.4. He has also taken 25 sacks.

After serving a three-game suspension to start the season, running back Alvin Kamara has played in every game since. The veteran back has gained 564 yards on 145 carries (3.9 avg.) to go with five touchdowns, while also ranking second on the team with 63 receptions. He has taken those receptions for 402 yards and one touchdown.

New Orleans' leading receiver is Chris Olave. The talented, second-year wide receiver has pulled in 72 passes for 918 yards and four touchdowns on a whopping 116 targets. Kamara's 73 targets are the second-most behind Olave. It also appears as if the Saints could be getting wide receiver Rashid Shaheed back this week. Shaheed has missed the last two games with a thigh injury, but has been a limited participant at practice this week.

Of course, you can't talk about the Saints without mentioning Taysom Hill. The quarterback/tight end/wide receiver/running back has done a little bit of everything this season. He has completed five of eight passes for 72 yards and a touchdown, in addition to carrying the ball 70 times for 346 yards (4.9 avg.) and four rushing touchdowns, the second-most on the team. Hill has also contributed as a receiver, catching 26 passes for 229 yards and an additional score.

Moving over to the defense, New Orleans ranks 10th in points and 13th in yards allowed. The unit has forced 22 turnovers, tied with the Giants for the fifth-most in the NFL, while their 14 interceptions are the third-most. The Saints have the league's ninth-best third down defense (36.9 percent) and 13th-ranked red zone defense (52.6 percent).

Defensive end Carl Granderson leads the way with 6.5 sacks, while linebacker Demario Davis is right behind him with 5.5.

New Orleans sports a talented secondary, led by cornerback Paulson Adebo and his four interceptions and 14 passes defensed. Safety Tyrann Mathieu has three interceptions and seven passes defensed, while safety Marcus Maye has added two interceptions himself. Former Giants cornerback Isaac Yiadom has put together his best season in the NFL, totaling 10 pass breakups while locking down one of the outside cornerback spots. Of course, then there is the always dangerous Marshon Lattimore, who is enjoying yet another solid season.

View rare photos from the all-time series between the New York Giants and New Orleans Saints.

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