Everything you need to know about the Week 16 matchup between the New York Giants (3-11) and Washington Redskins (3-11):
DJ back under center. After missing the last two games with a high ankle sprain, Daniel Jones will return as the team's starting quarterback. Jones is leading all first-year players with 18 passing touchdowns, despite starting only 10 games. However, the number six overall pick also tops all rookies with 21 turnovers. With two games left, Jones knows exactly what he needs to work on before the season comes to an end.
"There's a number of things," Jones said. "Ball security is obviously the big thing and making sure that I'm doing my part in protecting the ball. Making sure as an offense we're protecting the ball. That way it gives us the best chance to win. That's the most important thing in these last two weeks, is to win games. My role in that, ball security plays a big part in that."
Injury Report. GIANTS- OUT: TE Rhett Ellison (concussion). REDSKINS- OUT: CB Quinton Dunbar (hamstring). DOUBTFUL: CB Fabian Moreau (hamstring). QUESTIONABLE: S Landon Collins (Achilles).
Young DBs stepping up. Over the last few weeks, several of the Giants' young defensive backs have given strong performances. Julian Love has played very well since stepping into the starting lineup for the injured Jabrill Peppers at safety, while Sam Beal had a solid outing last week when inserted into the lineup for Janoris Jenkins, who was released a week ago. Over the last four games, DeAndre Baker has the lowest completion percentage when targeted (26.3%) of any corner in the league, while earning the 6th-best coverage grade among all qualified CBs by Pro Football Focus.
"Every way you can imagine," defensive backs coach Everett Withers said when asked how Baker has improved since Week 1. "Preparation wise, maturity wise. I think just understanding how to be a pro. All of the things you learn as a young guy that just punches you in the face early, he's starting to understand. He's not there yet, not close. But he has gotten better as far as attention to detail, fundamentals and those things."
Two top rookie WRs face off. Sunday's matchup features two of the top rookie receivers in Darius Slayton and Terry McLaurin. Slayton leads all first-year players with eight receiving touchdowns, while McLaurin ranks second in receptions (51) and receiving yards (833) and is tied for second in touchdowns (seven). Both receivers earned their way onto PFF's list of the top 10 highest-graded rookies through Week 15, an impressive feat considering where they were selected in April's draft (Slayton: no. 171, McLaurin: no. 76).
Zeitler returns. Kevin Zeitler had been an iron man on the offensive line this season, starting in every game while playing nearly every snap prior to injuring his ankle against the Eagles. After missing last week's game, the talented right guard is set to return to the starting lineup, as he was not listed on the final injury report after practicing in full Friday. The 29-year-old guard was ranked the 17th-best offensive lineman in the league this week by PFF. His return will be a welcome addition to an offensive line that allowed just one sack and one QB hit last week.
Can Saquon keep it rolling? Saquon Barkley is coming off his most well-rounded game of the season. The second-year back ran the ball 24 times for 112 yards (4.7 yards per carry) and two touchdowns and added four receptions for 31 yards last week against the Dolphins. It was his first 100-yard rushing performance since Week 2 and his first time finding the end zone since Week 8. Barkley will look to continue his success this week. The Redskins rank 28th in the NFL with 136.4 rushing yards allowed per game. Green Bay's Aaron Jones (16 carries for 134 yards, 8.4 YPC) and Philly's Miles Sanders (19 carries for 122 yards, 6.4 YPC) have had productive days against the 'Skins over the last two weeks. Barkley has not had back to back 100-yard games since the first two games of the season.
"The O-line did a great job creating holes and stopping penetration and having movement," Barkley said of last week's effort. "Coaches made great calls, put me in the right spots, and I got some one on ones. Obviously, you don't win them all, but I won more than I lost. I don't think we had one run over 12 yards, so it was more of just grind and pound and efficient gain."
Smith gets another start. With Evan Engram on injured reserve and Rhett Ellison out for the fifth straight week, Kaden Smith will once again get the start at tight end. The rookie has played well since being inserted into the starting lineup, with 16 receptions for 134 yards and a touchdown over the last four games.
"I think he's developed extremely well," coach Pat Shurmur said. "I think I spoke about this a few weeks ago, but he was a guy that we liked quite a bit coming out of the draft. We were very fortunate that he was available. Since he's been here, he's really made steady improvements. He's had production in the passing game, he's sort of a tough, gritty guy that takes his blocking seriously, and he has a good feel for things. We've liked the development to this point."
Slowing AP down. Adrian Peterson made history during Washington's loss to the Eagles last week. The veteran running back tied Walter Payton for fourth in rushing touchdowns (110) while eclipsing Curtis Martin for fifth on the NFL's all-time rushing list (14,102). Peterson turns 35 in a couple of months, but you wouldn't know it by the way the 13-year pro is running this season. Peterson is averaging 4.9 yards per carry over his last three games and has scored a touchdown in each of those outings.
"They have Adrian Peterson, who I worked with, who's running as hard and as physical and as nasty as he's ever run," Shurmur said.
A look at the playmakers for the Redskins as the Giants prep for Week 16.
Success on third down. Converting on third down has been a struggle for the Giants throughout the season. However, the offense was able to convert 5-of-11 attempts against Miami last week and will look to continue that success. The Redskins rank 31st in the league in third down defense, allowing opponents to convert at a 48.0% rate.
Washington's third down struggles carry over to the offensive side of the ball as well, as they enter this game ranked last with a 28.1% success rate on third down. The Giants, on the other hand, rank 17th with a 39.6% rate defensively on third down. If the Giants can continue these third down trends, they should be able to control the time of possession, which would go a long way in helping them secure the victory.
First full look at Haskins. Dwayne Haskins made his NFL debut against the Giants back in Week 4 when he was thrown into the game at halftime after not getting a full week of practice with the first team offense. The number 15 overall pick in the draft has started the last six games. Sunday will mark the first time that Haskins and Jones face off as starting quarterbacks.
"It's hard to compare because he just got thrown in there," Shurmur said about the difference between Haskins now and the first time the two teams met. "Now, we've had a chance to see him play, and that's why, like I said, it's a credit to him. He's made really good improvements and he's had a real positive impact on their offense. They've got three young receivers (Terry McLaurin, Kelvin Harmon, Steven Sims Jr.) that he's dealing the ball to extremely well… They're doing a lot of good things on offense."
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