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Players to Watch: DJ, receivers coming on strong


The Giants face off against the Indianapolis Colts in a pivotal Week 17 matchup on New Year's Day.

If the Giants win one of their final two games, they will secure their first playoff berth since 2016. If they lose both contests, they can still make the postseason with some help. Here are all of the ways the Giants can clinch a playoff spot this weekend:

  1. NYG win OR
  2. NYG tie + SEA loss or tie + WAS loss or tie OR
  3. NYG tie + SEA loss or tie + DET loss or tie OR
  4. NYG tie + WAS loss or tie + DET loss or tie + GB loss or tie OR
  5. SEA loss + WAS loss OR
  6. SEA loss + DET loss + GB loss or tie OR
  7. WAS loss + DET loss + GB loss

The Colts have a short week as they fell to the Los Angeles Chargers, 20-3, on Monday Night Football. Veteran Nick Foles started at quarterback for the first time this season.

Here are five players to keep an eye on in Sunday's game:

QB Daniel Jones

Daniel Jones put together one of his strongest performances of the season against the Vikings on Christmas Eve. The fourth-year quarterback completed a career-high 30 pass attempts with a completion percentage of 71.4, marking the sixth time he's topped the 70 percent mark this season. Jones threw for 334 yards, seven shy of his season-high, with one touchdown and one interception for a passer rating of 92.8. He added four carries for 34 yards (8.5 avg.).

Despite throwing the interception, Jones is still having by far his best season when it comes to protecting the ball. Through 15 games, which is a new career-best, the 25-year-old has a 13-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio with a 1.1 interception percentage, the latter of which is the top mark in the NFL. Jones' 298 completions, 66.5 completion percentage, 3,028 passing yards, five interceptions and 90.7 passer rating are each the best of his young career. He is one of only three quarterbacks in the NFL with 3,000+ pass yards, 500+ rush yards & 5+ rush touchdowns this season.

Although the Colts' defense has seen mixed results this season, their pass defense has been the strength of the unit. Indianapolis ranks 11th in both passing yards and touchdowns allowed on the season, but have struggled when it comes to interceptions as their eight picks are tied for 26th. Chargers QB Justin Herbert threw for 235 yards and one interception on Monday, but completed 77.4 percent of his passes (24 of 31).

"I think it's a great opportunity for us," Jones said on Wednesday. "It's a good opponent coming in and we've got a chance to play our best game and do what we've got to do. We're excited for it, an opportunity to get in front of the home fans and another opportunity to go play a good game…

"They're a good group on defense. They're consistent, they do what they're supposed to do, they're in the right spots. Don't blow assignments much or give you a lot of that. I think they try to prevent the big plays and they do a good job with that. They've got a lot of good players, a lot of talented players, some veterans in some key spots. We'll have to be ready. We've got a good game plan and we'll need to be prepared on Sunday."

WR Isaiah Hodgins

Isaiah Hodgins had a career day against the Vikings last week. The second-year wide receiver matched Saquon Barkley and Richie James with a team-high eight receptions, which went for 89 yards and a touchdown, with his longest reception going for 29 yards. It marked the third-time Hodgins has caught a touchdown pass from Jones in the last four games. In just seven games with the Giants, Hodgins has registered 29 receptions for 309 yards and three touchdowns, with his three receiving scores matching James for the most on the team.

"I think he's smart, tough, dependable," Daboll said about Hodgins. "He works extremely hard. In between periods, he's usually throwing there with Daniel on a variety of routes, or they're talking about things that we've installed and make sure that he sees it through the eyes of a quarterback. So, he's done a good job for us since he's been here."

The Colts have one of the league's top shutdown cornerbacks in Stephon Gilmore. The veteran has recorded two interceptions and 11 passes defensed this season, along with a career-best 63 total tackles. On Monday Night Football, Chargers WR Mike Williams was limited to four receptions for 76 yards.

WR Darius Slayton

After a two-game stretch that saw him gain just 65 total receiving yards, Darius Slayton got back on track with a solid outing against the Vikings. The fourth-year wide receiver caught four passes for 79 yards (19.8 avg.), including a long of 32. Slayton has at least one reception of 20+ yards in nine of the past 11 games.

Slayton has been the team's leading receiver this season, totaling 710 receiving yards on 44 receptions. His 16.1 yards per reception is also the most on the team, as Slayton has served as Jones' most reliable deep threat this season. The 25-year-old has been on the receiving end of some of Jones' longest receptions this year, including three that went for more than 40 yards. Mike Williams had a long reception of 26 yards last week, while Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn had a 63-yard reception against the Colts in Week 15.

"All of those guys who have come in have done a really good job," Jones said about the team's current group of wide receivers. "They're all guys who work really hard, who understand what we're trying to do and can do it and are willing to put in the work to get on the same page to build the chemistry and do what we need them to do. Whoever it is that's stepped up I think has done a great job and they deserve a lot of credit."

View rare photos of the all-time history between the New York Giants and Indianapolis Colts.

DL Dexter Lawrence

Dexter Lawrence has led the way for the defensive line this season. The talented 25-year-old added to his career-high with his 25th quarterback hit of the season last week in Minnesota. Lawrence has registered at least one quarterback hit in each of the past eight games, totaling 15 in that span with 2.5 sacks. He also registered seven total pressures on Vikings QB Kirk Cousins, along with three stops in the run game.

The Colts have struggled to protect the quarterback this season, regardless of who's under center. In Monday night's loss, Indy's offensive line surrendered seven sacks of Nick Foles, bringing their season total to 56 - only the Denver Broncos have allowed more (57). The Giants' first-time Pro Bowler will look to add to his team-high 6.5 sacks on the season.

DL Leonard Williams

Leonard Williams was right there with Lawrence last weekend as he finished the game with five total pressures, including a sack, and two run stops. Williams has registered at least one quarterback hit in seven of his past eight games, and both he and Lawrence have each had a game with five quarterback hits.

The Colts have been a run-first offense all season, even with starting running back Jonathan Taylor on injured reserve. In their first game without Taylor, Indianapolis ran the ball a whopping 43 times against the Vikings. They had only 14 rushes on Monday night, but a big reason for that was likely due to the Chargers jumping out to an early lead. Williams has played a big role up front this season, and with Azeez Ojulari's status for Sunday up in the air, the defense will need its two starting linemen to step up in Week 17.


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