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Efficient Giants leery of streaking Lions

Nov 13, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) runs with the ball against the Houston Texans during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Life hasn’t been this good this late in the season for the New York Giants since 2016, when they finished 11-5.

New York (7-2) holds what would be a playoff position in the NFC through Week 10 and came out of its bye week by using a familiar formula for success to smack the Houston Texans.

The Giants relied on Saquon Barkley’s legs and Daniel Jones’ savvy, while the defense continued to limit big plays.

New York churned out its seventh single-digit victory against Houston and now hosts the suddenly revived Detroit Lions (3-6) on Sunday.

Barkley, the league’s leading rusher at 931 yards, toted the ball a whopping 35 times for 152 yards against the Texans and capitalized on the NFL’s worst run defense.

Jones hasn’t passed for more than 217 yards in any game this season but he’s made smart decisions and uses his mobility when necessary. He hasn’t thrown an interception in six games, which is a big reason why the Giants are breathing down the necks of the Philadelphia Eagles (8-1) for the NFC East lead.

Darius Slayton is emerging as the top wideout. He caught a 54-yard touchdown pass against the Texans and has 11 receptions over the past three games.

The defense gave up a season-high 27 points to Seattle just before the bye week and allowed 387 yards to Houston but produced two turnovers and four sacks in the 24-16 victory.

The Giants have the NFL’s second-ranked defense in the red zone, allowing touchdowns just 38.2 percent of the time.

“They execute well. It’s not very complicated in terms of if you do your job, you give yourself a chance to make a play or execute a particular (play),” head coach Brian Daboll said. “Whether it’s offense, defense — whatever it may be — those guys do a good job each week of honing in on the game plan. Coaches do a good job of installing the game plan, and at the end of the day, the players got to make the plays down there.”

Despite its record, Detroit is quite capable of chunk plays. The offense has produced 42 plays of 20 or more yards, fourth-most in the league.

“They create explosive plays,” Daboll said. “The other thing they’re really good at is down in the red zone, finishing drives. It’s a team effort every week of how you need to play a game. But they’re an explosive team — no question about it.”

The Lions did something in Chicago that they hadn’t accomplished in 29 years. They rallied last week from a 24-10 deficit to pull out a 31-30 victory, the franchise’s first win after trailing by 14 or more points entering the fourth quarter since 1993.

Detroit snapped a five-game losing streak the previous week by edging Green Bay 15-9.

Now, the Lions will try to accomplish something they haven’t done since 2017 — win three consecutive games.

“If you really want to become a truly competitive, good team, you have to stack some wins together,” second-year head coach Dan Campbell said. “All the good ones do.”

Campbell’s team will need to find ways to limit Barkley, as well as Jones, on the ground. Jones has rushed for 387 yards and three touchdowns and Detroit’s defense has struggled against mobile quarterbacks. Bears quarterback Justin Fields rushed for 147 yards and two touchdowns last week.

“They’re running the ball well,” Campbell said of the Giants, who average 4.8 yards per carry. “Most of it is Barkley. That’s where the explosive plays are coming from and that’s helping the quarterback play well, too. They’re playing good football right now. They’re very efficient.”

The Lions’ offense has been much more efficient over the past three games, turning the ball over just once.

Center Frank Ragnow (foot), receiver Josh Reynolds (back) and running back Jamaal Williams (illness) were among the Lions who didn’t practice on Wednesday. Tight end Daniel Bellinger (eye) and linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux (illness) sat out the Giants’ practice.

–Field Level Media