Saquon Barkley prepares for running back duel with Texans’ Dameon Pierce


EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ — The Giants’ offensive force will have an opportunity to attack the Houston Texans’ key defensive weakness when the teams meet Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

Can the home team take advantage and win Game 7, or will the 1-6-1 Texans find a way to stop Saquon Barkley and get a surprise result?

The Giants have the fifth-largest rushing offense in the NFL, averaging 161.5 yards per game. Barkley is third in the league in rushing yards (779) and yards per game (97.4).

Houston’s defense that will try to stop him didn’t do as well. The Texans rank 32nd and last in the NFL in rush defense, giving up 180.6 yards per game. That’s 32 more yards per game than the next-worst team, the Detroit Lions (who the Giants will host next week).

“It doesn’t mean anything,” Barkley said. “I don’t really understand that – the numbers. Obviously, statistically their rush defense isn’t up there. It’s not the highest. Seattle, when we played Seattle, their defense against the They did a pretty good job planning the game and planning the run (now the Giants at 78 rushing yards, a season-low).

“Every week it’s a new challenge. It’s the NFL; there are a lot of good players there. They have a talented team – a great coach. A great plan. You have to take it – take it every week (like) a new opportunity and a new challenge to improve. That’s the main goal.

The Texans have allowed the two highest rushing totals in the NFL this season: 314 against Tennessee on Oct. 30 (when Derrick Henry rushed for 219 yards) and 281 yards at Chicago on Sept. 25. The third game on this list is the Bears gave up 262 rushing yards on Oct. 2 to the Giants and Barkley, who rushed for 146 yards.

Defensive tackle Meliek Collins – who occupies what coach Lovie Smith calls “the most important position” in defense – has missed the last two games with a chest injury. It’s no coincidence that the Raiders, Titans and Eagles rushed for a total of 621 yards. Collins is listed as questionable for Sunday.

Those numbers might indicate the Giants have the advantage, but you’ll never convince coach Brian Daboll of that.

“I think every time you look at the stats and where everyone is, you just think, ‘Boy, this team should run, this team is having a hard time stopping it,'” Daboll said. “Every week you try to improve – I’ll speak on behalf of our team – on things that we don’t do as well. And you anticipate that from all the other teams. There will be extra guys in the We’re going to have to do a good job of blocking them, blocking the stuff they’re doing, which is also creating problems.

“I know they gave up big ones. Henry had some big ones (41, 30 and 29 yard runs). Henry had three guys miss in the hole. He could have been tackled for a two yard gain . , it’s going 40 yards. So running the ball well. Making people miss space, managing their movement – that they move around a lot. They’ve got fast guys up front. They’ve also got good veterans, who know how to do it. Every week is a challenge regardless. I don’t get involved in “This team ranks here. This team ranks here’, because every week is different. You wish you could do what you do, and sometimes it just doesn’t happen. You have to have an answer to, ‘Hey. They’ve got so many guys there, we just can’t make it work.’ You better be able to pass it and run it based on how they play and how you play too.”


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