NFC East TNF Showdown: Eagles vs Giants
The Eagles (2-3) visit the Giants (1-4) on Thursday night. To say, this is a must win game for both teams, is an understatement. Both teams have really struggled to start the season. It is a different tale for each team though. The Giants, even with the addition of #2 overall pick Saquon Barkley, were picked by many to have a losing season.
For the Eagles, expectations couldn’t have been higher. Reigning Super Bowl champions, Doug’s “This is the new norm” parade quote, the addition of new players, (Michael Bennett, Haloti Ngata, Mike Wallace, and Dallas Goedert), and the return of key injured players (Carson Wentz, Darren Sproles, Jordan Hicks, Sidney Jones, and Jason Peters) all had this city at a fever pitch. We were going to run the league and we knew it. We were going to be unstoppable. Everybody better be ready when they play Philly.
Then life happened.
It turns out that some of those players that we were so quick to forget (Brent Celek, LeGarrette Blount, Patrick Robinson, and, what the heck, even Torrey Smith) were really quite valuable to what the Eagles did last season. You see, neither Dallas Goedert or Zach Ertz can block like Celek did. No running back on the Eagles roster is capable of the level of pass protection that Blount provided. Torrey Smith wasn’t the best receiver when he was here, but defenses respected our deep threat. Now with Mike Wallace injured, we do not have a deep threat, which allows the defense to play closer to the line of scrimmage and takes away a lot of underneath throws that we used to complete with ease. On the defensive side, Patrick Robinson is surely missed. Just last game, Sidney Jones allowed every pass thrown his direction to be caught and also missed two tackles.
Division opponent, on the road, and a short week – these ingredients are generally not in the recipe for a successful week, but this is no normal week. This week is a true must-win game. If they don’t succeed, their chances of making the playoffs, let alone getting a bye, would be getting very slim. Let’s take a quick look at a few things to watch for when both teams have the ball, and some keys to victory.
What to watch for when the Eagles have the ball
Look for Corey Clement to have a big week this week in his return from injury. Darren Sproles will hopefully play next week, and Jay Ajayi is on the IR (torn ACL). Look for Wendell Smallwood to act as the change of pace back. Hopefully he can build on his very successful last few weeks. Let’s all hope that rookie Josh Adams is not needed.
The Giants’ defensive line is pitiful. They only have six sacks on the year so far, dead last in the NFL. If there is any opponent that our offensive line can finally put a good game together against, it should be these guys. The Giants are getting back 2016 2nd Team All-Pro Olivier Vernon from injury this week, however, which should help boost their pass rush.
Keys to victory
- Run the ball. The Eagles are best when they control the time of possession and set up their passing attack by running the ball. Carson will be much better protected if we can establish an effective running attack.
- Try at least 2-3 deep passes. This will help keep the safeties from crowding the box, allowing the running game to be more effective, which in turn makes the passing game more effective.
- Doug needs to be 2017 Doug, not Andy Reid 2.0. The clock management has been dreadful, and the play calling has been beyond predictable this year. Doug has to find the magic from last year.
What to watch for when the Giants have the ball
The Giants’ offensive line is not good, plain and simple. The Eagles’ defensive line should be able to batter Eli all game. However, this same scenario has been the case for the last two years, and the Eagles’ defense has a grand total of 2 sacks in the last 4 games against the Giants. Not very good.
Saquon Barkley is the Giants’ main upgrade from last year. He will put a lot of pressure on the Eagles’ linebackers and defensive line. The Eagles need sure tackling. Saquon makes his money breaking tackles and making people miss. We need to keep him under 140 combined yards.
I’ve been having nightmares all week about Odell Beckham Jr. vs Jalen Mills. OBJ plays his best football against our team. In the offseason, he became the highest paid wide receiver in football, and he will want to show why on prime time TV. The Eagles need to have a safety helping whoever is guarding OBJ.
Keys to Victory
- Tackling. Like so many other things that used to be a strength for the Eagles, it seems tackling has gone by the wayside. The Giants have some very skilled position players and will take advantage if we fail to tackle well.
- Pressure on Eli. We need to get to Eli with just the front four. Derek Barnett being back from injury will certainly be a boost to a vaulted D-Line that recorded just one sack last week.
- Play calling. Whether it’s cornerbacks being instructed to play 10 yards off the ball or Jim Schwartz’ refusal to call a blitz when we haven’t been generating a pass rush, nothing has been more infuriating this season than the defensive play calling. Jim Schwartz must correct this.
This will be a tough game. Last year, when the Giants were 3-13, the Eagles needed a miracle 61 yard field goal to beat them in Week 3. Then in Week 15, Nick Foles played just well enough to squeak by them by five.
The Giants will score early, but the Eagles finally show some fight, and Jake Elliot gets his mojo back by kicking a last second field goal to win the game.
Eagles 27 – Giants 24