Eagle eye view of the enemy: New York Giants Re-Match
16 December 2017 Opinion
Division rivalry games are usually always exciting. This one holds a lot of weight for the Eagles playoff standings and must not be overlooked. The Eagles are dealing with a quarterback change while the Giants are floundering after their head coach was fired a week ago. With a lot on the line, the Eagles must secure the victory to maintain their lead in the NFC.
Let’s take a look at the rosters for this division rivalry match up:
Eagles starting quarterback is Nick Foles. I know, it is still sinking in for me as well. Foles is going to need good offensive line protection as the Giants defensive front is very solid. He got hit a lot at the end of the Rams game last week and it is very clear he does not have Wentz’ pocket mobility. Overall, he secured the important win over the Rams to become the number one seed in the NFC going into this week. Everything is right in front of Foles right now. He has a lot to play for and a strong roster to support him. If he protects the ball and Pederson caters the offense to his strengths, the Eagles should be fine this Sunday.
After being benched two weeks ago, Eli Manning threw 2 interceptions against the Cowboys defense last week. Although the Giants offense was able to control the clock against the Cowboys, they only managed to put up 10 points in the game. With key injuries to OBJ, Pugh, Marshall and others, this offense looks nothing like it did during the season last year. Manning will definitely improvise in an attempt to keep drives alive and that is where Eagles will have to capitalize and take the ball away. He does not have a strong run game to support him and his offensive line has struggled all season.
Big V is a concern if he does not have starting left guard Stefen Wisniewski next to him. We cannot have a weak left side of the offensive line. It is important Wis plays Sunday. He is currently listed as questionable but did practice on a limited basis Thursday and Friday. That is encouraging. Overall, Kelce, Johnson and Brooks have been playing great all season. Eagles line needs to hold up against the heat the Giants are going to be sending to attack Foles. The line must also impose their will in the running game in order to get the running backs going early on.
The Giants offensive line has been bad all season and they lost one of their best OL (Justin Pugh) to injury reserve this week. However, Pugh did not play against the Cowboys last week and Dallas’ defense did not sack Eli during the game. Last time the Eagles met the Giants, Eli was taken down 3 times for a loss of 15 total yards.
In week 3, the Giants running backs averaged 2.9 yards per rush. I expect Schwartz to amp up the guys to get back to this level of dominance after they let Todd Gurley do some damage last week. Fletcher Cox and Jernigan should take advantage of Pugh being out in the interior of the line. With pressure in Eli’s face, he is sure to make some costly mistakes Sunday.
According to ESPN rankings, the Giants have one of the worst run defenses in the league (30th). So far this season, they have 21 sacks. It has been an underwhelming performance by the highly-paid and very talented corps they have up front.
Eagles secondary has not been tackling very well in the past few games. It was one of their strengths and a large part of their success on defense early on this season and they must get back to it. Overall, we’ve got the talent upfront and ability to cover long enough to wreak havoc on Eli and the Giants Sunday. It would be promising to see the defense get multiple turnovers in the game to alleviate some of the pressure on Foles.
The Giants secondary was one I feared going into the season but it has been decimated with injuries. Janoris Jenkins was recently placed on IR and now Landon Collins is doubtful to play Sunday. In addition to the potential loss of Collins for the game, the Giants have already ruled out his backup Nat Berhe. Although the linebacker position was never a strength on this team, the Giants have also lost 5 LBs to season-ending injuries including Jonathan Casillas.
Zach Ertz and Brent Celek are the only two receivers who had experience playing with Foles during his first stint with the birds. I suspect Ertz to be a quality target for Foles to utilize as he gets acclimated to the feel and speed of the game again. Agholor, Mack and Smith are all deep threats in this offense and Foles can deliver a beautiful deep ball when he has the time. This may be the game to make a statement that the team is not dead in the water without Wentz. A deep pass down the field could very much help make that case. The running backs just got a whole lot more important. Ajayi, Blount and Clement will be pounding the rock in close to freezing temps vs one of the worst running defenses in the league? Lean on the run, Doug.
Outside of Sterling Shepard and their 1st-round pick Evan Engram, the Giants offense is pretty forgettable. They’ve had a rough year to say the least.
It’s time to show the league the Eagles are not just one player but are in fact a team. With a strong run game, I expect the Eagles to dominate the clock and wear down the Giants defense. On defense, Jim Schwartz will get the guys back to basics. Focusing on getting Eli on the ground and eliminating the run game will be the plan of attack. This is an important game for the Eagles and they’ll be playing like it to secure the win.