BERGEN COUNTY, N.J.- With the Dallas Cowboys and Alex Smith-less Washington Redskins set to square-off for first place in the NFC East on Thanksgiving day, the New York Giants (3-7) have a date with the Philadelphia Eagles (4-6), at the bottom of the division, on Sunday.
The first time these teams met this season (week 6 at MetLife Stadium) the Eagles came away with a decisive victory: 34-13. But the Giants seem to be an entirely different team coming out of the bye week– since then, they’re 2-0 and they’ve vowed to win out the rest of the season. Maybe offensive lineman Jamon Brown, who is still undefeated in 2018 (acquired from the Los Angeles Rams), is the Giants’ lucky charm.
To reporters on Wednesday, Giants Head Coach Pat Shumur explained that last New York/Philadelphia meeting as: “We turned the ball over, we gave them big plays, we just didn’t play well enough to beat any team, so we have to fix that. That’s more about us. Going back to it, we can’t turn the ball over, pick six early in the game. We did a lot of things where you go, ‘Ugh, now I see why we didn’t (win).’ That’s more about us and less about them.”
“I’ve challenged the team to commit, commit to each other for these next three (games) and none greater than this one.”
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) November 20, 2018
NEW YORK GIANTS KEYS TO VICTORY
1. Eli Manning: Manning was almost perfect in week 11 action (17 for 18, 231 yards, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions). The only missed completion was a ball that hit Barley in the hands on a screen play. Barkley, following the game, felt like the fielder who could not make a play to keep his pitcher’s perfect game in-tact. At his locker, he told reporters:
Saquon Barkley on not being able to catch what became Eli Manning’s lone incompletion: “I definitely owe Eli something, because he would’ve had a perfect day. I’ve caught that pass multiple times before.”
— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoSNY) November 18, 2018
Manning looked like “Vintage Eli”- standing tall in the pocket and using the play-action to make effective plays. In going toe-to-toe with Wentz on Sunday, Manning must put together a similar performance.
2. Spread the ball around: In the week six loss, the Giants’ leading receiver was… their running back. Barkley caught 9 passes on 12 targets for 99 yards. Only seven receivers caught passes and Beckham, Jr. was limited to 6 catches for 44 yards. Last week, Manning completed passes to nine different receivers. Odell Beckham, Jr. lead the team with 4 catches on 4 targets for 74 yards a touchdown. That’s the way it should be: put the ball in the hands of your most dynamic playmaker and good things will happen.
3. Withstand the pressure from the Eagles’ Front Four: In their last meeting, the Eagles’ defensive line had their way with the Giants’ offensive line. Four different Eagles recorded sacks on Manning in week six: Michael Bennett (DE), Nigel Bradham (OLB), Fletcher Cox (DT), and Destiny Vaeao (DT). [Vaeao was signed to the New York Jets’ practice squad on Monday.] Bennett’s was of the extra-special strip-sack variety. But it is not week six anymore- it is week eleven- and the Giants seem to be ready to handle the pressure. New York is 2-0 since the signing of Brown and Manning, last week, was only hit five times.
Eli Manning – We’re playing better football right now and we’re finishing drives…We have to keep playing well. The Eagles have a good team and a good front four. We have to be ready.
— New York Giants (@Giants) November 21, 2018
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES KEYS TO VICTORY
1. Carson Wentz: In the Eagles’ week six meeting with the Giants, Carson Wentz threw three touchdown passes– a stark contrast to Wentz’ most recent game, one of, if not the worst of his career. I imagine Wentz entering play with a chip on his shoulder, with something to prove. With running back Josh Adams being one of the only bright spots for the Eagles in week eleven action (53 rushing yards on seven carries, 19 receiving yards, scored the only touchdown), expect an expanded role for him in week twelve. This will relieve a little pressure on Wentz to feel like the only chance the Eagles have to win the game relies solely on his arm.
New week. New opportunity. Nothing but faith and confidence in this team to get things turned around. Gotta stay positive through the adversity.
Also, prayers up for the fellas that got injured last night. Worst part of this game. #FlyEaglesFly
— Carson Wentz (@cj_wentz) November 19, 2018
2. Exploit the Giants’ difficulties in covering the tight end: The Giants seem to still be struggling to limit the production of the tight end, especially those of the ‘above average’ kind. Last week O.J. Howard collected five receptions on six targets for 78 yards. In October, the last time the Giants and Eagles met, tight end Zach Ertz caught a 10-yard touchdown pass. Eagles play-callers must put Ertz in a position to succeed: in safety Landon Collins’ coverage zone. The more times they target Ertz, the better.
3. Limit Saquon Barkley’s production: In week six, Barkley was the single-most productive offensive player for New York. In addition to the 99 receiving yards mentioned above, Barkley also posted, on 13 carries, 130 yards and a touchdown (including a 50-yard rush). In total, Barkley accounted for 229 of the Giants 401 yards.
— New York Giants (@Giants) November 21, 2018
That is bad news for the Eagles. They aren’t going to eliminate Barkley’s impact on the game- he’s just too good. Instead, Philadelphia has got to look for ways to contain him.
THE BOTTOM LINE
To reporters, Shurmur said, on Wednesday: “We’re a much different team in a lot of ways. We found a way to have two good team victories the last two weeks, so we’re doing some things as a team better, not near good enough yet, but we are different. We have some new faces in there certainly.” Well, the biggest changes are in the offensive line. In week six, the Giants started: LT Nate Solder, LG Will Hernandez, C John Greco, RG Patrick Omameh, RT Chad Wheeler. In week twelve, two of the five positions are filled by different bodies. Spencer Pulley is now the starting center and Jamon Brown is now the started right guard. It’s obvious that this combination seems to be working for the Giants. From this, everything seems to be clicking offensively for the Giants. Add a defensive takeaway or two and I believe that the Giants will win their third straight game. The last time the Giants won three consecutive games was in November of 2016. The opponent that earned them the third notch in the streak? The Philadelphia Eagles.
Final Score prediction: Giants 28, Eagles 24