By Matt Szczypiorski, Sports Talk Philly Contributing Writer
The Eagles are coming off of yet another loss on Sunday, and will have a quick turnaround as they host their divisional foes, the New York Giants, on Thursday night.
The Eagles have a putrid 1-4-1 record, yet sit just a half game out of first place behind the 2-4 Cowboys. Recently, that ugly record that disgustingly has three digits honestly has not been as horrifying as it may seem on the surface.
The Eagles last two losses came at the hands of two of the best teams in football, the Steelers and the Ravens. In both games, the Eagles found themselves down double digits in the second half, and in both instances they clawed their way back to make it a two point game.
Obviously, both games ended in extremely frustrating losses that only tantalized Eagles fans of what could have been, but that despicable 1-4-1 record doesn’t seem detrimental once you factor everything into account.
That being said, if the Eagles lose this game at home to a truly terrible New York Giants team, it will be much harder to shine a positive light on this squad.
As is tradition at this point, the Eagles will be #BackInBlack as they like to say, for a home game against the Giants. For those of you who are not doing the math at home, don’t fret, because I am.
This is the sixth time in the last seven years the Eagles will wear their black uniforms for a home game against the Giants, and the fifth instance in which it will be a night game. I think this tweet sums up the current situation pretty well.
Eagles Offense vs. Giants Defense
Let’s start with this: what starters are actually available for Thursday night’s game on offense? It’s a pretty short list, but actually two names longer than I expected it would be at the start of the week.
Quarterback Carson Wentz, who is hanging on by his last limb with the way he’s been hit this season. Alongside him are center Jason Kelce and two returning starters in right tackle Lane Johnson and wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Quite honestly, I don’t expect Johnson or Jackson to make it all the way through this game.
In other news, the Eagles cut guard Jamon Brown for reasons I can only assume include: A. sacking his own quarterback and B. fixing his glove as defensive linemen ran right past him and toward Wentz. Good riddance.
Jamon Brown decided to fix his gloves mid play instead of helping out Carson Wentz. pic.twitter.com/NQNvYTjnu3— Brenden Deeg (@eaglestalk_) October 19, 2020
Running back Miles Sanders and tight end Zach Ertz will also be out for Thursday’s contest. Sanders will be a big loss for a team that has struggled to run the football consistently, as he is third in the league in rushing but inexplicably is just 16th in carries. Part of his high yardage total is due to two chunk runs of 70+ yards.
Don’t you worry though, because back-up running back Boston Scott is a majority owner of the New York Football Giants with the way he tormented their defense last season. Scott is going to have to continue that magic if the Eagles want to have a chance in this one.
As for the tight end position, it is looking a little more bleak in that department with Ertz out. Jason Croom, who, you guessed it, was fresh off the practice squad last week, will likely get the start as Dallas Goedert is still injured. Croom caught a touchdown last week, but it was probably the easiest touchdown he has ever had in his life. Color me skeptical.
Wide receiver Travis Fulgham has proven that he is legit. He had a sluggish first half, much like the rest of the offense, but exploded in the second half. He caught a jump-ball touchdown over Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey, two of the best corners in the game, and drew a deep pass interference penalty on Peters to set the Eagles up in great position to tie the game.
Fulgham has caught a touchdown in every game he has played in thus far. Against a fairly below average Giants secondary, expect much of the same from Fulgham, even with the return of DeSean Jackson. In other news, has anyone actually seen Alshon Jeffery? Do we have photo evidence that he’s still on the Philadelphia Eagles?
Catching a TD over Marlon Humphrey & Marcus Peters is no fluke.— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) October 19, 2020
Fulgham is legit. pic.twitter.com/g4hfCbhsNj
The Giants defense actually isn’t as horrible as you would expect a 1-5 team’s defense to be. They rank 21st against the pass, just two notches behind the Eagles, and are the fifth best team in terms of rushing yards given up per attempt.
The Giants front seven is the strength of the defense, with defensive lineman such as Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams, as well as linebacker Blake Martinez. The secondary is average to below average, as they have big names with guys like Jabrill Peppers and Logan Ryan.
The Eagles are going to have to attack the Giants through the air, much to Doug Pederson’s liking. Running the ball behind a makeshift offensive line without your best back is not a recipe for success. Quick timing patterns such as slants, hitches, and play-action passes are going to be the Eagles best shot in the air. It’s also the best strategy to keep Wentz, you know, alive.
Eagles Defense vs. Giants Offense
Despite giving up 30 points last week, if you watched the entirety of the game you know that the Eagles defense wasn’t as bad as 30 points may indicate. The defense totaled eight tackles for loss, three of which were sacks, and a multitude of three and outs.
The defensive line played very well, as they made Jackson uncomfortable in the pocket seemingly all afternoon. The offense just didn’t capitalize in the first half and routinely put the Eagles defense in bad field position. Oh, and Nathan Gerry is still the achilles heel of the defense.
This is what we have instead: pic.twitter.com/1u99hMt3Si— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) October 19, 2020
Cornerback Avonte Maddox is set to return Thursday night, hopefully meaning the end of Jalen Mills’ reappearance at corner. Mills will likely be moved to safety, much to my dismay. I truly think that Will Parks should get a fair shot, there's no way he is worse than Mills is.
Quite honestly, there is not a whole lot the Eagles defense should have to do in order to dominate the Giants offense. The Giants rank 31st in yards per game, 27th in passing yards, 29th in rushing yards, and 30th in points. I’m no rocket scientist, but that’s not good.
With the pressure that the Eagles defensive line has gotten to start the season, it will be a crime if they are not in Giants quarterback Daniel Jones’ face all night long. The Eagles should have five sacks minimum against this embarrassment of an offensive line.
None of the Giants running backs really pop off the page though there are some recognizable names in Dion Lewis and Devonta Freeman. The Giants have struggled all year to get the running game going, even when star running back Saquon Barkley was still in the lineup. The Eagles defensive line should also dominate this portion of the game.
The Giants receivers are actually decent, with former Eagle Golden Tate leading the way in terms of big names. However, it is second year receiver Darius Slayton who is the biggest receiving threat on this Giants team. He has 406 yards receiving on just 25 receptions, an average of 16.2 yards per catch, to go along with three touchdowns.
Slayton, if you remember back to last season’s matchup at the Linc, torched the Eagles for two long touchdowns. If the Eagles can lock him up, they will be in great shape. I hope to see Darius Slay on Slayton for the majority of the game.
The Eagles defense has given up over 30 points in the last two weeks to some pretty good offenses. If they give up 30 points to this Giants offense, something has gone seriously wrong. By seriously wrong, I of course mean Nathan Gerry, Jalen Mills, and the sticks defense.
If the Eagles lose this game, heads are going to roll. The Eagles have a golden opportunity to win this division with everyone else being worse than they are, so they cannot afford to lose division games to inferior opponents. You know, like they did against Washington.
Even without seven regular starters, I think the Eagles get off to a fast start and get first half touchdowns from Travis Fulgham and Boston Scott. The Giants respond with a touchdown from Darius Slayton, and the halftime score is 14-7.
The Eagles will continue their trend of playing much better in the second half of games and will dominate after halftime. The defense doesn’t surrender another touchdown until the game is all but over, and the Eagles add two more touchdowns, one from Greg Ward Jr. The other will come on a rushing touchdown by Jalen Hurts, the first of his career.
Eagles win 31-17, and will be in first place in the NFC (L)East for the time being.
Time: 8:20 p.m.
TV: FOX or NFL Network
Radio: 94.1 FM WIP
Online: NFL Gamepass