By Matt Szczypiorski, Sports Talk Philly Contributing Writer
The first place 3-4-1 Eagles will travel up the New Jersey turnpike to East Rutherford to take on the two win New York Giants.
These two teams played just three weeks ago, a narrow 22-21 comeback victory in favor of the Birds that saw the Giants find new, impressive ways to lose a football game.
The Eagles are coming off of their much needed bye week after a disgusting victory against Dallas. The banged up Birds are finally starting to get healthy. Big name offensive contributors Miles Sanders and Alshon Jeffery look set to play, while Lane Johnson's status remains up in the air.
The Giants are coming off of a victory in Washington D.C. against the Football Team, something the Eagles could not do. Both of New York's wins this season have come against Washington.
On paper, you would not think this game would be close. But, that’s why sporting events aren’t played on paper. Expect this to be a close game between teams that know each other well, much like their Thursday night battle a couple weeks ago. I expect this mostly because the Eagles are incapable of blowing a team out.
Eagles Offense vs. Giants Defense
I don’t even know what to say anymore about quarterback Carson Wentz. The way he has played this year has been so utterly confusing and frustrating. It has been a huge step back from the way he has played the past few years.
I don’t want to hear the, “oh but everyone around him is injured,” excuse anymore. At this point, it’s a lazy argument. Great quarterbacks raise the level of the guys around them, which Wentz has done at points this year and the back half of last season.
On the other hand, Wentz is still turning the ball over at an epic rate and does not know when to throw the ball away or just take a sack. For someone who is halfway through his fifth year, it’s unacceptable. It pains me to say this, but I am oh so very close to being off the Wentz Wagon. We’ve seen flashes of his greatness, but it has been few and far between.
Now that I’ve gotten my rant out of the way, let’s look at the rest of the offense. It’s been a little while so let’s run through our checklist and make sure we have everything.
Is the offensive line still an unmitigated disaster? Check. Is the running game still nonexistent because Doug Pederson has some kind of personal vendetta against running backs? Check. Is Travis Fulgham still the equivalent of a resurrected Jesus H. Christ in the eyes of Eagles fans? Check!
Now that we’ve got that squared away, let’s look at some Eagles offensive stats at their midway point of the season.
The Eagles, once an offensive powerhouse, now find themselves ranked 27th in the league in yards per game. They are 28th in the league in passing yards but 13th in the league in rushing yards per game. You don’t need to have a master’s degree to figure out that the Eagles offense ranks so poorly in total offense because they rely too heavily on the pass.
The Eagles have attempted 307 passes and run the ball just 193 times, which does not even take into account the plays that were originally intended to be pass plays. Dougie P my man, running the ball works. You’re getting Miles Sanders back this week. Run the daggum ball.
The Giants defense is the strength of their team. On the surface that doesn’t seem all that impressive given how poor their offense, and team in general, is. They actually rank 15th in the league in yards allowed per game, which is remarkable for a team with just two wins.
The Giants have a phenomenal run defense, as they are sixth in the league against the ground game. Does that mean I retract my earlier statement about wanting the Eagles to run the football more? Absolutely not.
Where New York has been really susceptible is against the pass, where they rank 25th in the league in pass yards allowed per game. Wentz had his best statistical performance of the season against the G-men in their first meeting, as he finished with 359 passing yards and two touchdowns through the air.
He should be able to put forth a similar effort this Sunday. Or maybe not. Who knows at this point? My expectations for this offense are so low.
Eagles Defense vs. Giants Offense
The Eagles defense has continued to be the “strength” of this team as they are currently the 10th best defense in all of football in terms of total yards allowed per game. For the first time in what seems like ages, the Eagles are actually statistically better against the pass than the run.
I had to do a double take when looking at these stats, but they check out. The Eagles, yes the Philadelphia Eagles, are fourth in the league in pass yards allowed per game. If you had told me that they would be ranked this highly against the pass last year, I would have slapped you upside the head all the way down Frankford avenue.
A big reason for their unprecedented improvement has obviously been the play of their new shiny shutdown corner, Darius Slay. Safety Rodney McLeod has also played well this season without Malcolm Jenkins and while dragging around the deadweight that is Jalen Mills.
However, as good as they’ve been, you also have to acknowledge that part of their statistical success is due to who they have played against. In the last two games alone the Birds defense has had the pleasure of hosting Daniel Jones and Ben DiNucci. Neither guy came close to throwing for more than 200 yards. They’ve also played against Nick Mullens and a guy who was not even on Washington’s active roster the past couple of weeks.
With that being said, another part of their success against the pass has been because of their pass rush. The Eagles rank third in the NFL in sacks this season, and Brandon Graham finds himself fourth in the league with seven sacks on his own.
The last time these two teams squared off, the Eagles were gashed by the Giants running attack for big chunks. Daniel Jones, obviously, had that 80-yard run that would have been a touchdown if he wasn’t such a dorky klutz. Wayne Gallman had two straight runs of 10 or more yards in the fourth quarter that nearly cost the Eagles the game. Giving up 160 rushing yards to a team that couldn’t get Saquon Barkley more than 10 yards per game in the first two weeks is not a good look.
The Giants offense is poor. The running game, theoretically, is not good. Quarterback Daniel Jones is quite literally terrible. The offensive line is putrid. The receivers are good, led by Darius Slayton, Sterling Sheppard, Golden Tate, and tight end Evan Engram. Jones just can’t seem to get them the ball as he runs for his life.
The Eagles defensive game plan should be simple this week. Limit the big plays, and they should be good. In each of the Giants touchdown drives in week eight, they got a huge play that propelled them either into the end zone or pretty darn close to it. Outside of that, they were anemic against the Eagles defense.
Much like every other divisional game, Eagles fans should be nervous. Every game the Eagles have played this season has been close, at times unnecessarily close, and quite frankly very unenjoyable to watch. I have not had fun watching the Eagles play a single game this season.
Philly fans, along with sports fans around the world, begged and begged for sports to come back, and for what? Nothing but endless pain, suffering, and mind-numbing frustration. It’s enough to drive a guy mad.
My prediction for this game will be that it is no different than every other game the Eagles have played this year. Carson Wentz will have the dumbest turnover you’ve ever seen, Doug Pederson will call like 13 run plays and 47 passes, and Jim Schwartz will call for the sticks defense on a 3rd & 15 and the Giants will get a first down off of it.
This game, of course, will be a nail-biter. Wentz plays okay, rebounding from an idiotic turnover and putting up some decent numbers. The defense limits some of the big plays, but will still find a way to make Daniel Jones look somewhat competent behind center.
Based on the Eagles upcoming schedule, this is not a game they can afford to lose. For that reason alone, I will hesitantly take the Eagles to win this game 25-20 on a defensive stand in Eagles territory as time expires.
No tweet has ever backfired on me so quickly— Ski (@matt_ski15) November 2, 2020
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Radio: 94.1 FM WIP
Online: NFL Gamepass