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By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor
The Eagles will be heading into what could be considered one of their more difficult games in the later stages of this season (because it is one of three remaining away games) but are expected to have a personnel advantage dues to a long list of injuries for the Giants.
The Eagles are now two games back from the Cowboys in the NFC East and the Giants, who are in last one and a half games behind the Eagles, will be looking to bump the Birds to third.
The Eagles linebacking corps will be without it’s most athletic defender for the next few weeks with Davion Taylor placed on IR, so that could be an area to keep an eye on.
RB Jordan Howard
Howard is a big blow to this team as his running style plays incredibly well with the offensive line that the Eagles have up front. Howard has been one of the sparks that has helped to get the Eagles offense into shape and the team struggled once again after losing him last weekend. Miles Sanders and Boston Scott will need to pickup the slack and Kenneth Gainwell is likely to be active once again.
CB Tay Gowan
Acquired midseason in the Zach Ertz trade, Gowan has only been with the team for about a month and a half and has been inactive on most game days. He was a raw prospect coming out of college and is likely still learning the defense, so it should be expected that he is listed as inactive this week once again as it shouldn’t impact the defensive personnel much with Darius Slay officially cleared from the concussion protocol.
Related Reading:Eagles-Giants Preview
WR Sterling Shepard
Shepard is the Giants second-leading receiver in yards (324) with Kenny Golladay not working out as well as the team had hoped and Kadarius Toney only having a few major games on the season. Beyond those top three, the Giants have one-time standout Darius Slayton followed by largely ineffective one-trick ponies in John Ross and Dante Petis, meaning the receiving corps will be stretched thin if any other issues were to occur.
FB Cullen Gillaspia
Gillaspia is a special teamer and his absence will go largely unnoticed. He’s played just four offensive snaps all season long.
TE Kaden Smith
For nearly any other team, the Giants missing their third-string tight end would be a non-story, but Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon has yet to plug holes in his defense and the Eagles are brutalized by tight ends almost every week, including those with the same notoriety as Smith. As such, this could be a big deal despite the fact that Evan Engram should be able to go as it may limit how much the Giants can go into 12 personnel.
TE Kyle Rudolph
Rudolph is like a second starter at the tight end position for the Giants. He’s played around 50% of snaps and is what has allowed the Giants to utilize 12 personnel so often. He has, however, not made much of an impact in the passing game so far with just 147 yards on the season. That said, this is again an Eagles defense that has been brutalized by tight ends, particularly the second-stingers and Rudolph has a history of being very effective in the league. If Rudolph is unable to go, he may be the biggest name for the Eagles defense on this list. If he does go, he could be expected to have the best game of his Giants career this week.
WR Kadarius Toney
Toney is the Giants consolation prize after they selected him in the first round of this years draft following the Giants reportedly being furious that the Eagles got DeVonta Smith. Toney has been much hyped by places like Pro Football Focus and the New York Media, but he has just 392 yards on the season. While that leads the team and would still be fourth on the Eagles list, what makes that so bad is that he had 189 yards in a single week five matchup against the Giants. That means he’s had just 203 yards across eight other games (or 25 yards a game). Take out that one game and he’s barely been more productive that Jalen Reagor, Kenneth Gainwell (who has been inactive and not used for the past month), or Zach Ertz (in only his time for the Eagles prior to his trade a month and a half ago). Still, he’d be the fourth-best receiver in terms of yardage for the Giants, so with Shephard out, his absence would also be a big leg up for the Eagles.
RB Saquon Barkley
The explosive Barkley continues to deal with lower-body injuries. It will be interesting to see how his offseason is handled as a free agent considering how good he is but that he has yet to fully recover from his ACL tear last year. Devontae Booker will draw most of the snaps at running back if Barkley cannot go, but that’s good for the Eagles defense as he is not nearly as explosive in the passing game as Barkley is so the front seven should be able to better contain him.
WR John Ross
A big name, Ross has eight receptions for 189 yards on the season. He’s one of those fringe guys with the speed to burn, but no other major skills in areas like route-running. He has the speed that could make him far more dangerous, but has a poor injury history and is lacking in other areas of the game that have prevented him from making that leap. If Toney cannot go, Ross would be expected to see a ton of snaps, so if neither can go, the Giants passing game could be in real trouble.