Giants, Eagles heading in opposite directions
At the season’s midpoint, Eli Manning’s starting job was in jeopardy and New York seemingly was primed for a run at the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s draft.
But the Giants (3-7) have won two straight after a dismal first half and the offense has put up 65 points in those games. Manning is coming off an excellent performance and he’s not hearing any more questions about getting benched.
That’s not the case for Carson Wentz.
The defending champion Eagles (4-6) have lost two in a row and some misguided fans were even calling for Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles to replace Wentz in the starting lineup following his career-worst effort in a 48-7 loss to New Orleans.’
Despite losing records, both teams are still in the mix in the NFC East entering Sunday’s game in Philadelphia. Dallas and Washington are tied for first place at 6-5.
“You always want to have the momentum and I think that’s kind of what the two games gave us, and we just got to keep preparing the way that we’ve been preparing and hopefully we keep it on the roll,” Giants wideout Sterling Shepard said.
The Eagles played their best game of the season in a 34-13 victory against New York in October. It was the only game they’ve scored more than 24 points.
“That was a fun game,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “I felt like the offense was in sync, in rhythm. I think you just have to, as a play caller. kind of get back to who we are.”
Much has changed since that game as Philadelphia has lost three of four.
“Last time we played them, I know exactly why they beat us,” Giants coach Pat Shurmur said. “We didn’t do anything that you need to do against any type of team to win. 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 and less about them.”
Here are things to know about the Giants-Eagles matchup:
The Eagles are missing three-fourths of their starting secondary, their starting nickel cornerback and their top backup. The fifth cornerback could be out, too. Cornerback Ronald Darby and safety Rodney McLeod are out for the season and cornerback Jalen Mills has a foot injury. Cornerbacks Sidney Jones and Avonte Maddox are also sidelined and Rasul Douglas is questionable. The Eagles will have to count on three guys who have limited experience: Cre’Von LeBlanc, De’Vante Bausby and Chandon Sullivan. It could mean a big day for Shepard and Odell Beckham Jr.
“The biggest challenge is the rhythm, the continuity, communication sometimes, just body language, understanding the defense,” Pederson said. “All those things that kind of come with part of being around in OTAs and being around in training camp. The fact is everything matters now, everything counts. It’s a real game. They have to obviously understand that, step their game up, focus — laser focus — like we talk about, and be prepared.”
Rookie Saquon Barkley had 130 yards rushing and caught nine passes for 99 yards last month vs. the Eagles. The team’s run defense, which ranked first last year and was tops through the early part of this season, has steadily declined. Ezekiel Elliott had 151 yards rushing against Philadelphia two weeks ago, and Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara combined for 174 last week.
“I think he’s improved every week and I think he’s a guy who wants to be great, wants to get better,” Manning said of Barkley.
GET GOLDEN INVOLVED
Receiver Golden Tate has only seven catches for 67 yards in two games since the Eagles traded a third-round pick to Detroit to get him. Offensive coordinator Mike Groh said this week it’s been difficult trying to integrate him into the offense.
The Giants’ much-maligned offensive line is coming off its two best games and faces a difficult challenge against Fletcher Cox and Philadelphia’s defensive line that adds Tim Jernigan this week. The Eagles will need to get plenty of pressure from their front four to help the inexperienced secondary.
“The thing that stirs the drink for them is their front,” Shurmur said. “It’s going to be important that we do a good job first off blocking them, and then when we choose to throw the ball outside, being really good about what we try to do.”
The Eagles are 16-4 against the Giants since 2008, including 8-1 since 2014.