Six Points: Giants vs. Eagles
The Week 6 game between the New York Giants (3-2) and the Philadelphia Eagles (2-3) has major implications in the NFC East in 2015. The game also likely brings back bitter memories for the Giants. In 2014, when the Giants played in Philadelphia, they lost the game 27-0 and star wide receiver Victor Cruz was lost for the season with a torn patellar tendon.
The Giants can put that memory behind them for now as they enter Week 6 on a three-game winning streak. Quarterback Eli Manning is playing arguably the best regular season football of his career — he has 10 touchdowns and just two interceptions through the first five games.
The Eagles are riding a winning streak of their own, even if it has only been one game. The offense seems to finally be meshing together and settling in. Quarterback Sam Bradford has thrown for 603 passing yards and five touchdowns over the last two games.
Here are three keys to the game for both the Giants and the Eagles.
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1. Attack the Eagles corners on the outside
The Eagles play a style of defense that is unafraid to rotate their safeties down into the box, often leaving their outside cornerbacks alone in one-on-one coverage. After signing a massive contract in the offseason, outside cornerback Byron Maxwell has struggled in coverage for the Eagles. Manning will have plenty of one-on-one opportunities on the outside in the intermediate and deep areas of the field, and he will have to trust his outside receivers to make the plays. This will be a lot easier if both Odell Beckham Jr. and Rueben Randle can get healthy in time to suit up.
2. Send extra blitzers to Sam Bradford’s strongside
As Chip Kelly pointed out earlier this week, the Eagles’ offensive line played much better in Week 5. However, the right side of the line continued to struggle in spite of an easy matchup against a weak defensive front. Matt Tobin has taken over for the injured Andrew Gardner at right guard, and the journeyman lineman has allowed allowed two sacks, a quarterback hit and two hurries in his first two starts. Right tackle Lane Johnson is playing through an MCL injury and he has allowed three sacks in his last two games. Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo should take advantage of this by blitzing the left outside linebacker, the nickel back and the strong safety.
3. Avoid the Eagles’ interior defensive line
The Giants should utilize a similar gameplan to the one they used against the Buffalo Bills in Week 4. The Eagles have been dominant against the run thanks to the impressive play of defensive linemen Bennie Logan, Fletcher Cox and Vinny Curry. Just like they did against the Bills, the Giants should use outside runs and short passes to the running backs throughout the game.
1. Attack the middle of the field on offense
The Giants have been one of the NFL’s worst teams at covering the middle of the field, and injuries to linebackers Devon Kennard and Jon Beason have only made things worse. Even if those two players return in Week 6, the Giants simply don’t have the safeties and linebackers to keep up over the middle when they can’t put pressure on the quarterback. According to Pro Football Focus, no team has generated less pressure on a per snap basis than the Giants.
2. Make Manning check down
In Ben McAdoo’s offensive scheme, Manning likes to get the football out quickly. When nothing is available, he will throw the ball away or check it down before taking a sack or throwing into a tight window where the pass can be intercepted. If the Eagles can keep everything underneath, the Giants will be forced to convert too many third-down conversions, and this will lead to a greater chance for a drive to stall.
3. Test the Giants’ safeties over the top
When opposing quarterbacks have tested the Giants over the top, they have found success. Starting safeties Landon Collins and Brandon Merriweather are both suited for a downhill role, even if Collins has the athleticism to play the deep half of the field. In Week 4, Bradford connected with Riley Cooper, Miles Austin and Nelson Agholor on three deep passes down the field. In this Week 6 matchup, he should look to do the same against a a pair of safeties who are suspect in coverage.
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