While Sunday’s game between the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles is meaningless in nature, there are still a lot of intriguing storylines that will spice up the last game of the season for both clubs.
In a strange twist, these two teams are going in the opposite direction, with the Giants currently in the midst of a three-game winning streak, while the Eagles come into the game losers of three straight. With the Giants surging behind the exploits of Odell Beckham Jr. and the Eagles now eliminated from playoff contention, Vegas odds makers have actually made the Giants the favorites in this contest.
These two teams obviously don’t like each other and there is no love lost between the two cities. The Giants will not forget the 27-0 loss back in Week 6. The Giants would love to end the season with a win fueled by vengeance and build some confidence heading into next year.
Here then, are five things to watch for.
Will the Eagles come into the game with any intensity, given they don’t have much to play for?
The short answer is yes.
Like I said before, this rivalry has no bounds, and if there is a game that the Eagles will get up for, it’s this game. They would love nothing more than to ruin the Giants’ momentum and regroup in winning their last game while not ending their season on a four-game losing streak.
So, effort should be there from both teams, even though nothing is on the line for either clubs.
How will Mark Sanchez perform upon his return to MetLife Stadium?
This is another interesting storyline, as the ex-Jet castoff comes back to the home of many enjoyable, but mostly horrible memories (someone say Buttfumble?). You know Sanchez would like to leave one last indelible impression before next season, as there is no guarantee he’ll be starting next year for the Eagles. And what better place to do it other than MetLife Stadium?
We know the Giants’ secondary is vulnerable and Sanchez has great weapons at his disposal in LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, Jeremy Maclin, Jordan Matthews and Riley Cooper. So, he has the ability to go out in style.
However, he’ll be sure to face pressure up front and the Giants can easily rattle him.
How will Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr end their seasons?
Simply put, the play of Beckham Jr. has made it possible for Manning to turn his season around.
Ever since his atrocious five-interception game against the 49ers, Manning has thrown for 1,486 yards and 11 touchdown with just two interceptions in his last five games. Of course, eight of those 11 touchdowns have gone to Beckham Jr. They are definitely feeding off of each other and building a terrific rapport, which will bode well for the future.
With the Eagles allowing 254 passing yards per game (25th in the NFL), expect Manning to air it out (mostly, of course, to Beckham Jr.) and exploit one of Philadelphia’s biggest weaknesses.
Can Andre Williams build on season-ending momentum?
On offense, it has not been all about Beckham Jr, as fellow rookie Andre Williams is starting to rev up the Giants’ running game, too.
In his last three games, Williams has rushed for 285 yards and one touchdown. With Rashad Jennings banged up, it has been Williams leading the ground attack of late.
Expect Williams to get some carries while opening up some play-action calls. With the Eagles defense a shell of what it once was, Williams should have another productive afternoon.
Is this the last we see of Jason Pierre-Paul?
Like many other members of the Giants, Pierre-Paul is ending his season on a high note. He has seven sacks in his last four games and looks like the JPP of old.
Finally healthy and hitting his stride, many are left wondering if Pierre-Paul is just trying to showcase himself before he possibly becomes a free agent in the offseason. With the Giants likely hamstrung by the cap, they may not have enough money to sign Pierre-Paul in the offseason. And the way he is talking, Pierre-Paul thinks he’s worth a lot of money.
Pierre-Paul, for sure, has had his ups and downs for the Giants, as he was an integral part in winning Super Bowl XLVI. That said, he has been terribly inconsistent, and we very well could be seeing the last of him, unfortunately.
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