By Michael Stewart/@golferbad
Introduction: The New York Giants are playing the Philadelphia Eagles in a game that could decide the NFC east champion. These two teams played a few weeks back as the Giants were up 21-10 with 6:17 remaining in the game and failed to make a stop on the Eagles final two drives which both lead to touchdowns. The end result was a heart-breaking 22-21 lost that seemed to seal the Giants fate as the NFC east cellar dwellers. Fast forward and now the Giants have a chance to revenge that lost as they host the Eagles this Sunday. The Giants at 2-7 seem to treading upward and have played solid football over the past 6 games. The Eagles at 3-4-1 are riding a two game winning and are coming off a well needed bye week. The Giants should be feeling positive and the Eagles should be well rested, so this should be a fun game to watch. The weather forecast for the game is calling for possibly some light rain with temperatures in the low 50’s; nothing to be concerned about unless it rains heavier than expected. Here are my top 5 ways the Giants could continue their winnings ways and finally snap a 6 game losing streak against the Eagles:
- Fast Start/Finishers: The Giants have had fast starts now in 5 of the last 6 games and should have a won all of them with a little luck. Unfortunately; they only won two. In those same 5 games the Giants had fast starts, they struggled finishing off their opponents as they had 4th quarter leads in four of them only to come away with a win in two of those games.
- Execution: The Giants over the last 6 games have been slowing improving in the Red Zone (45.83% overall/Eagles 64% overall) and in 3rd down conversions (41.44% overall/Eagles-42.99% overall). This game is projected to be another close battle and these two categories could play a major role in the outcome. If the Giants could at the very least keep it close in these categories; they have a very good chance to win this game.
- Turnovers: The Giants had a +5 ratio last week against Washington with two clutch interceptions late in the 4th quarter to seal the victory and now have a 0 ratio on the year. The Philadelphia are an astounding -7 after 8 games led by Quarterback Carson Wentz who is on pace to throw 24 interceptions and has fumbled the ball 7 times; which is the same as Daniels Jones. The Giants must utilize this category to their advantage and force the Eagles into making mistakes.
- Battle in the Trenches: The Giants offensive line has seen a transformation over the last two games with the insertion of guard Shane Lemieux and tackle Matt Peart seeing more playing time. This is mainly evident in the running game as the Giants totaled 166 yards against a very talented front four in Washington. The Eagles might not have the collective talent on their front four like Washington, but this is a formidable group led by DT Fletcher Cox . The Eagles offensive line will also have their hands full against a Giants defensive front that is arguably their most talented position on defense led by Leonard Williams. The offensive line that can create more running lanes will have the biggest advantage.
- Sacking/Pressuring the Quarterback: The Eagles on paper have shown to have a better pass rushing team than the Giants with a 28-22 edge in sacks. The Eagles are led by linebacker Brandon Graham with 7 sacks and the Giants Leonard Williams with 5. Both teams understand that the one element and/or player on both teams that’s been hit with the turnover bug the most are Quarterbacks Carson Wentz and Daniel Jones. Both have fumbled 7 times thus far and Wentz is on pace to commit 24 interceptions to Jones 18. Expect both teams DC to create blitzing schemes and stunts to cause confusion and hopefully turnovers. Jones must be better than Wentz and minimize his mistakes if the Giants want to win.
Final Thoughts: This game could define the Giants season in either direction; which is why at this point it’s the most important game of the year for them. In their last meeting I went with the Giants to pull off an upset and if not for a couple of plays; the win was theirs for the taking. Based on the team’s performance this season; I expect another close game that will more than likely be decided in the final minutes. The Eagles have dominated the Giants over the last 10 meetings between them; winning 9 of them. This is a trend the Giants must end and this needs to start this Sunday, but it will take a full team effort to do so. Despite the Eagles up and down season, this team does have talent on both sides of the ball and they are the front runners to win the NFC east crown. Despite the Giants win against Washington, they must play better against the Eagles if they expect to win this game and perhaps play some meaningful games in December. Can the Giants play better against the Eagles? Can the Giants play mistake free football or at the very least minimize their mistakes against the Eagles? Can they make the big play when they need it on either side of the ball against the Eagles? The answers to these questions are unclear at this time, but what is clear is that the Giants have been given a great opportunity despite of their poor record. As I mentioned earlier, this game should be close and the team that executes the best in the closing minutes will be triumphant. I went with the Giants in their last meeting and it bit me on the back side so I now have mixed emotions. As a Giants fan, it’s hard betting against them, but as a sports writer; you need to look at the facts and despite playing their best football the history against the Eagles over the last few years can’t be ignored. The Eagle do not have to play flawless football to win this game, but the Giants do; so with that in mind the Giants will falter in the end and lose another close one and heart breaker to the Eagles.
Final Score: Eagles-24/Giants-20