October 18, 2015
Eagles. Giants. Rivalry. Primetime.
And, for one of teams, a chance at revenge.
Needless to say, there's a lot on the line Monday night at Lincoln Financial Field, especially after the Giants were embarrassed by the Birds in Week 6 of last year -- the 27-0 shoutout by the Eagles was their first of the Giants since 1996.
As if that wasn't the case already, the stakes were raised Sunday when the Redskins' loss to the Jets opened the door for the winner of this game to move into first place atop the NFC East.
It's going to be cold on Monday night, with the forecast calling for temperatures in the mid-40s at kickoff -- the coldest weather either team has played in all season. And while that may be a temperature suited for revenge, Eli Manning and the injury-plagued Giants will have their work cut out for them if they hope to wake up Tuesday morning with a two-game lead in the division rather than looking up at the first-place Eagles.
Here, as always, are the weekly over/unders:
Per topbet.eu, that's the projected point total for Monday night's game. I think that's pretty close to what it's going to wind up being. In our weekly predictions post, I guessed a final score of Eagles 31, Giants 17 (48 total), while Jimmy Kempski predicted a 27-24 Eagles win (51 total). Rich Hofmann thinks there's going to be a little more scoring, as he sees a 35-24 Eagles win.
Since Donovan McNabb's departure following the 2009 season, the Eagles and Giants have only combined for 50+ points three times in 10 meetings.
Furthermore, all three were played away from the Linc, including last year's meaningless regular season finale (a 36-24 win for the Birds). And while two of those instances came under Chip Kelly's watch, the Giants have scored a total of just 32 points -- 17 in 2012, 15 in 2013, and zero last season -- in their three games in South Philly since Kelly took over.
And considering the fact that the Eagles offense hasn't been performing as well, plus the question marks surrounding the health of some of Eli Manning's top receivers, it could be another low-scoring game for the Giants.
Through his first three games as the Eagles quarterback, Sam Bradford had just three touchdowns and four interceptions to go with 226 yards per game (72.5 passer rating). Since, the former Heisman winner has been a totally different player:
For the season, Bradford is averaging 256 yards per game, while the Giants defense has allowed 250 passing yards in each of its first five games. That number isn't likely to get much better this week after losing cornerback Prince Amukamara to a partially torn pectoral muscle and linebacker Jon Beason to a concussion.
All signs point to a big day for Bradford and the Eagles offense.
In 12 career games in Philadelphia, Manning has only twice posted a QB rating of 90 or above, with the last coming in 2011. This season, however, he's hit that mark in four of his team's five games, with the only exception coming in Week 1.
Still, Manning has been a much better QB at home this season than he has been on the road. Look no further than his completion percentage (72.2 at home compared to 56.3 on the road). And the disparity between his home and away passer ratings is even greater -- 110.9 at home, 81.0 on the road. He's also averaging 2.33 fewer yards per attempt and 135 fewer yards per game on the road.
That doesn't bode well for the Giants offense on Monday night, especially if Odell Beckham, Jr. is limited due to that hamstring injury.
Speaking of OBJ, the Giants wideout is listed as questionable on New York's injury report with a hamstring tweak that may or may not have occurred during a touchdown celebration.
The Eagles are practicing as if the 2014 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year will play, but he hasn't practiced all week and that's typically a sign that a player won't go. However, the extra day of rest could give Beckham time to heal to the point where he can at least go out on the field and draw some attention from the Birds secondary. That would certainly help Manning, even if Beckham isn't overly productive.
I think it's safe to assume that he won't replicate his performance from the last time these teams met (12 receptions, 185 yards and a TD), but that doesn't mean he won't play, despite not practicing.
Murray saw a season high in both carries (20) and receptions (7) against the Saints last Sunday and scored his first touchdown since Week 1. Coincidentally -- or not -- that came a week after Murray expressed some frustration over his lack of touches.
Considering how well things went for the Eagles offense in Week 5, it would be surprising to see Kelly deviate much from that formula. However, he could be forced to if the team regresses in its execution. A few dropped passes here or there, failing to pick up a third down conversion, or turnovers, could all lead to abandoning the run game, much like it did the first quarter of the season.
I don't see that happening against a Giants defense that has been obliterated by injuries. Will Murray top 100 yards rushing for the first time this season? That's a trickier question, and will make for a great over/under next week if Murray gets close without hitting triple digits on Monday night. But I think he'll definitely get the touches to at least have a chance.
The Giants are really good at protecting the ball. Through their first five games, they've turned the ball over just three times (two interceptions and one fumble lost). The Eagles, on the other hand, have had a nose for creating turnovers (13) on defense and have forced multiple in all but one of their games this season, including two games in which they forced four each.
Manning started the season without throwing an interception through his first three games, but has thrown one in each of his last two games.
I would be shocked if the Giants have a turnover-free night against the Eagles, but it would be equally surprising to see the Giants turn the ball over like the Saints did last week. And given how well the Giants have protected the ball this season, one or two forced turnovers seems like a realistic number for the Eagles defense.
Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin