September 22, 2017
It’s Week 3 in the NFL, and despite last week’s loss to the Chiefs, not all is lost in Eagles Country. With two road games behind them, including a win over Washington in the opener, the Eagles (1-1) sit in first place atop the NFC East. Sure, three teams are there at 1-1, but the Eagles are the only team with a positive point differential, ranking first in points scored (50) and second in points allowed (44). By the end of the season, point differential is often the best indication of how good a team is, even if it isn’t the number that matters most when it comes to making the postseason.
Yes, we know; it’s early. But given the noise surrounding the organization this week, you’d think they were in last place in the division.
That distinction, however, belongs to the team that Doug Pederson and the Birds will host on Sunday in their home opener, the 0-2 New York Giants. Through two games, they lead the division with 43 points allowed, but they’ve scored just 13 points, the third fewest in the NFL behind the Bengals (9) and 49ers (12, although the 49ers exploded for 39 points in a 41-39 loss to the Rams Thursday night). Furthermore, the Giants' minus-30 point differential is also the third worst in the NFL, behind the Colts (-40) and Jets (-34).
Needless to say, that’s not the company Giants fans want to be keeping if they have any hopes of making the playoffs. However, a win over the Eagles on Sunday would shake up the standings in a big way, and if the Cowboys and Redskins both win, the Birds could find themselves quickly in last place in the division, rather than at the top looking down, as they are now.
And whatever you think of the Giants’ struggles, remember this: Don’t let the fact that the Eagles have won five of the last six meetings (and six of the last eight at the Linc) fool you, as all bets are off when these two teams meet up.
TV: FOX | RADIO: 94.1 WIP
SPREAD: Eagles (-6) | TOTAL: 43 (via Bovada)
Here’s how we see Sunday’s game playing out:
It's perhaps a little too easy to simply point to the matchup of the Giants' crappy offensive line vs. the Eagles' (so far) dominant defensive line, but, well, it's kind of hard to get past that, even with the Eagles' banged-up secondary. The Eagles should be able to pressure Eli Manning all day, just as the Cowboys and Lions did in the Giants' first two games.
Offensively, I expect the Eagles to have difficulty sustaining drives due to an ineffective rushing attack that doesn't look like it's getting better anytime soon. However, the Eagles should be able to put points on the board if they can turn the Giants over on defense.
I really don’t like the fact that the Giants lost last week because now they’re a desperate team, or at least as desperate as a team can be heading into the third week of the season. Some people say that kind of stuff doesn’t matter, but I disagree. The Eagles really want to win this game; the Giants need to win it.
Unfortunately for Giants fans – including my editor and one of my best friends who couldn’t even trash talk me when I saw him last weekend – I think the Eagles come away on top this week.
The Giants will be without starting CB Janoris Jenkins, but that’s nothing compared to the Eagles decimated secondary that began to come undone in the Chiefs. Worse yet for the Birds, Odell Beckham is likely to be back on the field – he’s torched the Eagles in the past and could present problems without CB Ronald Darby, S Rodney McLeod and S Jaylen Watkins.
But in order to get him the ball, Eli Manning is going to need time to throw. So far this season, that’s been a problem as he’s been sacked eight times already, tied for the third-most in the NFL (along with Carson Wentz). And the Eagles defense, with eight sacks of its own, could force Manning into some poor decisions – he threw five total picks in their two meetings last year.
Jim Schwartz, who probably could’ve had a successful career as a State Trooper with those shades, is going to be ready with the blitzes…
Jim Schwartz, cool as the other side of the pillow... pic.twitter.com/GmsBiEvgpR— Matt Mullin (@matt_mullin) July 26, 2016
… but I don’t have as much faith in the other guy.
"I don't want a 'Large Farva.' I want a GOD DAMN LITER OF COLA!!" pic.twitter.com/IUrh9sQGEc— Matt Mullin (@matt_mullin) June 13, 2017
Of course, this pick is predicated on the fact that the Eagles actually try to run the ball.