November 24, 2018
On Sunday, the 4-6 Eagles host the 3-7 Giants in a game they'll need if they hope to salvage what is quickly becoming a lost season for the defending Super Bowl champs. The good news is, the Birds have owned their northern neighbors in recent years, winning four straight against the Giants and eight of their last nine.
That's right, a win on Sunday would mean the Giants have beat Eagles just once in the last five seasons and just four times in the last decade.
But none of that matters when it comes to the Eagles making the playoffs this season. They need a win on Sunday in order to get back on the right track after two straight losses. Here's a look at some numbers that can go a long way toward helping that happen in the form of our five weekly over/unders.
A week ago in New Orleans, Carson Wentz played the worst game of his NFL career, throwing three interceptions in a blowout loss to the Saints. After a surprising strong return from a torn ACL, Wentz has come back down to earth since the bye week, but he may need to get back on track Sunday if the Eagles hope to snap their losing streak against the Giants.
While last week's performance doesn't exactly inspire confidence, the good news here is that Wentz played arguably his best game of the season when the Eagles visited MetLife back in Week 6, throwing for three touchdowns in the 34-13 win over the Giants. Furthermore, prior to that Saints loss, Wentz had posted a passer rating of at least 99 in six straight games, including a season-best 122.2 against last time he faced New York.
This bet is off the board due to a case of "Wait, who the hell did you just say is playing cornerback for the Eagles?" Remember when I alluded to Wentz needing to have a good game on Sunday? Well, believe it or not, he may find himself playing catchup against a Giants team that already poses an extremely dangerous weapon in Saquon Barkley (more on him in a bit) and now could be facing an Eagles defense without any cornerbacks you've ever heard of before.
One way Jim Schwartz's defense can help its depleted secondary is by putting some pressure on Eli Manning. The Eagles defense has a long history of making Manning's life miserable, and they may need their best chapter yet on Sunday.
The return of Timmy Jernigan is a big deal for that front four, as it will not only ease some of the pressure off Fletcher Cox, but it will also help the Birds generate pressure without having to blitz an extra defenders. See, as important as it is to get pressure on Eli, it's equally as important to make sure you don't leave Cre'von LeBlanc one-on-with with Odell Beckham Jr. And no, I didn't make that name up.
The Eagles defense is averaging right around 2.5 sacks per game this season, but they were able to bring Manning down four times back in Week 6, largely because they built a large lead and forced the Giants to throw for much of the game. I don't think that's going to be the case again on Sunday, but the return of Jernigan should help. Will it be enough? I don't think so.
Last time these two teams met, Barkley went off for 229 yards on 25 touches — 13 rushes for 130 yards and nine receptions for 99 yards — and one score. And the Eagles didn't seem to have an answer. A few weeks later, Ezekiel Elliott went for 187 yards and a pair of TDs on 25 touches. And last week against the Saints, it didn't really seem to matter who touched the ball, everyone was scoring for New Orleans.
And that begs the question: Can the Eagles defense stop Barkley on Sunday?
Sure, they're getting Jernigan back, but it'll be the same linebackers and an even worse secondary that will have to contain the former Penn State back once he gets past the first level. Do you really trust those guys? And does Schwartz trust them? Because if not, he'll likely be giving the secondary extra help, which could mean yet another big day for Barkley.
Earlier this week, Eagles offensive coordinator Mike Groh admitted that he was having a tough time working new receiver Golden Tate into his game plan. Needless to say, that didn't sit well with Eagles fans who just a few short weeks ago were hoping Tate would be the key to finally jumpstarting a once-feared offensive attack.
Unfortunately, through his first two games, Tate has recorded just eight touches, six of which came in last week's loss to the Saints but netted just 40 yards. Will Carson Wentz call his number more often on Sunday? We'll see, but you kind of get the sense that the Eagles want to begin getting him more involved this season — and they're running out of time to do so.
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