Week 12 Preview: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
Oh what a difference a few weeks can make for the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles. The last time both teams met, it was the Eagles who were soaring high, and the Giants at rock bottom. A month and a half later, it’s New York who look to be surging, while Philadelphia is nosediving down the NFC East.
It’s a must-win game for both teams, as they look to gain ground on the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins. Here are some things to look for on Sunday afternoon from Lincoln Financial Field.
The Saquon Show
Giants head coach Pat Shurmur utilized a new offensive game plan last week agianst the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and that was to feed the ball to rookie Saquon Barkley. And it worked.
Barkley took 27 carries for 142 yards and two touchdowns on the ground against a lackluster Tampa Bay defense. As a result, an enormous amount of pressure was taken off Eli Manning, who attempted just 18 passes last week. Barkley’s NFC Offensive Player of the Week performance solidified why the team took him with the second overall pick, and that’s to get the offense rolling on the ground, something the Giants haven’t had since Ahmad Bradshaw.
However, the Eagles will look to have an answer for the rookie. Philadelphia’s run defense ranks 12th in the NFL, as they have allowed 101.4 rushing yards per game. Perhaps the most-telling statistic is they have allowed just eight rushing touchdowns this season, proving to be rather stingy against running backs.
With the success they’ve had last week, it’s highly doubtful the Giants would walk away from that strategy, despite the challenge the Philly rush defense possesses.
Eagles Secondary Clipped
The downward spiral of the Eagles season began once the injuries started piling up in the secondary. The team lost free safety Rodney McLeod due to a torn MCL in September. Then, starting cornerback Ronald Darby suffered a torn ACL in Week 10 against the Cowboys. The Eagles couldn’t afford anymore injuries to the secondary, especially when they were battered at the hands fo the New Orleans Saints.
Entering Week 12, head coach Doug Pederson announced that corners Jalen Mills (foot), Sidney Jones (hamstring), and Avonte Maddox (knee, ankle) would all miss this Sunday’s game. Not to mention Rasul Douglas is listed as questionable due to knee and ankle issues. Yikes.
This is the Giants opporutnity to pounce. The offensive line has thrived ever since the team claimed Jamon Brown from the Los Angeles Rams. In turn, Manning has more time to stand in the pocket, whihc allows him to wait for plays to develop and find the open man. With the laundry list of injuries in Philadelphia’s secondary, it could spell for big days for Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram.
Lack of Giants Pass Rush Could Help Eagles Offense Thrive
While the Eagles have faults in the defensive backfield, the Giants have difficulties in the pass rush.
New York has not been able to get to the quarterback all season long. Even with Olivier Vernon back from a high ankle sprain, the results have been the same. In fact, the Giants have the second-least quarterback sacks this season with 11. Only the Oakland Raiders have a worse pass rush in the entire league (seven). That was a main reason why Tampa Bay were able to pull withing four points last week, as they had essentially no answers for Jameis Winston, who came in relief of Ryan Fitzpatrick.
That could be what the Eagles offense needs, especially during their two-game losing streak. Quarterback Carson Wentz can move on his feet, which could give the Giants defensive front fits trying to chase him. With Wentz’s ability to extend plays, Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, and Golden Tate can post some strong numbers if they are able to break away from New York’s coverage. Let’s not forget how well Jeffery performed in Week 6 against Janoris Jenkins.
Make no mistake about it, Giants vs. Eagles has the potential to be an offensive duel.
Giants-Eagles will kickoff at 1:00 p.m. ET live on FOX.
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