Week 6 Preview: Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Giants
The longstanding rivalry reaches a new chapter, as the Philadelphia Eagles drive up I-95 to face off against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on Thursday night.
Both teams are coming off brutal losses last week, and are looking to redeem themselves. The Eagles were edged out by the Minnesota Vikings at home, while the Giants lost a heartbreaker against the Carolina Panthers. As of Week 5, New York currently owns the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft and if they win on Thursday, they can tie for first place in the NFC East. The Eagles, currently tied for first with the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys, can propel themselves to the top of the division standings with a victory against New York.
Here are some things to keep an eye on during “Thursday Night Football.”
It took the full six-week time frame, but linebacker Olivier Vernon is back after dealing with a high ankle sprain. For the Giants, it couldn’t have come at a better time, as they have had trouble getting to the quarterback. In fact, New York ranks dead last in terms of sacks on the year with just six.
When on the field, Vernon has shown to be a disruptor at the line of scrimmage. He will look to do so against Carson Wentz, who has been sacked 12 times through three games. For the Eagles offensive line, they will try and prevent Vernon from getting to Wentz.
Life Without Jay Ajayi
The Eagles were dealt a huge blow on Monday, as the team placed starting running back Jay Ajayi on the injured reserve due to a torn ACL. It didn’t end there for Philadelphia, as Darren Sproles was ruled out for Thursday, as he’s still dealing with a hamstring injury.
So without both top rushers for this week, the Eagles will rely heavily on Glassboro, NJ native Corey Clement. The second-year running back is not only known for his elusiveness, but also for his ability to catch out of the backfield. Behind him on the depth chart will be Wendell Smallwood and rookie Josh Adams. For the three young backs, they have a favorable matchup, as New York’s defense has allowed the sixth-most rushing yards per game this season (124.4).
Can Giants Repeat Strong Passing Performance?
The Giants were heavily criticized in Week 4 for their inability to throw the ball on the New Orleans Saints. Even Odell Beckham Jr. took shots at the conservative play from the coaching staff and quarterback Eli Manning. That caught the ire of head coach Pat Shurmur.
Putting all of that aside, the Giants put on a strong offensive performance against the Panthers. Not only did Manning throw dime passes deep downfield, but so did Beckham, on an impressive trick pass to rookie running back Saquon Barkley.
The method to offensive success has been laid out, as they face a Eagles pass defense that has struggled this season, allowing 276.8 yards through the air. Cornerback Jalen Mills has struggled and the safety position took a hit after Rodney McLeod suffered a torn MCL.
Manning will not have tight end Evan Engram (knee) or wide receiver Russell Shepard (neck) at his disposal. Yet, he’ll be able to throw to Beckham, Barkley, and Sterling Shepard, who have all been the beneficiary of a majority of Manning’s throws this season.
Wentz’s Will to Win
Carson Wentz is slowly but surely making his way back to his full potential. Wentz played well last weekend against the Vikings, as he completed 68.6 percent of his passes for 311 yards and two touchdowns.
The third-year quarterback will face off against a Giants defense that has allowed just 229.4 passing yards per game, which is the eighth-best in the league. However, if the Carolina game showed anything, it’s that the Giants can be attacked through the air, despite the statistical advantage. While Cam Newton didn’t exactly light up the stat sheet, he was able to get the ball to his receivers, and they took advantage of the Giants’ inability to tackle.
Philadelphia’s passing attack has the potential to do some damage. Wentz has Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, and Jordan Matthews to target at wide receiver. Perhaps their biggest strength is at the tight end position. Between the ever-dangerous Zach Ertz and the rookie on the rise in Dallas Goedert, the Giants secondary will have their hands full with the duo. Wentz has all the tools necessary to succeed on Thursday night, and New York will have to live up to their statistics in order to silence the Eagles offense.
The Eagles-Giants game will take place on Thursday night at 8:20 p.m. ET on FOX, NFL Network, and Amazon Prime.
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