It’s always sunny in Philadelphia, but it hasn’t been sunny at all for the New York Giants so far this season.
With high preseason expectations long forgotten, the Giants face perhaps the earliest must-win game they’ve had in awhile, as they face off against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday afternoon (1:00 PM, FOX).
The Giants (0-2) are coming off two losses in prime time to open the year, the most recent being Monday’s 24-10 loss to the Detroit Lions in their home opener.
New York struggled on offense once more, picking up just 270 yards and 14 first downs. In the process, the Giants wasted another solid defensive effort, as the Lions only mustered 12 first downs and 257 yards, only 122 of which came from quarterback Matthew Stafford’s arm.
— New York Giants (@Giants) September 23, 2017
Detroit, however, used five sacks and an interception to their advantage, setting up manageable field position for Stafford’s two touchdown passes. The Giants did manage their first touchdown of the year when Eli Manning found tight end Evan Engram for an 18-yard yard score on the second quarter’s first play, the first score of Engram’s career.
Meanwhile, the Eagles (1-1) are likewise coming off a loss, as they fell 27-20 to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday afternoon in Missouri. Quarterback Carson Wentz put up 388 yards of total offense (333 passing, 55 rushing) and threw for two scores in the losing effort. Philadelphia defeated Washington in their season-opening game in Landover.
Season Series History
This latest chapter of the storied Giants-Eagles rivalry will serve as Philadelphia’s home opener. That’s not a good sign for the Giants, as Lincoln Financial Field has been a house of horrors for them, especially in recent times.
Including postseason, the Giants are 6-9 at the stadium dubbed “The Linc”, losing their past four visits. They did manage to end an overall four-game losing streak to the Eagles with a 28-23 win at MetLife Stadium last November, but dating back to December 2008, the Giants are just 4-14 against the hated Eagles.
The recent success has allowed the Eagles to close the gap in the series, as the Giants currently lead it 85-81-2. The two teams split their yearly set last season, as Philadelphia won 24-19 at home in a Thursday night thriller in the penultimate week of the season.
Despite the recent one-sided nature of the series, the Giants and Eagles also seem to host a thrilling matchup. The past three meetings, as well as five of the past seven, have been decided by one possession.
Notably, the last time a Giants overtime game went past ten minutes (which, under an adjusted rule, would now result in a tie) was back in September 2006 against the Eagles, which also served as Philadelphia’s home opener. In that game, the Giants made up a 24-7 fourth quarter deficit, earning a win when Manning found Plaxico Burress for a 31-yard score late in the overtime period.
The Competitive Edge
Key Matchup to Watch: S Landon Collins vs TE Zach Ertz
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Giants have had trouble covering tight ends this season, as Jason Witten and Eric Ebron have each scored touchdowns in the early going.
Collins, despite the loss, was particularly proud he didn’t allow Ebron to earn any receptions while covering, getting involved in a mild Twitter war with Ebron earlier this week. Collins has a bigger challenge awaiting this week in the form of Ertz, who has likewise earned praise throughout the Giant locker room.
Last season, Ertz caught all 10 balls thrown to him in the two Giant games, tallying 130 yards. Ertz also achieved his career high against Big Blue, picking up 152 yards in a January 2016 win, again catching all nine targets. Philadelphia has picked up new offensive weapons in Alshon Jeffrey, LeGarrette Blount and Torrey Smith, but if they can neutralize the sneaky Ertz, it can go a long way toward a first victory.
|Giants||LB BJ Goodson||Shin||Out|
|Giants||T Bobby Hart||Ankle||Out|
|Giants||LB JT Thomas||Groin||Out|
|Giants||CB Janoris Jenkins||Ankle||Questionable|
The Giants Will Win If….
They score and hold the ball.
Through two games, the Giants have mustered a mere 13 points and have held the ball for an average of 26 minutes of game time. They have a great defense, but not strong enough to overcome numbers that bad. The offense needs to pick up the slack and get back to basics.
They need to protect Eli Manning and go on a methodic drive that leads to points. They’ve shown they’ve been able to do that, particularly on drives that open the second half, but they need to establish offensive consistency. If they can’t score, at least hold the ball for longer and give the defense a rest.
The special teams unit can also help out. Last week, two major gaffes, a kickoff out of bounds and a 37-yard punt, set the opponent up in prime territory for scores, and another, a Detroit 88-yard punt return for a touchdown, more or less sealed their fate.
The Giants can’t survive with just one facet running smoothly. Coming out of this 0-2 hole is going to be a team effort, and all three units need to play their part.
The Eagles Will Win If…
They turn up the pressure.
The Eagles’ modern success against the Giants is a result of strong defensive line play, pressuring Eli Manning and forcing him into bad decisions.
The Giants have spoken all week about the Eagles’ tough front line…anchored by defensive end Brandon Graham and tackle Fletcher Cox…and a mix of the Eagles’ defensive line and the Giants’ maligned offensive front could be a disaster waiting to happen.
In addition, Philadelphia boasts a diverse run game, with LeGarrette Blount joining Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood.
The Giants have been mostly passable as a run defense this season, limiting the truly backbreaking runs, but their current average of 133 yards allowed through the first two games, is a far cry from where this unit was last season. They face a big challenge in containing the Eagles’ rushers.
You never want to break out the term “must-win” before the Rangers face-off, but the Giants may very well face one this week. But while righting the ship is possible–with a defense like the Giants’, few things aren’t–on the road against Philadelphia against an angry Eagles team probably isn’t the place.
With one or two lucky breaks, the Eagles could very well be 2-0 entering Sunday’s match, while you can’t even come close to saying the same thing about the Giants.
The differences in front lines will also haunt the Giants, another reminder they should’ve spent more time on the blockers this offseason. There will still be time to fix things after this game, but at this moment, it’s hard to imagine a different result just yet.
Eagles 21, Giants 13