Both the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles face uncertain futures.
In the present, they’ll continue their long-standing rivalry at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, as the Giants host their penultimate home game of the 2017 season (1:00 PM, FOX).
Long eliminated from playoff contention, the Giants (2-11) are looking at their long term future, as the first game in the post-Ben McAdoo era ended in a 30-10 defeat at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys last weekend.
New York kept pace with Dallas for a majority of the game, entering the fourth quarter in a 10-10 tie, but a trio of Dallas touchdowns, two by running back Rod Smith, put the game out of reach. Tight end Rhett Ellison had the Giants’ lone six-pointer, catching a one-yard pass from quarterback Eli Manning, who enjoyed a warm reception after returning to his customary spot of Giants starting quarterback.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia (11-2) is looking at the more immediate future, as they sealed their playoff berth in a 43-35 road win over the Los Angeles Rams last Sunday, a win that also clinched them their first NFC East title since 2013.
However, the celebration was bittersweet, as their MVP-contending quarterback Carson Wentz, who threw for four touchdowns and 291 yards in the win, suffered a season-ending injury. In his place will step Nick Foles, previously an Eagles starts from 2012-14.
Season Series History
Sunday will mark the 170th meeting between the Giants and Eagles. New York has the better mark, sporting an 85-82-2 tally, but the Eagles have closed in with recent success. Dating back to December 2008, the Giants are just 4-15 against the Eagles, including 2-8 at home.
The Giants were able to temporarily stem the bleeding last season in East Rutherford, taking a 28-23 decision. Odell Beckham Jr. had two touchdowns, half of Manning’s four scoring throws on the day, while two Wentz interceptions set up Giants scores. The Giants buckled down when Philadelphia entered their territory, limiting them to two touchdowns.
Back in September, the teams played a thriller at Lincoln Financial Field, a 27-24 Eagles victory. The Giants erased a 14-0 deficit with 24 fourth quarter points, but were unable to maintain a pair of brief leads they took late in the frame. After a Jake Elliott field goal tied the game at 24 with 51 seconds to go, a Giants three-and-out led to a short Brad Wing punt that set the Eagles up at their own 38. Wentz found Alshon Jeffery at the New York 43, setting up Elliott’s long game winner from 61 yards out as time expired. Manning threw for 366 yards and two scores in defeat.
The Competitive Edge
Key Matchup To Watch: RB Jay Ajayi vs the Giants Run Defense
September’s showdown at The Linc was perhaps the first huge sign that 2017 wasn’t going to be the Giants’ year. The defense, which bailed a struggling offense at several points last season, let up a whopping 193 yards rushing, with Wendell Smallwood and LeGarrette Blount respectively accumulating 71 and 67 each. That was after the Eagles lost Darren Sproles in the same game, and before they acquired Jay Ajayi in a deadline deal with Miami.
The Giants’ defensive personnel has remarked all week about what Ajayi can add to an already explosive unit.
“(Ajayi brings) a different dynamic that they may not have had there in a while,” explained defensive tackle Damon Harrison. “He’s a big, powerful guy, but he also has the breakaway speed.”
“He’s always been an explosive, hard runner. The problem is, he can makes something out of nothing,” added defensive end Olivier Vernon, Ajayi’s teammate in Miami in 2015. “He adds depth to the running game as far making things happen out of nothing. It’s going to be a problem just to contain him.”
Ajayi had just 29 carries in his first four games with Philadelphia, but broke out with 15 in Los Angeles, tallying 78 yards. Since joining the Eagles, he has put up 307 on 44 touches, good for a whopping 6.9 average.
With Wentz down, Ajayi’s prescience takes on even greater importance, as Philadelphia can take a lot of pressure offFoles by having him hand off. The Giants, who will likely be without yet another elite defender, as Landon Collins is doubtful, need channel their 2016 selves, when their run defense ranked third in football.
|Giants||S Nat Berhe||Hamstring||OUT|
|Giants||S Landon Collins||Ankle||DOUBTFUL|
|Giants||CB Brandon Dixon||Heel/Hamstring||QUESTIONABLE|
|Giants||WR Roger Lewis||Ankle||QUESTIONABLE|
|Giants||WR Travis Rudolph||Hamstring||QUESTIONABLE|
|Eagles||G Stefan Wisniewski||Ankle||QUESTIONABLE|
The Giants Will Win If…
They win the fourth quarter.
Obviously the results leave much to be desired, but over their recent endeavors, the Giants have kept games close for 45 minutes.
Over their past three games, the Giants were tied entering the fourth quarter against the Cowboys and Redskins, and trailed the Raiders 10-7 in the remaining contest. However, they’ve been outscored 48-10 in the final frame over these past three.
The Eagles will be somewhat reeling, trying to get accustomed to the quarterback they hope will refuel their Super Bowl run, meaning the Giants can certainly keep things close for the first three portions. If they can add the final 25 percent and be motivated to play a slight spoiler for arguably their biggest rivals, an improbable victory may be in store for the brave willing to venture into the East Rutherford cold.
The Eagles Will Win If…
Foles does his job.
Obviously, Nick Foles is not Carson Wentz. All week, Giants players have referred to Wentz as a “magician” under center, and considering it’s not 2013 anymore, the same can’t be applied to Foles, who has since become a reliable backup after stints in St. Louis and Kansas City.
He came in and managed the game well against the Rams, including a gutsy pass to Nelson Agholor that sealed things up. If he can do the same over a whole game, and find assistance from a run game that, again, torched the Giants for nearly 200 yards in their first meeting (and that was before they added Ajayi and after they lost Darren Sproles in the same game), the Eagles can coast. Foles won’t be relied upon to win this game, so as long as he avoids the proverbial trap, he should be fine.
Divisional rivalry games, no matter the record, always tend to be close, especially in the legendary NFC East. Obviously, no one is Philadelphia wanted to see Wentz go down, but if it had to happen, going into a game against the 2-11 Giants, who are missing major members of their secondary, is at least convenient timing for backup Foles to get used to the grind of NFL quarterbacking again.
It’ll take a few drives, but Foles guided the ship against the mighty Rams, so it’s hard to envision much of a drop off against the weary Giants. Expect déjà vu all over again at MetLife Stadium, as the Giants will again keep things close for awhile, but eventually fall in convincing fashion to a rival that’s leaps and bounds ahead of them.
Eagles 23, Giants 7