So the Chicago Cubs break out of a championship drought going back to 1908???
Bully for them… and bully for us as the Eagles contemplate a playoff run of their own in 2016…
The Eagles at Giants game coming up this weekend is going to require an analysis of offsetting trends if you are handicapping or betting this contest.
New York began the week as a three-point favorite, but the betting line has since dropped to 2.5 points, indicating that the Eagles are the slightly better team on a neutral field.
But looking at the last two games played by each team, it’s a mixed bag— there are some things getting better for each team, and some things getting worse.
From the Giants’ point of view, head coach Ben McAdoo was glad to see a lot of new faces when the Giants returned to the practice field on Monday. That included rookie safety Darian Thompson, who missed the last five games with a foot injury. The third-round draft choice practiced on a limited basis. Tackle Marshall Newhouse, who has not played since Week 2 due to a calf injury, worked with the training staff on the side for the first time. The Giants, who made significant changes this offseason to address injuries, hope they are getting healthy at the right time.
The Giants are getting healthier…“It’s been up and down. You have injuries in football,” NYG general manager Jerry Reese said. “I don’t think it’s been as devastating as it has been in the past. We’re hoping to get some guys back after this Bye. Sunday, we’ll have some more players out there to pick from to get on the 46-man roster for the weekend. We have some guys that we’re going to take slow and make sure they’re ready to go.”
Coming off a season in which the Giants ranked sixth in scoring, they are averaging just 19 points per game (tied with Baltimore for 26th) as the NFL reaches the midway point of the season. That’s a full touchdown and extra point less than what the Giants put up each week in 2015. Similarly, they have gone from eighth to 19th in total yards and 19th to last place in rushing yards. Passing yards have remained steady as Manning is on pace for his third consecutive season with at least 4,400 yards, but he’s thrown only eight touchdowns in seven games.
“I think we have a variety of areas we can grow in and improve in,” McAdoo said. “I think we’re just scratching the surface. We haven’t performed as well as we’d like to perform. Everything is correctable.”
The New York Giants (4-3) are coming off their Bye week and had won two consecutive games with the “good” Eli showing up and showing off a more effective passing attack, and a defense that seems to be finding its way despite a bunch of early injuries and missing pieces.
The Eagles (4-3) have a lot to prove against the Giants to remain relevant in the NFC East divisional race.
“Our focus has to be on finding a way to beat the Giants,” middle linebacker Jordan Hicks said. “We know how good they are and all the weapons they bring to the table. We have to play our best football to beat them.”
“There are things to work on,” admits Dave Spadaro at PE.com. “It’s about starting fast and finishing strong and the Eagles haven’t done either consistently since opening the season 3-0. They’ve got an offensive line that starts two reserves – right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai and left guard Stefen Wisniewski, who gets the call if Allen Barbre is out. [Barbre did not practice on Wednesday]…They need to become more explosive in the passing game, more consistent in the running game, condense their mistakes, make more third-down conversions and score more touchdowns in the red zone…And on defense, they must put together four quarters of domination…”
Good luck with that last “must do” item on Dave’s list— instead of defensive domination of the Giants, I’d realistically settle for more timely containments to minimize chunk plays, strategic pressure packages which keep Eli guessing, and an emphasis on protecting field position to make life a little better for our own offense.
The Eagles’ passing offense has been steadily decaying. Last Sunday against Dallas, Carson Wentz only attempted one pass that traveled over 15 yards (an incompletion) and registered a season-low 4.7 yards per attempt.
The Giants’ defense has been steadily improving against the pass. Here are three of the reasons, with Tim McManus of ESPN.com providing the descriptive write-ups:
DE Jason Pierre-Paul: “He may not be the same player he once was before the Fourth of July weekend fireworks accident last year, but Pierre-Paul can still play. Offenses need to account for him. Despite only registering 1.5 sacks, he is near the league lead in pressures and has seven quarterback hits. Pierre-Paul also remains stout against the run whether the Giants use him on the right or left side of their defensive line. He started the season at left defensive end, but has played more on the right side against the opposition’s left tackle in recent weeks, in part because of fellow defensive end Olivier Vernon’s injured wrist.”
S Landon Collins: “He’s evolved into the top playmaker on the Giants’ defense. He’s their leading tackler and his interception return for a touchdown against the Rams showed what he can do with the ball in his hands. But it’s near the line of scrimmage that Collins does most of his damage. He’s a weapon with his speed and power when he’s able to play in the box. The Giants aren’t afraid to use him as a blitzer, either. Collins leads the team with 2.0 sacks. He’s also improved as a pass defender, even if it remain the weakness in his game.”
CB Janoris Jenkins: “He’s been the Giants’ best and most consistent player over the first seven weeks of the season. The offseason acquisition has shut down some top receivers with his physical style and made plays. He has a pair of interceptions and is tied for ninth in the NFL with 10 passes defended. Jenkins has even tackled well and been an asset against the run. With cornerbacksDominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Eli Apple both closer to full strength with another week to rest their groin injuries and with Jenkins playing at such a high level, this should be the strength of the team.”