By: Tyri’que Sims
The Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants are both 4-3 and looking up at the Dallas Cowboys who are sitting atop the NFC East. If either team wants a chance of winning the division they’ll have to win Sunday when the division foes clash at Met Life Stadium.
The birds and the G-Men meet for the first time in the 2016 season and New York is a one point favorite at home. Even though both teams share the same record, Philly has been the more impressive team.
Philly is looking to pick up their first win in the NFC East as they’ve dropped two divisional match-ups against Washington and Dallas. The Giants want to stay solid and go 2-1 with their only divisional loss coming from Washington.
The Eagles are coming off a Sunday night overtime loss to Dak Prescott and the Cowboys. Philly had a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, but due to questionable play calling and a turnover, the Cowboys were able to get back into the game late in regulation and eventually win in overtime.
The Giants defeated the Cowboys week one, but have stayed competitive in the division by taking advantage of a weak schedule. Since their week one victory against Dallas the Giants have lost to the Vikings, Packers and Redskins.
Keys to the game for the Giants
Yards after Catch (YAC):
Both the Giants and Eagles rely heavy on yards after catch in their offenses. For Big Blue, more than of its passing yards fall in that category, the third-highest rate in the NFL. Philadelphia is right behind in fourth at 53.1 percent. The Eagles have a league-low 715 air yards entering Week 9. That means the Giants need to keep everything, run and pass — in front of them, something they have done well for the most part this season. The defense has allowed 89 plays of 10 yards or more (eighth-fewest in the league) and 26 of 20 yards or more (tied for 10th).
Get pressure on Wentz:
In the Eagles’ four wins, rookie quarterback Carson Wentz has been sacked an average of one time per game. In their three losses, the No. 2 overall draft pick was sacked nearly four times each outing. The Giants ranked near the bottom in sack totals throughout the first half of the season, but they’re coming off a game in London where they took down Rams quarterback Case Keenum three times. That led to a four-interception day by the defense.
Keys to the game for the Eagles
Establish the running game:
Use Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles to set up the passing game. Doug Pederson has insisted Mathews remains the No. 1 running back in the Eagles backfield, but gave Sproles 15 carries to Mathews’s four in last week’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Mathews averages 3.8 yards per carry, while Sproles is at 5.0. Pederson should use both to wear down the Giants rush defense (which allows 93.6 yards per game) and control time of possession. Both Mathews and Sproles have been productive and provide the Eagles with 3rd-and-manageable situations. The Eagles have converted just 34.8 percent of third downs on the season and under 20 percent on 3rd-and-10 or longer. Running the football will improve that statistic and allow Carson Wentz to throw those short passes to move the chains. A strong run game will set up for big plays downfield. The Eagles will desperately need to convert more plays downfield, they have only converted one over 30 yards in the last three weeks.
Make Eli Uncomfortable:
This hasn’t been a problem over the last few years for the Eagles, no matter the defensive scheme or coordinator. During the Eagles four-game win streak against the Giants, Manning has thrown for 1,071 yards, four touchdowns, three interceptions and has been sacked 11 times. He has a 9-15 career record against the Eagles and has been sacked 52 times, the most from any opponent. Why have the Eagles been so successful against Manning? His inability to escape the pocket and holding the football too long are a main reason for his struggles. The Eagles defense has compiled 22 sacks in just 431 snaps this season under Jim Schwartz, an average of 3.1 sacks a game. The Giants have only allowed 11 sacks this season, but will be facing a pass rush that preys on poor running offenses (70.3 per game).
Eagles win 24-14