The Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants are scheduled to face off in what has the makings of a huge game on Sunday Night Football. Should the Dallas Cowboys lose on the road to the Seattle Seahawks this week, which is certainly possible, the Eagles and Giants will both be playing for the lead in the NFC East.
There has been a lot of trash talk from both sides leading up to this game. The bad blood is apparent. But what matters most, obviously, is the on-the-field match-ups. So with game-day fast approaching, let's take a look at the match-ups.
Eagles Offense vs. Giants Defense
As mentioned earlier in the week, this is the perfect time for quarterback Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy to step up. The team has been able to win ugly in previous weeks despite less than stellar performances from two of the team's most critical offensive players. With so much to play for, Foles and McCoy really need to bring their A-game on Sunday night.
Execution has been a major issue with the Eagles offense. It's not just about other teams figuring Chip Kelly out. It's not just about lacking a deep threat in DeSean Jackson. Those may be legitimate factors, yes. But alone they are not solely responsible for Philadelphia's offensive struggles. There are still plays to be made. Wide receivers are getting open. Foles isn't making the right read or getting the ball there. Running room is not always there for McCoy due to a banged up offensive line, but there are opportunities where he needs to run hard and make defenders miss. The good news with execution errors is that they can be corrected. The bad news is that the team is stuck struggling until the fixes finally happen.
New York's defense will present a challenge for the Eagles offense.The G-men will look to attack the weakened interior of the Eagles offensive line due to the injuries of left guard Evan Mathis and center Jason Kelce. Fill-in center David Molk will have his hands full with Giants defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins.
Foles will be challenged not only by the Giants' pass rush but a secondary that features a number of talented players. Prince Amukamara and Dominique-Rodgers Cromartie will line up on the outside against Philadelphia's wide receivers. Foles won't be able to get away with bad throws. He needs to be sharp and work the middle of the field where the Giants linebackers are a little more exposed. Tight end Zach Ertz could prove crucial in this game.
2nd in points per game (31.2), 3rd in points per play (.457), 14th in yards per game (364.4), 19th in yards per play (5.3), 14th in third down percentage (42.86%), 32nd in giveaways (12)
Football Outsiders: 22nd in DVOA, 19th in pass offense, 28th in run offense
Pro Football Focus: 23rd overall, 28th in pass offense, 30th in run offense, 28th in pass block, 8th in run block
16th in points per game (22.2), 17th in points per play (.364), 18th in yards per game (364), 27th in yards per play (6.0), 3rd in third down percentage (32.79%), tied 5th in takeaways (10)
Football Outsiders: 7th in DVOA, 8th in pass defense, 13th in run defense
Pro Football Focus: 1 overall, 5th in pass rush, 5th in pass coverage, 2nd in run defense
Eagles Defense vs. Giants Offense
Philadelphia's defense has been up and down in recent weeks. The overall product isn't terrible but there are definitely moments of weaknesses. The Eagles defense allowed 21 straight unanswered points to Austin Davis and the St. Louis Rams in Week 5. That comeback almost allowed the Rams to steal the game away before the Eagles ultimately made a defensive stop when it counted.
New York's revamped offense will certainly be more of a test for the Eagles defense. Eli Manning and the Giants wide receivers, including first round pick Odell Beckham Jr., will look to attack a subpar Eagles secondary. Philadelphia's pass rush will face a big challenge going against a New York offensive line that has held up pretty well so far. The Eagles have recorded 8 sacks in the past two weeks so this will be a good test for that unit.
Giants starting running back Rashad Jennings has been ruled out and he will be replaced by rookie rusher Andre Williams. Williams isn't much of a threat to catch the ball but he runs very hard. Philadelphia's banged up linebacker corps (Mychal Kendricks out, DeMeco Ryans questionable) will be tested. That same unit will also have to find a way to keep big tight end Larry Donnell in check. Donnell has been a monster for New York in the red zone.
25th in points per game (26.4), 15th in points per play (.356), 28th in yards per game (406.2), 15th in yards per play (5.5), 10th in third down percentage (39.19%), tied 13th in takeaways (9)
Football Outsiders: 16th in DVOA, 21st in pass defense, 8th in run defense
Pro Football Focus: 11th overall, 13th in pass rush, 14th in pass coverage, 10th in run defense
9th in points per game (26.6), 10th in points per play (.392), 19th in yards per game (344.6), 27th in yards per play (5.1), 16th in giveaways (7)
Football Outsiders: 14th in DVOA, 17th pass offense, 14 run offense
Pro Football Focus: 2nd overall, 9th in pass, 8th in run, 2nd in pass block, 10th in run block
Philadelphia unquestionably has the edge when it comes to special teams. The Eagles have scored four special teams touchdowns already and this unit doesn't show signs of slowing down. That's not to say the touchdowns can be counted on, but the unit is legitimately good. A number of contributors such as Chris Maragos, Bryan Braman, Trey Burton, James Casey, Brandon Bair, returner Darren Sproles, kicker Cody Parkey have all proven to be worthwhile contributors. On the other hand, Philadelphia will be missing both Brad Smith and Chris Polk. In any case, the Eagles will look to keep the magic going against a subpar New York special teams unit. Dave Mangels wrote earlier why it wouldn't even be surprising to see the Eagles block another punt this weekend.
Eagles special teams
3rd in punt return average (15.9), 2nd in kick return average (30.9)
15th in punt return average allowed (8.0), 14th in kick return average allowed (21.9)
Football Outsiders: 1st
Pro Football Focus: 3rd
Giants special teams
21st in punt return average (6.6), 25th in kick return average (20.8)
29th in punt return average allowed (14.0), 4th in kick return average allowed (18.0)
Football Outsiders: 23rd
Pro Football Focus: 22nd
This game should tell us a lot about the Philadelphia Eagles. It's a must-win game. If they are truly as good as their 4-1 record says they are, they will need to prove it on Sunday night.