The last time the Eagles played the Giants... it didn’t go so well. Carson Wentz threw interceptions on the Eagles first two drives and Doug Pederson twice decided to go for it on fourth down rather than attempt a field goal. The Eagles lost by 5 points. There was enough criticism to go around for days.
Since then, the two teams have gone down distinctly different paths. The Giants have gone 5-1 and leaped into the top wild card spot, with the NFC East division title and the #1 seed a possibility. The Eagles went 1-5, with an impressive win over the Falcons and then the five game losing streak they are currently on. Could it end tonight?
Maybe. We might know by the end of the first quarter. In four of the Eagles five wins, they have led at the end of the first quarter. In seven of their nine losses, they have trailed. With no downfield threat and no player who can really make plays with the ball in his hands, the Eagles struggle to play from behind. With a ball control offense and aggressive defense, they can control the clock when they have the lead. They are, as Eagles are painfully aware, 0-6 in one score games.
The Giants on the other hand, have three fourth quarter comebacks and five end of game winning drives. Here too they are the opposite of the Eagles as the Giants are 8-2 in one score games.
This would seem to set up a game where the Giants get an early lead, the Eagles claw it back and then the Giants pull out a late drive to seal the win in a one score game. But we already saw that script, and division games tend to go off-script.
This one could easily be that game. Ryan Mathews, who had just three rushing attempts in the first match up, looks to be used a lot more than that. Lane Johnson, suspended for the first match up, is back, though how fit he is remains to be seen. His and the rest of the offensive line’s job will be easier with Jason Pierre-Paul out. Unlike the first Giants game, Leodis McKelvin’s hamstrings seem to be fully functional. Doug Pederson, criticized for not being aggressive enough in the Cowboys game that preceded the first Giants game and then criticized for being too aggressive in the Giants game, has seemed to have learned and improved. And it’s December, so Zach Ertz is probably going to have a good game. And the Eagles, 1-7 on the road, are at home, where they are 4-2.
Everything is set up for a close game, and possibly and upset. But division games are strange beasts, and Thursday night games are odd, and usually bad, games.
Score: Giants 27, Eagles 17
Bold prediction: Nelson Agholor touchdown
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