You’d love to be confident about a Week 17 “win and you’re in” game against a 4-11 divisional rival. Unfortunately for the Philadelphia Eagles, what looks like a slam dunk on paper is rarely the case over the past two years. And on paper, the New York Giants have been much improved - albeit against sub-par competition - over the past two weeks, resulting in two straight wins and a marked improvement in offensive production.
Before their Week 15 tilt with the Miami Dolphins, the Giants hadn’t put up thirty points on the scoreboard since their Week 3 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. What followed that game with the Bucs was a 9-game losing streak where they averaged 17.7 points per game on offense. Over the last two weeks, they’ve beat up on a couple tomato can defenses for 77 combined points.
One of the responsible players for that uptick is Saquon Barkley, who looks the healthiest he’s been since suffering a high ankle sprain in late September.
Since being held to 68 yards on 20 touches (3.4 avg) in W14 by the Eagles, Saquon Barkley has racked up 422 scrimmage yards on 54 touches (7.8 avg). He might be healthy, folks - pic.twitter.com/sOPWNXPkeo— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) December 27, 2019
Another player getting healthy in time to try and play spoiler is rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. Against Washington, Jones put up 352 passing yards, 5 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. Yes, the Washington defense is bad, but focusing on the film and Jones’ performance shows a quarterback that may have benefited from the time off. For my money it’s the best he’s looked all season.
If Jones can duplicate that success alongside a healthy Barkley, a once toothless offense has a shot to put up points against a schizophrenic Eagles’ defense. Adding to that point, the Giants have gotten Barkley more involved in downfield passing game, including the use of a concept the Eagles have busted against earlier in the season.
The obvious problem for the Giants will be when the Eagles’ offense takes the field. They’ve given up thirty or more points eight times this season and are still regularly experiencing head-scratching busts in the secondary. As such, they’ve give up the sixth most explosive plays through the air this season, a trend that has held steady all year.
The question for the Eagles is how well will their depleted receiving group be able to exploit the glaring weakness of the Giants? The very real possibility of no Zach Ertz means no special shadows, doubles and brackets on key downs and in the red zone. Does that mean it’s time for another career day from Dallas Goedert? Or will it be another relative unknown that steps up when the Eagles need to make a play?
We discuss all that and more on The Kist & Solak Show #164! Listen on the media player below or click here if the player doesn’t load. New to podcasts?! Check out our guide on how to listen and subscribe to BGN! FLY EAGLES FLY!