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Eagles opposing player to stop, Week 16 edition

NFL: NFC Divisional Round-New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

It has to be a New York “Thing.” Maybe something in the water. New York football is offensive to their fans this season since neither the Jets nor the Giants are very offensive on the field. The Jets are dead last in offense, averaging an NFL-low 255.1 yards a game, and right above them at No. 31 are the Giants (261.7).

The NFC East-rival Giants are the perfect panacea for what is ailing the freefalling Eagles right now, a gift-wrapped Christmas cure on Monday at 4:30 p.m. at the Linc to stop the Eagles’ three-game losing streak.

The one and only problem is the Giants still have Saquon Barkley, who has the ability to break a game open. The other problem is the Eagles’ defense is leaking—especially against the run. Though the Eagles are ranked No. 7 in the NFL overall against the run, giving up 94.4 yards a game, over the last three games, they have given up an average of 128 yards rushing a game during their losing streak, and over their last five games, an average of 145 yards rushing a game. They have been gouged by the likes of Seattle’s Kenneth Walker III, who ran through them for 86 yards—his third-highest game total this season, San Francisco’s Christian McCaffrey torched them for 93 yards and Bills’ quarterback Josh Allen ripped them for 81 yards.

Barkley, 26, is in his sixth NFL season and there is some tarnish there. He’s rushed for 797 yards this season, averaging 4.1 yards a carry, with three TDs, while catching 33 passes on 46 targets for 206 yards and four TDs. Stopping Barkley will be the priority. Quarterback Tommy DeVito is a great, local story, coming out of Don Bosco Prep, where he says his rivalry game against Bergen Catholic was more hostile than what he will face at the Linc on Monday.

The Eagles have talent and history on their side here. They are 90-86-2 all-time against the Giants. Philadelphia owns a four-game winning streak against the Giants, and have won 12 of the last 14 games. Barkley has not fared much better recently against the Eagles, with a career 489 yards rushing on 97 carries for an average of 5 yards a carry. Though, he has not rushed for over 100 yards against the Eagles since his rookie season, when he went off for 130 in his first career game against Philadelphia and followed that up by rushing for 101 in 2018. The Eagles have outscored the Giants 97-30 over the last three games, including the 38-7 NFC playoff romp last season, beating the Giants by an average of 32.3 to 10.

“I don’t think that sits well in anybody’s stomach,” Barkley told the media on Thursday. “I don’t think that sits well if you’ve been here for a long time, especially the guys that have been here the longest, (wide receiver) Shep(ard Sterling), myself. We hate saying that we hate answering the questions, ‘How would it feel to win in Philly’ or to not beat Philly. We’re sick and tired of it.

“The only way we are going to change that is by going out there and winning a game. For some reason, that’s been a team, and Dallas, those have been the two teams that we struggle to beat over the last couple of years, the last decade to be honest and if we want to get to where we want to be, those are teams we got to start beating and that’s just the facts.”

As a team, the Giants are No. 31 in the NFL in yards per play, averaging 4.2 yards. Arizona, the Eagles’ next opponent, averages an NFL-low 4.1 yards per play. Defensively, the Giants are pretty bad in that metric, too, allowing opponents an average of 5.6 yards a play, which is ranked No. 26 overall in the NFL. The Eagles, however, are not much better, at No. 22, giving up 5.4 yards a play.

Barkley and the Giants will surely get a great Christmas welcome by the Eagles and their nervous fanbase.

The last time the Giants beat the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field was 10 years, two coaches and one Super Bowl ago, 15-7, on five Josh Brown field goals against the 3-5 Chip Kelly-led Eagles on Sunday Oct. 27, 2013. Since then, the Eagles are 16-3 against the Giants. Other than breaking a decade-old home winning streak, an Eagles’ loss to the pitiful Giants would be monumental at this stage of the season.


Joseph Santoliquito is a hall of fame, award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has written feature stories for SI.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, MLB.com, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project piece for ESPN.com called “Love at First Beep.” He is most noted for his award-winning ESPN.com feature on high school wrestler A.J. Detwiler in February 2006, which appeared on SportsCenter. In 2015, he was elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

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