Photo Source: Michael Perez, Associated Press
When the NFL season began, no one expected the NFC East to be the best division in football. Similarly, no one expected it to be as bad as it is. The four teams in the division combine for a grand total of five wins. Through six weeks, the Eagles and Giants have only one win each. Normally, I’d say it’s probably ok to miss this game. But, seeing as in it’s Thursday night football (no other games are on) and the fact that both teams are so bad this is basically must-watch television, you might want to tune in. Or not. If you do decide to tune in, the following are five key questions worth considering:
Injury Tracker: How Many More Starters Will The Eagles Lose?
In a sport as physical and violent as football, injuries are bound to happen. They have the potential to derail a season and make everyone on the team look worse than they actually are. However unfortunate they may be, injuries are something every team in the NFL has to deal with and they need to plan accordingly. But, there comes a point where no level of preparedness or positional depth can prepare you for the number of injuries a team like the Eagles have sustained.
During last week’s game against the Baltimore Ravens, on defense, the Eagles were missing two defensive starters. Corner Avonte Maddox and Linebacker Duke Reilly were both sidelined with injuries. But don’t let the phrase "only two" fool you! While defensively the Eagles are only missing two starters, they are missing several of their depth pieces. Guys who, if the starters get hurt, can play decently. Needless to say, the defense is only a few injuries away from essentially collapsing.
On offense last week, the Eagles were down to only 2(!) of their projected starters from the beginning of the season. QB Carson Wentz & Center Jason Kelce were the only offensive starters left standing. Mind you, it’s not like they were on their second-string options for some of these positions. In some cases, the Eagles were down to their third or fourth string options at some key positions. Take, for example, the right guard position. Brandon Brooks was projected to be the starter before tearing his Achilles before the season even started. Nate Herbig was slated to start in his place but he was eventually moved over to left guard after the starting left guard, Isaac Seumalo was placed on Injured Reserve. Third-string right guard, Matt Pryor was then placed on the COVID List. Leaving the Eagles with Jamon Brown, who was signed off the Cincinnati Bears practice squad only a month ago. As of about an hour ago, Brown just got cut by the Eagles. So maybe Pryor gets activated from the Covid list? Who knows? The Eagles offense is decimated by injuries and they can have a real effect on the outcome of Thursday nights game.
Can The Giant’s D-Line Feast?
The Giants defensive line is perhaps the best positional group the team possesses. Through six games, they have racked up 15 sacks and have allowed only 79 rushing yards per game. Combine this with the fact that Carson Wentz is the most sacked QB in the league right now (he’s been sacked 25 times), and you have an interesting situation. Even the Eagles head coach, Doug Pederson, acknowledged that the GIant's D-line was formidable when he said "This defensive line, again, is a challenge for our offensive line. They’re big and physical inside, and they can, again, they can put pressure on the quarterback, and they can shut the run game down" during this weeks press conference (quote retrieved from Alexis Chassen, BleedingGreenNation).
This game can prove to be a career matchup for everyone along the Giant’s D-Line and any blitz packages Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham brings. The Eagles hobbled O-line will certainly have their hands full (does that count as a pun?) on Thursday night.
How Many Times will Daniel Jones Turnover the ball?:
I won’t lie when I say I openly laughed when Dave Gettelman selected Danny Dimes with the sixth overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. I wasn’t sold on him then and I’m still not sold on him. So far this season, Jones has six interceptions and has fumbled the ball four times. Yet, he only has three touchdowns. According to the NFL’s QB Index, heading into week 6 Jones was ranked 30th out of the 32 starting QB’s. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to be able to surmise that Jones isn’t playing at, or even close to, a high level.
As any football fan knows, the less time your defense is on the field the better. If the Eagles are able to create turnovers on defense, whether through good play or costly mistakes by Jones, then they have a good shot at winning this game. But, if Danny Dimes can minimize turnovers and keep the Giants offense on the field for long stretches of time, it might be just enough to overcome a defense will several issues.
Can Doug Pederson Continue His Thursday Night Win Streak?:
Two things all Philly fans know about Doug Pederson; The man loves Haagen-Daaz and he has never lost a Thursday Night Primetime Match in his career as head coach. Since becoming the Eagles head coach in 2016, Doug Pederson is 5-0 on Thursday nights. Interestingly enough, two of those five wins have come against the New York Giants. Whenever it seems like the Eagles are completely battered and they have no shot at winning, Pederson is able to rally the troops and make a comeback. That’s been the identity of this team since his tenure as head coach. Pederson has a tough job ahead of him. As mentioned earlier, only two out of the eleven offensive starters remain healthy. But, if there’s a head coach that can pull off a win given those circumstances, it’s Pederson on a Thursday night.
Wait, Giants Head Coach Joe Judge Is From Philly?:
Yeah, I just found this out too. The guy was born and raised in Philly so there's a cool homecoming storyline about this game, for Judge at least. Philly fans won't care at all that he's from Philly. They'll still give him a rather... unfriendly welcome.
I’m the Philly guy for this blog so of course, I’m going to be biased towards the Eagles. I think this is a close game. Ugly, but close. Ultimately, though, I believe the Eagles best the NY Giants 21 to 17. The Eagles have a lot of fight in them, and knowing that they can still win the division will bring out the best in them.
Bang Bang Bird Gang