It all comes down to this! The 10-4 New York Giants are but one win away from their first playoff berth since 2011. Despite coming into tonight’s game on a hot streak, the Giants will face a tough test in traveling to hostile Philadelphia on a short week, where the Eagles will look to play the role of spoilers against their longtime rivals.
Kickoff is set for 8:30 on NBC’s Thursday Night Football.
New York Giants: Offense
Despite picking up a much-needed “W” over the fierce Detroit Lions, the Giants’ offense still left a lot to be desired. Eli Manning did bounce back however with one of his best games of the season, throwing for 2 touchdowns and completing over 70% of his passes. The deep attack is still a work in progress, but wideouts Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard make for a 1-2 punch that is nearly impossible to cover for 60 minutes.
Victor Cruz has not seen too many balls come to him this season, but he would love to pick up a touchdown in Philadelphia tonight, the same spot where he famously tore up his knee over two years ago.
The run game suffered another loss with the season-ending triceps injury to Shane Vereen; look for Paul Perkins to take on a larger role both carrying the ball and as a check-down option.
Philadelphia Eagles: Offense
The Eagles’ offense has been quite inconsistent this season. Rookie QB Carson Wentz has had some brilliant moments, but his overall numbers (13 TD, 13 INT, 78.5 rating) leave him looking like a typical rookie quarterback. Still, the Giants cannot sleep on big number 11 on Thursday Night.
The Eagles have a balanced rushing attack; all four of their backs have averaged over 4.0 yards per carry, and all of them have at least 1 touchdown (Wentz even has 2 rushing TDs). The leader of the group is Ryan Matthews, but Wendell Smallwood and shifty Darren Sproles need to be accounted for.
Philadelphia could be without their top wide receiver, Jordan Matthews, as well as up to 3 offensive linemen due to injury for tonight’s contest.
New York Giants: Defense
The catalyst for the Giants’ success, the Giants’ defense has been stellar from the start. They are the top red zone defense, the third-best third-down defense, and the third-best scoring defense in the NFL. The team has also seen an uptick in the pass rush department, even without star Jason Pierre-Paul.
The Giants’ pass defense is full of stars, including Pro Bowlers Janoris Jenkins and Landon Collins. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Eli Apple have also stepped up down the stretch. The Giants have 14 interceptions on the season, the 8th-best total in the league.
Given less recognition over the course of the season has been the Giants’ run defense. The team is the best in the NFL at average yards per carry against (3.6) and its chief run stuffer, Damon Harrison, leads all linemen in tackles.
The Giants’ defensive versatility will come in handy against the multi-faceted Eagles’ attack.
Philadelphia Eagles: Defense
First-year Head Coach Doug Pederson is known as an offensive coach, but he has also turned around the Eagles’ defense to a respectable squad. Philadelphia doesn’t have too many stars on “D”, but they are good at limiting the opposition on the scoreboard.
The Eagles use an aggressive “Wide 9” style defense, spreading out their linemen and frequently blitzing the gaps. Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, and Connor Barwin will be in Manning’s face all night long if the Giants do not maintain solid gap integrity.
As far as the pass defense is concerned, the Eagles are covered as long as their front is generating pressure. They don’t have the best secondary in the league, but they can hold their own if Manning is uncomfortable in the pocket. If Manning has some time to exploit the holes in the Eagles’ secondary, the Giants can win easily.
New York Giants: Special Teams
Earlier this season, Giants fans were complaining about the lack of quality special teams play. Now, those complaints are a distant memory. Punter Brad Wing has been named the NFL Special Teams Player of the Week for 2 straight weeks, Dwayne Harris has been selected to the Pro Bowl for his outstanding coverage, and Odell Beckham Jr. has busted two punt return TDs that have been called back by penalties.
Philadelphia Eagles: Special Teams
The Eagles are always known for solid special teams. Kicker Caleb Sturgis has missed a few kicks recently, but was money earlier in the year. Punter Donnie Jones only has 6 touchbacks on the year, and return man Darren Sproles is as dangerous as they come.
The Giants never fare well at Lincoln Financial Field, a stadium in which they have lost 5 of their last 7 contests. This will be the Giants’ first road game in 2 weeks, and they are not likely to see the friendly confines of MetLife Stadium again this year (unless they somehow win the NFC East).
Giants teams of the past have been procrastinators and chokers in crunch time, especially in Philadelphia, but this is a new team with a new spirit. It won’t be easy (it never is), but the Giants should be able to grab a victory, sweeping the season series with the Eagles in the process.
27-17, Giants (Record picking Giants games: 10-4)