Amazing as it may seem to many fans of the New York Giants, but Big Blue is -- as of this writing -- favored to beat the suddenly skidding Philadelphia Eagles.
The last time these two teams met, it wasn't pretty. Victor Cruz was tragically lost for the season, and the offensive line, which had been playing well, completely imploded. No lineman had a worse day than Justin Pugh, who was repeatedly beaten by linebacker Connor Barwin.
The Giants are looking to end a rough season on a high note by completing a four-game winning streak at home, and cementing a four-game losing streak for their division rivals. If they want to do that, they'll need all of their offensive linemen to play much, much better than they did in Week 6.
That week Pugh had what might have been his worst game as a pro, compounded by bad games by John Jerry and J.D. Walton. He failed so badly, that looking back it led some to believe that he was injured long before he left the game early in Week 11 with a quad injury.
If a team can slow down their pass rush, the Eagles' defense is vulnerable to both the run and the pass. Andre Williams has had two 100-plus yard games in the last three weeks, including against a stout St. Louis front seven. And in the passing game, if Odell Beckham isn't the best receiver in the NFL, he is certainly playing on par with the top five. But for those two to produce, the Giants will need to keep the Eagles out of their backfield. That means dealing with Barwin, who is their leading pass rusher. And that task will mostly fall to Justin Pugh.
Beckham might be must-see TV, and the Giants' defense needs to stop the Eagles' run game. But if the Giants want to win, they need the threat of a running game and give Eli the chance to get the ball to his receivers. For that to happen, Pugh and the rest of the Giants offensive line will need to keep the Eagles out of the Giants' backfield.