The New York Giants (10-4) and Philadelphia Eagles (5-9) get their shot at making for a compelling Thursday Night Football game when the bitter-rivals meet tonight at Lincoln Financial Field. Thursday games have been universally panned all season, and for good reason. The average margin of victory on Thursday Night Football is 12.92 points per game and the home team has won nine of the 13 contests.
Giants fans hope to leave ‘compelling’ out of it. Big Blue hasn’t scored 30 points in a game all year and have won 10 by a stress-inducing 1.6 points per contest. A win and New York clinches a playoff berth. A blowout and most can get to bed at a decent hour.
The Giants’ defense has fueled them, but the team’s best cover-corner, Janoris Jenkins, may not be available. Linebacker Jonathan Casillas is also questionable with a knee-injury. If the Giants are going to make a serious playoff run (granted they get in, of course), they’ll need the offense to come around at some point.
It’d be reassuring to see the Giants’ offense go out and win them a game. With injuries on the other side of the ball and playing on a short week, Thursday night is a great place to start producing.
Success will start, as it usually does, up front with the offensive line. The unit was better last week, but week-to-week consistency has been an issue. So has second-year LT Ereck Flowers and the John Jerry/Marshall Newhouse/Bobby Hart trio on the right side.
Enter Eagles’ RT Lane Johnson. Jason Peters may be the first name associated with Philadelphia’s offensive line, but the upstart Johnson has youth on his side. Peters will be 35 in January. Johnson is 26 with his best years still ahead of him.
Peters is like an Apple iPhone — he’s a known-commodity with Hall of Fame credentials but the gap is closing. Johnson represents that gap. He’s the Verizon Moto Z Force Droid with mods — the 6-foot-6, 317-pound tackle is worth the future investment.
The numbers spell out his value. Johnson will play against the Giants in his first game back from a 10-game PED ban. The Eagles are 3-1 when he’s on the field this year and score 28.8 points per game. They went 2-8 without him, scored 8 points per game fewer and lost 6 minutes per game in Time of Possession.
Here’s the case for the rest below.
Carson Wentz, QB
Okay so he isn’t as good he looked back in September, but he’ll only get better. The rookie is completing over 60 percent of his passes and making plays with his feet. He isn’t Eli Manning, but his rookie campaign compares favorably.
Brandon Brooks, RG
Brooks has been a big off-season addition for the Eagles. He’s the sixth-best guard in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus, with an 86.6 grade.
Jordan Hicks, LB
Hicks is one of the most athletic MIKE linebackers in the league. He makes plays against the run and in coverage, as his three interceptions this season demonstrates.
Brandon Graham, DE
Graham was named a Pro Bowl alternate Wednesday. He has 11 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles on the year.
Fletcher Cox, DT
Cox is a pro bowler for the second consecutive year. He has 16 sacks and four forced fumbles over that time, especially impressive for an interior lineman.
Malcom Jenkins, S
Jenkins is still going strong in his eighth season. The New Jersey native has recorded a sack and returned an interception for a touchdown in 2016.