It feels like we’ve been here before. The Giants show promise in a loss before a big game with a division rival.
Yup, we’ve been here before, and last time I went with sentiment and picked the Giants to win on the road over the Dallas Cowboys. But back then the Giants were only 0-1, just a game behind the rest of the division and presented with a prime opportunity to overcome their early stumbles and be relevant late in the season.
But this time they are 1-4... and a game (and a half) out of the division lead, and somehow STILL have a prime opportunity to overcome their early stumbles and become relevant in the second half of the season.
The Eagles are only 2-3, and haven’t been playing like the reigning Super Bowl champions. They have made mental mistakes on offense, given up more sacks than the Giants (despite having a much more talented offensive line), and just this week lost starting running back Jay Ajayi to a surprise ACL tear. On defense, the Eagles still have a dangerous defensive line, headlined by Fletcher Cox, but they have suspect pass coverage from Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby. The Giants faced similar defenses in the Houston Texans, and fared well in the face of J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Whitney Mercilus, but utterly failed to take advantage of the Saints’ league-worst pass defense.
The question, I think, comes down which Giants’ offense we’ll see. Do we see the conservative, overly risk-averse offense the Giants’ trotted out against the Cowboys and the Saints?
Or do we see something like the aggressive, attacking offense the Giants fielded in the second half against Carolina? I hope we’ll see something like that offense, that the short turnaround will keep the Giants from overthinking things and just going with what they have seen work so far.
However, we haven’t seen any indication that the Giants have learned how to live with, and build on, success. They say they’re close, and I actually get the feeling myself, but I learned my lesson in Week 2.
Final score: Eagles 27, Giants 21
Season record: 2-3
Out of nowhere, the Giants are above the Eagles in DVOA — 19th to 21st overall. It’s close and the Eagles have two games worth of Nick Foles in that sample, so it might not be as close as that would indicate. But either way, the Eagles have been disappointing to start the season.
But they’ve been good in a place where the Giants have struggled — getting pressure on the quarterback. The Eagles rank third in defensive pressure rate and the Giants are 25th in offensive pressure rate allowed. It’s likely the Eagles will get pressure on Eli Manning and how the offense responds to that will be the key. If they stay aggressive and navigate the pressure by still taking shots down the field, the offense has potential. But if the high rate of pressure causes them to go back into the conservative check down direction, there’s not much hope.
Pressure on the defensive side of the ball will impact that matchup, too. The Giants rank 15th in defensive pressure rate, but most of that came against the Houston Texans’ offensive line and pressure has been inconsistent otherwise. But either way, those haven’t turned into sacks — the Giants are 32nd in adjusted sack rate. They’ll get Olivier Vernon back to some extent, so that should help against an Eagles offensive line that has been worse than expected up front. Philadelphia is 26th in pressure rate allowed and Carson Wentz has a 9.0 percent sack rate. But if the defense can’t disrupt that timing, the Eagles might be able to move the ball with some ease — the Giants are 22nd in yards allowed per drive and 26th in points allowed per drive.
Final score: Eagles 24, Giants 17
Season record: 4-1
The 2007 was one of the best of my career covering this team for many reasons. One of the main ones was how after an 0-2 start and after how many people had written that team off, they came together and dominated all the way through to the Super Bowl.
Since then, the Giants have still been searching for that magic where they get written off only to rise from the dead and take the world by storm.
Thus far in 2018, they’ve given the fan base very little reason to believe that this group of new faces, new coaches and a new general manager is finally coming together into a powerhouse.
Then came last week, a hard fought battle against the Panthers (who let’s face it, is a team with its own issues). The Giants battled and almost won the game only to be thwarted by a last second long field goal.
But did that turn of events galvanize this team? That’s one of the questions as they face an Eagles team that this year hasn’t quite looked like the powerhouse that marched all the way to its first Super Bowl victory last season.
The Eagles, much like the Panthers, have some problems—injuries and an offensive line that’s allowed more sacks than the Giants have to name a few.
So what does this all mean for the Giants, who if they don’t win Thursday night might as well kiss their 2018 season goodbye since they’d fall to 0-2 in the division and 1-5 on the year?
It means the Eagles are just as desperate, probably as much as the Giants, who by the way, struggle in prime time games. And when a team is really desperate, well, when has much good come out of that kind of scenario?
With all that said, I’m going to pick the Giants this week—and I assure you that I am of sound mind. I sense the Giants are focused and a lot calmer about what’s in front of them and how to get there, perhaps a little more so than the Eagles, who have a championship title to defend.
Yes, there are match-ups in this game that I don’t like—stopping tight end Zach Ertz, who has back-to-back 100+ receiving yards is one and getting Eagles leading tackler Fletcher Cox blocked is another. But I just have a feeling that the Giants are going to build off of last week in a good way and give their fan base, especially all those disappointed Yankees fans out there, something to celebrate this weekend.
Final score: Giants 28, Eagles 21
Season record: 2-3
Oddly enough the Giants’ best opportunity to right the ship might be against the defending world champion Eagles. This Thursday is perfect timing to catch a struggling and unsuspecting team off guard.
The Giants offense is presented with the most favorable match up they have had all year. Philadelphia’s defensive line is built to stop the run with an under performing secondary. A ton of pass yards will be racked in this game from Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard, and Saquon Barkley. Running against Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox likely will not end well.
On defense, the Big Blue will need to attack a vulnerable Carson Wentz who is still easing his way back from an ACL injury. With Jay Ajayi out for the season, their run game will have little to no juice behind it. If the secondary plays the way they have in the first five weeks, they can keep Wentz and his crew out of the end zone.
Final score: Giants 24, Eagles 18
Season record: 2-3
As disappointing as the Giants have been to start the season, the Philadelphia Eagles aren’t quite looking as formidable as one would expect from reigning Super Bowl champions. Neither team’s offenses are scoring points in droves, with both offensive lines struggling to protect their respective quarterbacks. The Eagles’ run game has been ravaged by injuries, and the defense is neither dominant nor intimidating. There’s an opening here for a Giants win, and I expect a close game with New York coming up victorious. Short weeks are bad for all teams in the NFL but they are worse for the visitors on Thursday night.
Final score: Giants 13, Eagles 10
Season record: 3-2
Conventional wisdom tells us that it is tougher for a team to get back to a Super Bowl after losing a Super Bowl than it is after winning one. In the past 45 seasons only five teams - the 1974 Vikings, the 1987 Broncos, and the Bills in three-straight seasons - even made it back to a Super Bowl.
But recent history is a bit mixed for teams coming off Super Bowl wins. Out of the last 15 Super Bowl Champions only one team, the 2004 Patriots, repeated as Super Bowl Champions. Some teams, like the 2012 Giants, the 2013 Ravens and the 2016 Broncos, missed the playoffs entirely.
My point? The hangover for Super Bowl winners seems to be real, and the Eagles are in the midst of a brutal one. The kind that no amount of Gatorade, Excedrin and greasy food can cure in the short term.
Now the Eagles get to come to MetLife on a short week with questions swirling.
Standing in their way is a Giants squad that might - might - be on the verge of figuring things out on offense. Yes, Eli Manning threw two questionable interceptions last Sunday, one where he was baited by Mike Adams and another where it seemed there was some confusion between receiver and QB, but the offense, dare we say, seemed better. On a short week, against a struggling divisional foe at home, it’s time for some cautious optimism.
Final score: Giants 20, Eagles 14
Season record: 2-3
While the Eagles come into Thursday night’s game struggling, I see them getting back on track against a Giants team struggling even more. The Giants are coming off one of the worst losses I have seen in awhile and conventional wisdom says that they’ll bounce back and win on Thursday night but I just don’t see that happening. This game will come down to the wire but the Eagles pull out a late win at MetLife.
Final Score: Eagles 24, Giants 21
Season record: 2-2
Are the Giants going to play meaningful football games the rest of the season? We will know the answer after Thursday night’s Giants-Eagles game. A win and the Giants have a chance to be relevant in in the mediocre NFC East. A loss? The Giants will be playing out the string of another playoff-less season and the fan base will be turning its attention to the draft and wondering when Kyle Lauletta will get a chance to play.
What do I think will happen? I think they will play with with passion tonight. I think they will give the Eagles everything they can handle. I think they will have a chance to win. I think they could win. I think it wouldn’t surprise me if they do win.
I just don’t think I can pick them to win. I want to. I believe that Giants players are sincere when they talk about feeling like they are improving and still have a chance. I think they are getting better and they do still have a chance. I hope they win. It’s tiresome writing about a team whose season is over before the halfway point.
I have just seen this movie too many times already this season. The Giants, with a chance to beat a good team, come up short. Jacksonville Jaguars. New Orleans Saints. Carolina Panthers. All winnable games against good teams that the Giants lost. The Week 2 game against the Dallas Cowboys, who aren’t in the class of the other three teams who have beaten the Giants, was also winnable. Again, they didn’t win.
One of these days the Giants are going to win a game like that. They might even do it Thursday night vs. the Eagles. I just can’t pick the Giants to win a game like this until they actually prove to me that they can do it.
Final score: Eagles 30, Giants 27
Season record: 1-4