The New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles met just three weeks ago, with the Eagles coming back from a 17-3 deficit to win in overtime, 23-17. Since that game was quarterbacked for the Giants by Eli Manning rather than Daniel Jones it is, however, difficult for us to really lean on what we saw in that game in an effort to figure out what might happen this Sunday when the Giants have the ball.
Let’s look at what we have seen recently from the two teams, though, and try to get an idea how Sunday’s season-finale might play out.
Clearly, teams have decided in recent weeks that throwing the ball is the way to attack the Eagles’ defense.
Over the past three weeks, opponents have run the ball a league-low 19.3 times per games against Philadelphia. Per Inside Edge, this trend away from running against the Eagles has gone on longer than that. Inside Edge data shows that the Eagles have defended against only 77 rushing attempts since Week 13, fewest in the league.
Also per Inside Edge, the Eagles’ defense has allowed passes of 40+ yards on 6 of 142 attempts (4.2 percent) since Week 13 -- highest in NFL. League average is 1.4 percent.
On the Giants’ overtime loss three weeks ago, Eli Manning threw 30 times while the Giants ran the ball 20 times, with Saquon Barkley carrying 17 times for 66 yards.
Last week, Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboy threw 44 passes in a 17-9 Eagles’ victory while Ezekiel Elliott carried only 13 times for 47 yards.
The Eagles this week placed starting cornerback Ronald Darby on injured reserve. The team’s other starting cornerback, Jalen Mills, was listed as limited Wednesday with an ankle injury. Those injuries could leave Raul Douglas and Sidney Jones at cornerback for Philadelphia.
Jones, of course, is coming off a 28 of 42, 352-yard, five touchdown, zero interception game against the Washington Redskins.
Don’t forget Saquon, though
Yes, teams have been attacking the Eagles largely through the air in recent weeks. Still, the pass-heavy Dallas attack last week that rendered Elliott a non-factor resulted in only 9 points.
The Giants simply cannot forget about Barkley, who is coming off the best game of his career. HIs franchise record 279 yard game against Washington (22 carries for 189 yards, 4 catches for 90 yards) was a reminder of what a healthy Barkley can do when given the opportunity.
Per Inside Edge, the Giants are 2-13 during Barkley’s career when he is below his average of 79.2 yards rushing per game, and just 2-11 when he doesn’t carry the ball at least 16 times. Thus, even though run defense is a Philadelphia strength with Football Outsiders ranking them No. 4 in the league in DVOA vs. the run the Giants have to feed Barkley if they are going to be successful.