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Giants’ 2020 schedule, Weeks 7 and 10: Battling the defending NFC East champion Philadelphia Eagles

After being swept by the Eagles last season, have the Giants improved enough to defeat their division foe?

Wild Card Round - Seattle Seahawks v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

The New York Giants play five of their NFC East division games over a six-week period. And the one non-division opponent during that time frame? Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

After playing the Dallas Cowboys in Week 5, followed by a matchup against the Washington Redskins in Week 6, the Giants take on the Eagles. Then, three weeks later, they play the Eagles again.

During the 2019 season, the Giants dropped both contests against Philly. The first one, when Eli Manning started due to the injury of Daniel Jones, was almost storybook material but New York lost 23-17 in overtime.

The last time the Giants defeated the Eagles was Week 9 of the 2016 season.

Can New York end the losing streak this season?

Philadelphia Eagles

Key Losses: CB Ronald Darby, S Malcolm Jenkins, LB Nigel Bradham, WR Nelson Agholor, T Jason Peters, RB Jordan Howard, OL Halapoulivaati Vaitai, LB Kamu Grugier-Hill, DT Timmy Jernigan

Key Free Agent Signings: CB Darius Slay, WR Marquise Goodwin, CB Nickell Robey-Coleman, LB Jatavis Brown, S Will Parks, DT Javon Hargrave, S Rodnet McLeod, DB Jalen Mills, QB Nate Sudfeld, DT Hassan Ridgeway, RB Corey Clement

Draft Picks: WR Jalen Reagor, QB Jalen Hurts, LB Davion Taylor, S K’Von Wallace, OT Jack Driscoll, WR John Hightower, LB Shaun Bradley, WR Quez Watkins, OT Prince Tega Wanogho, DE Casey Toohill

The Eagles are the defending NFC East champs, but they have had a tumultuous and controversial offseason at best. Let’s begin with their offseason losses before working our way up to the strangeness that was their 2020 NFL Draft.

After six years in Philly, safety Malcolm Jenkins left to play for the New Orleans Saints. The Eagles’ decision not to sign Jenkins marks the end of an era, but it was not entirely surprising. Jenkins reportedly expressed desire to be one of the highest paid safeties in the NFL. Because his four-year, $32 million contract with the Saints is not exactly blockbuster, you have to consider that age might have been a factor as Jenkins is set to turn 33 in December.

The Eagles also said goodbye to cornerback Ronald Darby this offseason, which was expected after they traded two draft picks to acquire Darius Slay from the Detroit Lions. Slay has made the Pro Bowl each of the past three seasons and was an Associated Press All-Pro in 2017 when he recorded eight interceptions. Since being drafted in the second round out of Mississippi State in 2013, Slay has played in 103 games with 94 starts.

He missed two games due to injury last season, but has still proven to be reliable and consistent. He will provide an immediate boost to an Eagles secondary that allowed 15 pass plays of 40-plus yards in 2019, tied for second most in the NFL.

The secondary improvements continued with the re-signing of defensive back Jalen Mills and the acquisition of Nickell Robey-Coleman from the Los Angeles Rams.

The Eagles had one other pressing need this offseason: wide receiver. Carson Wentz deserved more offensive weapons than the Eagles had available last season. Alshon Jeffrey is 30 years old and is recovering from a Lisfranc foot surgery in December that renders his status for the 2020 season uncertain. DeSean Jackson had an injury-riddled 2019 campaign in which he played just three games due to an abdomen injury. And it is hard to imagine JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Greg Ward stepping up to play significant roles next season.

This brings us to the 2020 NFL Draft. Before the draft, the Eagles had already made changes to the secondary but they had left the wide receiver position largely untouched - a seemingly smart decision as this year’s class was full of elite talent.

Yet when it came to night one of the draft, the Eagles went rogue. With the No. 21 overall pick, they selected wide receiver Jalen Reagor out of TCU. Reagor had an impressive college career, finishing second in school history in touchdown catches (22) and sixth in receiving yards (2,248), but he was not projected to go until the second round in part because of his streaky focus and eight drops in the 2019 season. The selection is more surprising because LSU’s Justin Jefferson was still on the board. The Minnesota Vikings wasted no time in snatching him up one pick later at No. 22.

Then came not only one of the Eagles’ most surprising picks, but one of the most unexpected selections of the draft overall. With the No. 53 overall pick, the Eagles selected Jalen Hurts. Wentz is not going anywhere anytime soon as he still has four years remaining on his contract, so the Eagles might want the chance to develop Hurts over time. Hurts’ grace and patience during Alabama’s 2018 Championship game proves that he has the humility to be a backup and wait his turn, but the pick still made very little sense.

The Eagles attacked the cornerback position this offseason but did not apply that same sense of urgency to the wide receiver group. If Philly was going to use its second pick on a player that should not have an immediate impact in the coming seasons in the best case scenario, it could have traded its No. 21 and No. 53 picks to get a receiver like CeeDee Lamb.

The most notable improvement the Eagles made to their receiving corps was trading for Marquise Goodwin. The Eagles and San Francisco 49ers flipped sixth-round picks in what turned out to be a low-risk, high-reward trade. Goodwin has injury concerns, but he brings quickness to Philly. Together with Reagor and sixth-round pick John Hightower, the Eagles ultimately did add speed to their offense.

So what can we expect the outcome to be between the Giants and Eagles? Unfortunately for New York, I think the losing streak will continue. When the two teams first meet in Week 7, the Eagles will have just played the 49ers, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens. The matchup against New York will be a must-win, manageable game after three challenging weeks.

The Giants have a better shot at a win in the Week 10 matchup because the game is at MetLife but Philly will be fresh off of a bye week and ready to play. Unless the Giants can mount a upset, the losing streak against Philadelphia will likely continue into another season.