The 4-10 New York Giants are visiting the surging 7-7 Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday. To preview the Week 16 matchup, I reached out to Brandon Lee Gowton of Bleeding Green Nation to get his insight on what to expect.
Philly has three remaining division matchups on their schedule and they are currently No. 8 in the NFC playoff standings. What do you think has been the key to their second-half push?
The turnaround really started in Week 8. The Eagles dropped to 2-5 after a blowout loss to the Las Vegas Raiders and there was thought that Philly might be the first team to lose to the then-winless Detroit Lions.
Instead, the Eagles blew out their competition in a game that featured adjustments on both sides of the ball. Offensively, the Eagles relied heavier than ever on their run game. They stopped asking Jalen Hurts to carry the team with his arm, which clearly wasn’t working. Defensively, the Eagles got more aggressive after previously just sitting back and getting picked apart.
The combination of coaching adjustments, key players stepping up, and facing off against some really bad quarterbacks has worked out for Philly.
The Eagles’ run game has emerged as one of the strongest in the league this season. How has that surprised you and which players do you think have contributed most to that success?
It’s surprising in the sense that it took so long for the Eagles to lean on their running game. Entering this season, many thought the team’s best approach was to rely on pounding the rock as opposed to asking Hurts to carry the offense. For whatever reason, the Eagles went with the opposite approach early in the year.
The success isn’t surprising in that the Eagles have the personnel for a dominant rushing attack. Hurts is obviously capable of picking up yards himself but his mobility also opens up space for the running backs. Philly’s offensive line is a dominant run blocking force. Run game coordinator/OL coach Jeff Stoutland deserves credit for getting the most out of his guys and scheming up a diverse rushing attack.
It’s hard not to give the blockers the most credit when you see a stat like this:
The Eagles have rushed for 1,569 yards before contact this season.— Paul Hembekides (@PaulHembo) December 23, 2021
Meaning, their O-line has created more yardage than 16 teams have gained overall.
That is preposterous.
Nick Sirianni is in his first year as a head coach not only of the Eagles, but of any NFL team. With the regular season almost complete, how would you assess his performance?
I’d give him an A-/B+.
Sirianni deserves to be dinged for the Eagles’ early season struggles. It took him time to play to the Eagles’ strengths. He was also too conservative in some key spots. For example, I don’t know why he thought the Eagles were going to beat the Chiefs by kicking red zone field goals.
Then again, he probably deserves some level of grace as a first-time head coach. He ultimately DID adjust and, as a result, the Eagles lead the NFL in scoring efficiency over the last seven games. Pretty impressive. And he’s doing it without merely relying on a ton of elite skill players.
Overall, there’s reason to be encouraged about Sirianni. He’s trending in the right direction. He brought some really creative wrinkles to the Washington game and it’ll be interesting to see if the offense can keep up the pace down the stretch.
The Eagles’ last game against Washington was moved to this past Tuesday due to COVID-19 outbreak on that team. Philly is now tasked with preparing to play the Giants on a short week. How, if at all, do you think that will impact their performance?
If the past is any indication, the short week could be a problem for the Eagles. They lost to the Kansas City Chiefs (42 to 30) after coming off Monday Night Football. They lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (28 to 22, with garbage time making the game look closer than it was) on Thursday Night Football.
Of course, one would recognize those teams as last year’s Super Bowl representatives. They would’ve been tough matchups for the Eagles even if Philly had extra rest.
Coming off a Tuesday isn’t ideal and the short rest could manifest in some capacity. Maybe it’s the Eagles getting off to a slow start. Or maybe the fatigue really sets in late during the game.
Still, there’s no good excuse for the Eagles to lose to this struggling and depleted Giants team. There’s no “trap game” angle here; the Eagles obviously already lost to the G-Men not that long ago. And Philly has home field advantage this time around.
A second loss to the Giants would be extremely embarrassing.
What is your prediction for the game against the Giants on Sunday?
Just don’t see how the Eagles lose this game.
Famous last words, right? I mean, I felt similarly ahead of the first Eagles-Giants game.
But it’s not like New York even played well in that one. They managed to score just 13 points despite notching four takeaways! The Eagles somehow still had a chance to win that game at the end, too.
I think it’s possible the Giants’ defense keeps the Eagles’ offense in check to some extent. I also think it’s possible Jake Fromm could have the Giants offense looking at least a little more competent than it’s been with Mike Glennon.
But Jonathan Gannon’s defense has done a good job of shutting down lesser quarterbacks all season long. And Jalen Hurts probably isn’t going to have another three interception performance against the Giants.
The Eagles win this game, 31 to 13.