The New York Giants, reeling in recent weeks after a surprisingly fast start to the season, could use something unexpected to give their playoff hopes a boost. Can they find it with an unlikely victory over the Philadelphia Eagles?
Let’s look at some of the things to know as we get to Week 14 of the NFL season with the Giants continuing to play meaningful games.
The Eagles can clinch a playoff berth
Philadelphia enters Sunday’s game sporting an NFL best 11-1 record. The Eagles can clinch a playoff berth with a win or tie against the Giants. If New York pulls off the upset, the Eagles can still clinch if both the San Francisco 49ers (facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Seattle Seahawks (facing the Carolina Panthers) lose their games.
It is far too early to try and figure out all of the playoff permutations for the 7-4-1 Giants, but they are in the middle of a fight for one of the final two wild-card spots in the NFC. Having gone 1-3-1 over their last five games, the Giants have been losing ground.
The 7-5-1 Commanders and 7-5 Seahawks are right on the Giants’ heels, and even the 5-7 Lions, who have the head-to-head tie-breaker advantage because of their victory over the Giants, are a threat.
Run the ball
The way to deal with the Philadelphia defense this season has largely been by running the ball. Of course, that isn’t easy.
The Eagles are 17th in the league against the run, giving up 117.9 yards per game. They are 24th in yards allowed per rushing attempt at 4.6. During a five-game stretch from Weeks 5-10, they gave up 124 or more yards rushing in five straight games, culminating with 152 allowed in their 32-21 loss to the Commanders.
Of course, the Eagles responded to that by signing free agent defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph. They have also gotten defensive tackle Jordan Davis, their run-stuffing 340-pound first-round pick, back from injury. In their last three games, the most rushing yards Philly has allowed is 106 in a 40-33 victory over the Green Bay Packers.
The Giants, of course, have tried to control games this season by running the ball and throwing cautiously on their terms this season. They generally managed that while starting 6-1, but have been unable to do that consistently over the last five games.
They are going to have to find a way. Otherwise, the Eagles — second in the league in sacks with 42 and sack percentage at 9.44 — are almost certainly going to inflict a beating upon Daniel Jones.
Stop the run
If the Vox Media writing platform supported it, I would probably insert a long string of laughing — or maybe more appropriately — crying emojies here.
On paper, the idea that the Giants could stop, or slow, the Philadelphia rushing attack is laughable.
The Giants are, honestly, terrible on run defense. They give up 5.1 yards per rushing attempt, 30th in the league, and are 26th in yards rushing allowed per game at 141.1. They don’t have impact off-ball linebackers. They give up the edge too often. They have Dexter Lawrence, but we don’t know if they will have Leonard Williams, his defensive line cohort.
The Eagles are built to run. They are fifth in rushing yards, third in attempts, 12th in yards per attempt and fifth in yards per game (154.6).
Miles Sanders has 924 yards on 187 carries (4.9 yards per rush) and nine touchdowns. Quarterback Jalen Hurts is third in the league in QB rushing yards with 609.
Could the Giants get more injured players back this week?
Coach Brian Daboll said Monday that Leonard Williams, who suffered a neck injury Sunday against Washington, was “sore” and that his status would not be determined until later this week.
Offensive lineman Ben Bredeson, out since Week 7, practiced last week but remained on injured reserve. Could he be added to the roster this week?
Daboll wasn’t certain if cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (sprained MCL) or safety Xavier McKinney (hand) would be able to practice or play this week.