The Matchup: Eagles Vs. Giants
Here’s a look at how the Eagles match up with the Giants.
WHEN THE EAGLES RUN…
The ground game improved last week as the Birds totaled 145 yards on 33 carries against the Rams. LeSean McCoy had 24 for 81, and Darren Sproles had seven for 51.
The Giants have been OK against the run. They rank 13th according to Football Outsiders and are allowing 4.1 YPC. But last season, New York had a great game plan for the Eagles’ rushing attack and limited McCoy to 94 yards on 35 carries (2.7 YPC). Keep in mind, that was with a healthy offensive line and McCoy on top of his game. On the flip side, the Eagles suffered injuries to their starting QBs in both contests against the Giants.
Once again, the Eagles will go with backups David Molk and Matt Tobin at center and left guard, respectively. The Giants will rotate defensive linemen. Second-year player Johnathan Hankins is playing well, and former Eagle Cullen Jenkins was very active last week against Atlanta. Another ex-Eagle, Mike Patterson, gave Jason Kelce all kinds of problems last year. On paper, the Giants should have a major advantage against the Eagles’ interior linemen.
Linebacker Jon Beason (questionable) could return after being sidelined wince Week 2 with a foot/toe injury. Jacquian Williams never comes off the field. Jameel McClain will either start on the strong side or the middle. Mark Herzlich could see some action as well.
With Lane Johnson back, the Eagles used some unbalanced line last week. They also incorporated some pistol and had their RB switch sides at the last moment. Against the Giants, expect them to do whatever possible to mess with the defense’s keys and run fits.
WHEN THE EAGLES PASS…
It’s no secret that Nick Foles has struggled. He’s playing under less-than-ideal circumstances with a struggling run game and an offensive line that has allowed pressure. Still, Foles has turned it over four times in the past two weeks and has completely only two of 16 throws that have traveled 20 yards or more.
Jeremy Maclin leads the team with 57 targets. He has 25 grabs for 429 yards and four touchdowns on the season. Those numbers could be much better with consistent quarterback play. Riley Cooper is averaging just 8.3 yards per reception, but he looked a little better last week and scored a touchdown on a fade in the end zone.
The Giants are capable of playing either zone or man. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie can run and cover, but often has no interest in getting his hands dirty as a tackler. Look for the Eagles to attack him with WR screens. Prince Amukamara has played well at RCB. The Giants have another former Eagle, Quintin Demps, at one safety spot and veteran Antrel Rolle at the other one.
Foles only attempted three passes of 20+ yards last week. When the Eagles had bad numbers in the box, he often threw the ball to the perimeter. According to Football Outsiders, the Giants rank eighth against the pass, but are 23rd in covering opposing running backs and tight ends. This could be a nice matchup for Zach Ertz, McCoy and Sproles in the passing game.
Up front, Jason Pierre-Paul gave Falcons rookie Jake Matthews all kinds of problems last week. He’ll get matched up primarily with Jason Peters in arguably the game’s best matchup. The Giants will send pressure and use a variety of stunts to generate free rushers. Robert Ayers and Damontre Moore will rotate in on the defensive line. Hankins leads the Giants with 2.5 sacks.
Statistically, the Eagles are third-best in sacks allowed, but that number is misleading as Foles has faced pressure and taken a lot of hits.
WHEN THE GIANTS RUN…
New York will be without Rashad Jennings. That will mean a heavy dose of bruising back Andre Williams. Williams is a downhill, physical runner without a lot of wiggle. He has 54 carries for 170 yards (3.1 YPC) on the season. The Eagles have had some issues against the run, but they rank eighth overall.
The big question for the Birds is whether DeMeco Ryans will be able to play. He gets everyone set up pre-snap and is very good against the run. If Ryans is sidelined (questionable, groin), the Giants could have success running the football. Fletcher Cox has been the Eagles’ best defensive player all season. Cedric Thornton and Bennie Logan have been solid as well. If Ryans is healthy, this is a clear edge for the Eagles.
New York’s offensive line has played well. From left to right, they’ll go with Will Beatty, Weston Richburg, J.D. Walton, John Jerry and Justin Pugh. Beatty is a veteran, and the team drafted Richburg in the second round of May’s draft. The Giants added Walton and Jerry in the offseason. Pugh was a first-round pick in 2013.
WHEN THE GIANTS PASS…
The new attack is predicated on Eli Manning getting rid of the ball quickly. The veteran has gone 68-for-97 (70.1 percent) for 734 yards (7.6 YPA), eight touchdowns and one interception in his last three games.
Manning has an excellent group of pass-catchers at his disposal. Victor Cruz leads the team with 321 receiving yards and has produced seven plays of 20+ yards. He’ll get matched up with Brandon Boykin in the slot. Reuben Randle (23/189) and tight end Larry Donnell (25/236/4) are popular red zone targets.
Rookie Odell Beckham Jr. made his debut last week. He was impressive with four catches for 44 yards and a touchdown. He also drew a 26-yard pass interference penalty, and Manning missed him on a deep ball where he was wide open. Beckham is a fluid route-runner with top-end speed. He can high-point the ball and has excellent hands.
The Eagles’ defense played well last week before melting down in the fourth quarter. Bradley Fletcher has struggled this season, and Cary Williams has allowed a pass play of 25+ yards in three consecutive games. Nate Allen has hid share of issues, and Malcolm Jenkins has played well for the most part, although last week was his worst outing of the season.
Up front, Cox has been disruptive with his pass-rush. Connor Barwin and Trent Cole will start at OLB, but Brandon Graham has been outstanding the last two weeks. He needs to get on the field more.
The Giants will go with mostly 11 personnel (one RB, one TE). The Eagles have sometimes chosen to stay in base against that grouping, with Jenkins matching up against the opposing slot. But in this game, look for Boykin to play more snaps than he has all season.
Per Pro Football Focus, 11.2 percent of Manning’s throws have gone 20+ yards. There’s a lot of underneath stuff, but he’ll take his shots downfield.
According to Football Outsiders, the Eagles rank 21st against the pass. They’ve been good against opposing TEs (eighth), but terrible against running backs (32nd).
Mychal Kendricks will be out once again. Casey Matthews and Emmanuel Acho will replace him in base looks. Marcus Smith II could see some action in sub packages. The Eagles will also play a lot of dime with Nolan Carroll II lining up as a pseudo-linebacker.
SPECIAL TEAMS, ETC.
The Eagles have the best special teams in the league, while the Giants are 23rd. But the Birds will be without key special teamers Brad Smith and Chris Polk.
The Eagles have scored touchdowns on 37.5 percent of their red zone trips (29th); the Giants have converted 62.5 percent of the time (13th). …The Eagles’ defense has allowed TDs 62.5 percent of the time (22nd); the Giants 46.7 percent (sixth).