Three-And-Out: Eagles-Giants Predictions
After their second win of the season, the Eagles will try to pick up their first NFC East victory against the Giants Monday night. Tim and Josh discuss who to keep an eye on, who will win and more.
PLAYER I’LL BE WATCHING
McManus: Byron Maxwell.
Odell Beckham Jr. has missed time this week with a hamstring injury, but in Chip Kelly’s mind, there’s no way he sits out Monday night.
“Our approach is he’s playing. We’ll see 13 on Monday night. Very competitive player, know him very well. He’s going to play against us,” the head coach said.
With Reuben Randle (hamstring) apparently on track to play, the Eagles defensive backs should have their hands full.
Maxwell appears to be trending in the right direction. He is coming off his best performance of the season statistically, yielding just two catches for 39 yards on four targets with a pass defensed against Drew Brees and the Saints.
“I had him doing a lot of different things [early on]. And I think by limiting that and letting him settle into the defense first before he moved too fast forward, is benefitting him,” said Billy Davis. “And again, it’s a learning process– all free agents, I don’t care how long they have been in the league, there’s a learning curve from the coaches learning the player and the player learning the system, and I think we are going in a great direction with Max on that.”
Some encouraging signs, then. But this is the type of matchup where you want to see some serious returns on your $25 million (guaranteed) investment.
Paunil: Jason Kelce.
The Pro Bowl center played perhaps his best game of the season against the Saints, but Monday night’s matchup will reveal more about whether he’s actually back to his old self.
“You’ve got to be strong up the middle, so typically when your center and your quarterback play well, then it kind of vibrates out through the team,” Pat Shurmur said.
The Giants’ receivers vs. the Eagles’ cornerbacks will certainly be a key factor in the game, but so will Philadelphia’s offensive line vs. New York’s defensive line. The Giants ranked second in rushing yards allowed per game (80.6), but more importantly, they’re tied for first in opponent yards per carry (3.5). They also rank in the top-10 in rushing touchdowns given up (three) and longest run conceded (26 yards).
According to Lane Johnson, the communication and chemistry of the offensive line Sunday was better than it has been at any other point this season. He said playing at home helped with the noise level, but that practicing more alongside Matt Tobin has been very beneficial.
The Eagles will again have the advantage of a friendly crowd — in what should be an electric atmosphere — but their chemistry will be tested against this Steve Spagnuolo defense that likes to attack you from all different angles.
OVER/UNDER: 60 rushing yards for DeMarco Murray — Whaddya got?
McManus: I’ll try the under. Murray got it going a little bit against New Orleans, rushing for 83 yards on 20 carries (4.2 avg.) with a touchdown. The Saints have been pretty generous on the ground, though, yielding 4.8 yards per carry to this point. The Giants, as you mentioned, are tops in the NFL in that department.
And you didn’t exactly leave Sunday’s game with the feeling that the flip had switched for Murray. Ryan Mathews continues to look like the better option to this point, and will likely be needed to help keep this ground game moving against a superior opponent.
Paunil: I’m also going to take the under. People discuss how Mathews needs more carries, but that’s just reflective of the real problem: he needs more snaps. Against New Orleans, DeMarco Murray played 51 percent of the offensive snaps, nearly twice what Darren Sproles (30 percent) and Mathews (24 percent) combined for.
I expect that number to fall below 50 percent for Murray Monday night, because I see Mathews playing more and Sproles being used as a bigger receiving threat. Although the Eagles will certainly reach 60 rushing yards as a team, it will be a joint effort.
McManus: Eagles 27, Giants 23
While the Giants have been good against the run, they rank second to last in pass yards allowed (314) and are now without corner Prince Amukamara (pec) for 2-4 weeks reportedly. There should be opportunities for some big plays through the air, and it will fall to Sam Bradford to take advantage. While Bradford has been inconsistent, his last two outings have been his best to date. The arrow, for now, appears to be pointing up.
Billy Davis‘ unit will have its hands full against a red-hot Eli Manning, but the ‘D’ is playing well overall and should be able to limit the damage.
The Eagles can ill-afford to drop to 0-3 in the division. They remain in desperation mode, and will play like it.
Paunil: Giants 24, Eagles 23
I’ll buy what the Eagles are selling when it comes to Beckham playing Monday night. He’ll surpass 100 receiving yards and a touchdown, and will be the key to the Giants’ victory. I also expect Caleb Sturgis to miss another extra point this week, but this time it will cost them the game.
Yes, the Giants give up more passing yards than 30 other teams, but that’s because opponents air it out more against them because of a stout run defense. New York ranks 14th in the NFL in opponent passer rating and passing yards per attempt.
I expect the run game will struggle and Sam Bradford won’t be able to put the team on his back for the win.