Eagles vs. Giants: Three Numbers That Matter
Here’s a look at three numbers that matter as the Philadelphia Eagles prepare to play the New York Giants on Thursday evening.
17.9 – The Giants have allowed the third fewest points in the NFL this season.
New York’s defense is very good. Just take a look at the numbers.
7th in opponent yards per play – 5.1
4th in opponent yards per pass attempt – 6.3
3rd in opponent yards per rush attempt – 3.6
2nd in opponent average passer rating – 76.0
2nd in completion percentage allowed – 58.42%
3rd in third down conversion percentage – 35.51%
1st in red zone defense percentage – 40%
8th in interceptions – 14
3rd in defensive DVOA
One season after having an historically bad defense, the Giants have found a way to right the ship. New York’s expensive offseason signings ending up being worth it. And defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has done a better job than anyone expected.
The G-Men figure to be a tough matchup for the Eagles this week. Yes, Philadelphia scored 23 points on New York’s defense earlier this year. The Birds also gained 443 yards. But the Giants’ defense has really hit their stride lately. The Giants haven’t allowed more than 300 yards since Week 11. They’ve only surrendered an average of 13.2 points in their last five games.
The Eagles have their work cut out for them. Philadelphia’s offense has predictability struggled all too often this season due to a lack of ample talent surrounding Carson Wentz. Wentz, of course, has made mistakes as well. The rookie passer has only thrown four touchdowns to 10 interceptions in his last seven games. Wentz really struggled against the Ravens in Week 15.
One area where the Eagles didn’t struggle on Sunday? Their run game. Ryan Mathews had a very strong outing thanks to strong blocking up front from Philadelphia’s offensive line. The Eagles are getting Lane Johnson back this week so he could serve as a boost to a banged-up unit. Or maybe he’s rusty and he’ll make a few more mistakes than he usually would.
Either way, the Eagles need to find a way to replicate their strategy against the Ravens. Philadelphia found a way to pound the rock against Baltimore’s top-ranked run defense. Running the ball on the Giants won’t be easy, but Doug Pederson needs to maintain the balance he rediscovered in the Eagles’ near win over the Ravens. A viable running attack should make life easier on Wentz as the rookie tries to rebound at home in a division game.
18.2 – The Giants rank 25th in offensive points per game.
That’s only 0.3 points more than they’re giving up, which makes for a small margin of error. As a whole, New York’s offense simply isn’t very good.
25th in offensive points per game – 18.2
22nd in yards per play – 5.2
19th in yards per pass attempt – 6.6
30th in yards per rush attempt – 3.4
18th in average passer rating – 89.3
16th in completion percentage – 63.39%
31st in third down conversion percentage – 33.33%
12th in red zone percentage – 60.00%
5th most turnovers – 24
21st in offensive DVOA
The Giants obviously aren’t completely devoid of talent on the offensive side of the ball. The G-Men were able to burn Philadelphia’s secondary for multiple big plays the last two times these sides met. Eli Manning is obviously an accomplished quarterback and Odell Beckham Jr. is a talented wide receiver. New York’s defense is so good that their offensive strategy of just hoping OBJ will make a big play at some point works for them.
Then again, it’s worth noting Beckham Jr. hasn’t been a big threat to the Eagles in his two career games at Lincoln Financial Field. Check out these splits.
OBJ IN PHILADELPHIA
12 targets, 9 rec, 79 yards, 1 TD, long 18 yards
NEW YORK NEW JERSEY
38 targets, 21 rec, 295 yards, 3 TD, long 63 yards
Beckham Jr. talked about the challenges of playing in front of a hostile Philadelphia crowd.
“I don’t have any stories, but I’ve been called anything in the book over there when you’re down in Philly,” said Beckham Jr. “You just embrace it. It’s great. They don’t want to see you win. There’s nothing wrong with that. But just some of the stuff that was said, it’s pretty crazy. But at the end of the day, it’s all noise. It’s just words. It’s just talk. It’s not going to make or break who you are. But it is a pretty ruthless place down there.”
The Eagles’ secondary has been susceptible to giving up big plays this season. Philadelphia will really need their pass rush to step up in this game, which could be difficult due to Manning’s quick release time. Only three quarterbacks have been sacked less than Manning this year.
15 – Where the Eagles would pick in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft if the season ended today.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Eagles own the Vikings’ first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft due to the Sam Bradford trade. That pick currently sits at 15 with the Vikings sporting a 7-7 record. With two games left to go, there’s a chance Minnesota could lose out and the pick could end up as high as No. 7. It’s not likely, no, but it’s not impossible.
Eagles fans should obviously be rooting for the Vikings to lose out. Minnesota’s final two games include an away game at the surging Packers and a home game versus the surprisingly scrappy Bears. It’s very possible the Vikings could go 7-9. In order to make the Vikings’ pick more favorable, the Eagles can help themselves by winning out.
While most will say the Eagles’ final two games are meaningless since they’ve been officially eliminated from the playoffs, it’s actually easy to find meaning in these games. First, there’s the aforementioned draft pick scenario. And even if the Eagles lose, they’re only bettering their draft position in the rounds beyond the first.
The Eagles are also still seeking their first division win of the season. It would be pretty embarrassing for Philadelphia to end the season 0-6 against their rivals. The Birds might not be able to make the playoffs, but they can at least end the season on a high note with wins over the Giants and/or the Cowboys.
An Eagles win over the Giants on Thursday night would help ruin New York’s outside shot of winning the NFC East and earning the No. 1 seed. Philadelphia fans might not like that, though, because it helps Dallas secure the division instead.
The Eagles have shown good effort over the past two weeks after turning in a terrible performance against the Bengals. Philadelphia will need that effort as they face two tough division games on the schedule, starting on Thursday night against the Giants.
WHAT YOU MISSED
“I think this will bring the best out of me as a player and hopefully as a person.” Lane Johnson is ready to move on from his 10-game suspension and ready to prove himself as one of the best tackles in the league.
Where do the Eagles stand in this week’s NFL Power Rankings?
“My dream is that the NFL would fine the daylights out of me, and I’m going to take them to the Supreme Court and we’re going to get the Salvation Army a lot of notice.” NFC East Roundup.
“We got a great player in Isaac [Seumalo] and a versatile player that can play any of those positions now along the lines.” The rookie from Oregon State did a very good job playing in his first game at right tackle.
Brandon Lee Gowton and the BGN Radio crew discuss some Eagles topics.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz says execution, not the play call, was the reason for Steve Smith‘s touchdown, pens Zach Berman of the Inquirer.
“At halftime, I told those guys . . . ‘Hey, blame me for that call,’ ” Schwartz said, “And the reason I said it was because I didn’t want them to play conservative in the second half. Looking back, there are a lot of calls you would like to have back in the game. The call wasn’t the issue there, it’s the execution.”
The Eagles were trying to force a difficult field goal for the Ravens or end the half. They had man-to-man coverage with the cornerbacks told to keep the wide receivers away from the sideline, and they had two safeties deep. Schwartz said the Eagles did not blitz. They sent a four-man rush, and the other two defenders who appeared to blitz were in coverage on eligible receivers who stayed in to block.It looked as if Jalen Mills was beaten by Steve Smith in coverage, but Mills expected to have help from safety Jaylen Watkins. Watkins bit on a pump fake, leaving Mills exposed and allowing the Ravens to score a 34-yard touchdown.
“I never like to blame execution on a play,” Schwartz said, “but I know [Watkins] would like to have that one back.”
The Eagles have really struggled to create big plays and to stop big plays, writes Jimmy Kempski of PhillyVoice.
This season, the Eagles are once again among the league’s worst in giving up big plays. On the season they have given up 52 pass plays of 20+ yards, which is tied for third-worst in the NFL. They have also given up 13 pass plays of 40+ yards, which is tied for second-worst.
Conversely, the Eagles’ offense has produced just 37 pass plays of 20+ yards (tied for seventh-worst) and five pass plays of 40+ yards (sixth-worst).
In other words, the Eagles have allowed 15 more pass plays of 20+ yards defensively than they have produced on offense. That -15 differential is second-worst in the NFL, behind only the dreadful San Francisco 49ers.
Doug Pederson addresses the media at 11:15 for one last time before the Eagles-Giants game on Thursday night.
Chris Jastrzembski contributed to this post.