By Rob Maaddi
Drama aside, the Eagles have to win a football game Sunday.
Beating the Giants (2-7) won’t be easy. New York is better than its record. Yes, we say that often about lousy teams. But consider the Giants would’ve won in Philly on October 22 if Evan Engram catches a third-down pass. Still, it took Carson Wentz delivering a perfect throw and Boston Scott making an excellent catch to win the game with 40 seconds left.
Then the Giants came close against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. They fell a 2-point conversion short of going to overtime and would’ve won if Daniel Jones had turned the ball over twice earlier.
The Eagles are 1-3 coming off byes under Doug Pederson. They’ve dominated this series with eight straight wins and 12 of 13 but it’s difficult to beat the same twice in a 24-day span.
The Giants are an improving team under coach Joe Judge and the Eagles (3-4-1) simply aren’t good enough right now to make anything easy. All that adds up to make this one close.
Here are three matchups to watch:
1. Eagles RB Miles Sanders vs. Giants Run Defense
Sanders is expected to return from a knee injury and while Scott has played his best against the Giants, the Eagles need more from their rushing attack to help Wentz by keeping the defense off-balance. Too many opponents have been able to come after the quarterback because the Eagles don’t run enough or put themselves into passing situations by not doing it well enough on early downs. Sanders has 434 yards rushing in five games and is averaging 6.1 yards per carry. The Giants are 6th against the run, allowing 3.7 yards per carry, and have an imposing defensive line featuring three, 300-plus pounders in their 3-4 scheme. Leonard Williams (6-foot-5, 302) Dalvin Tomlinson (6-foot-3, 312) and Dexter Lawrence (6-foot-4, 342) are big, physical, run-stuffers along with middle linebacker Blake Martinez.
“They have a strong front and No. 54 Martinez is a really good linebacker, he’s really smart, he knows where he has to be and we have to challenge them and attack their front,” Sanders said.
2. Eagles TE Dallas Goedert vs. Giants LBs and DBs
Richard Rodgers caught six passes for 85 yards against the Giants last month with Goedert and Zach Ertz out. Goedert returned against Dallas and wasn’t much of a factor but should be much more involved this week. Wentz often targeted Ertz when the Eagles have faced New York, including nine catches for 91 yards and two TDs in Week 14 last year.
3. Wentz vs. Jones
QBs obviously don’t face each other on the field but Wentz and Jones have been turnover-prone this season and whoever protects the ball best should end up a winner. Wentz has 12 picks and lost four fumbles. Jones has thrown nine interceptions and lost four fumbles. It’s supposed to be a rainy, windy day. Wet, slick conditions set up for an ugly mess.