The Keys to an Eagles Victory over the Giants
The Eagles travel to New Jersey on Sunday as they face off against the New York Giants in a must-win NFC East match up. A win could put Philadelphia 2.5 wins up in the division depending on the result of the Washington Football Team. Following their unimpressive win over the Dallas Cowboys, the Eagles will need to raise their game greatly if they are to defeat an ever-improving Giants team. If the Eagles are to win, here are some things that will be key in unlocking their chances of victory.
Establish the run
Miles Sanders is expected to play this Sunday having missed the last couple of games through injury. Before the first game against the Giants Sanders was in top five for rushing yards on the season, and had been reliable when given the ball on the ground. If the Eagles are to win this Sunday, they need to put more faith in Sanders and Scott. Sanders has had 75+ yard runs twice this season, so the big play ability is there. Whilst Scott has just come off his best rushing performance against the Cowboys. The Giants have been good against the run this year, but with the potential of having Lane Johnson, Jason Peters and Isaac Seumalo back, the Eagles run game has the chance to cause New York issues. It would also take some pressure off of Wentz's shoulders, and open up the opportunity to roll him out of the pocket more often.
In all three wins this year the Eagles defense has forced multiple turnovers. If they are to win this Sunday, they are going to have to do more of the same. In their last game against the Cowboys, the Eagles defense forced two fumbles and returned one for a touchdown to close out the game against Dallas. Against New York, they had three turnovers including one to ice the game, and they scored a pick-six as well as two other turnovers in their win against the 49ers. Turnovers have proved vital in all three victories, and the Eagles defense will have to force them again this Sunday. Daniel Jones has turned the ball over in almost every game of his NFL career so it is something this defense must be watching for. It would be the perfect time for Darius Slay to get his first interception in an Eagles jersey. It was the forced fumble in the fourth quarter in the Week 17 win of last year which gave the Eagles all of the momenta in the game. They will gladly take a repeat of it on Sunday afternoon.
Keep Daniel Jones in the pocket
It was that huge Daniel Jones run, in which he embarrassingly fell over, that gave the Giants the momentum in the Thursday night clash a couple of weeks ago. He is New York's leading rusher this year with 320 yards, and it is his legs that give him the time to roll out and throw the ball or try and avoid a sack. Jones struggles to throw the ball when his first read is not open, and if the Eagles defensive line can put him under a lot of pressure early whilst keeping him closed inside the pocket, then they have the opportunity to cause a long night for the second-year quarterback.
Carson Wentz has to be smart
It sounds simple, and most writers have said it about him already, but Wentz needs to be smart with the ball and not turn it over. Wentz admitted it himself in his press conference earlier this week on how it just has to get out of his hands. That first fumble against the Cowboys was an unacceptable one. Then his first interception against them was very similar to the one against the Giants. If the Eagles are to win this game, he cannot be doing that. Wentz will need to take care of the ball, and not throw some of those dangerous throws that have turned into stupid interceptions. If Wentz comes under a lot of early pressure and receives hits, he must not turn to hero ball. They must run the ball and give him the shorter and underneath routes to ensure he does not let the game get away from him. Use the area of the playbook that worked so successfully last year down the stretch, and then factor in the chunk plays for Travis Fulgham, Jalen Reagor and Alshon Jeffery to take advantage of.
The run defense must improve
You could argue that the Eagles pass defense has played just as well in spells as they did during the 2017 regular season. Darius Slay's impact on the team has played a huge role in that, and they rank fourth in the league for pass defense. Their biggest issue now is shutting down the run where they rank 24th. They have allowed over 100 yards rushing in six of their eight games, so they need to step things up. The defensive line has been great in the pass rush being one of the best for sacks in the league, and they have only allowed a 300-yard passer once all season, whilst giving up less than 200 yards in passing four times. The Giants run game is not prolific, and if the linebacker play gets better, then the Eagles have a good chance at being able to stop the run game. If they can do that for the second half of the season, then the defense could come close to the one from 2017. It would allow them to dominate on Sunday, as shutting down the run will put more pressure on an easily rattled Daniel Jones.