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Keys to Sunday’s Eagles vs. Giants rematch will be third down production and ball security

Carson Wentz has been under pressure a lot this season. But so have the quarterbacks who have faced the Eagles. And they've played a lot better than him. Here is a breakdown of the numbers.

Eagles defensive ends Derek Barnett (left) and Brandon Graham (right) wrap up Giants quarterback Daniel Jones on Oct. 22.
Eagles defensive ends Derek Barnett (left) and Brandon Graham (right) wrap up Giants quarterback Daniel Jones on Oct. 22.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

The Eagles are coming off a bye week. They’re playing the 2-7 Giants Sunday up in the Meadowlands, who they have beaten 8 straight times, including 3 weeks ago. That’s the good news. The bad news is they’re 1-3 coming off the bye under Doug Pederson and 1-2 on the road this season. Let’s break down the game:

The third down story (offense)

  1. The Eagles are 15th in third-down efficiency (43.0%). But they’ve converted just 10-of-33 third-down opportunities (30.3%) in the last 3 games. They have converted 4 or fewer third-downs in 4 of their last 5 games.

  2. The Giants are 26th in third-down defense (47.8%). But the Eagles were just 4-for-13 against them in their 22-21 come-from-behind win in Week 7.

  3. The Eagles have converted just 3-of-17 third downs (17.6%) of 7 yards or more in their last 3 games. In their first 5 games, they converted 12-of-38 (31.6%).

  4. Greg Ward is tied for 7th in the league in third-down receptions with 14. He’s been targeted 18 times on third down. Ten of his 14 third-down catches have resulted in first downs.

  5. Carson Wentz is 20th in third-down passing with an 82.8 passer rating. He has a 58.9 third-down completion percentage, 3 TDs, 2 interceptions and 10 sacks.

  6. Wentz led the NFL in third-down passing in 2017 with a 123.7 rating. Completed 65.3% of his third-down passes, had 14 TDs and 3 interceptions and was sacked just 7 times on third down. His completion percentage the last 3 years never has topped 59.0. His career-high for sacks on third down was 15 last year, which he is on pace to pass.

The third down story (defense)

  1. Opponents have a 102.6 passer rating against the Eagles on third down, including a 63.4 completion percentage, 6 touchdowns, 1 interception and 8 sacks.

  2. The 63.4 opponent completion percentage on third down is the highest in Jim Schwartz’s 5 years as defensive coordinator. The 6 touchdown passes the Eagles have allowed on third down are just 2 less than they gave up the entire season in 2019.

  1. Since Ben Roethlisberger’s 13-for-13, 158-yard, 2-TD third-down performance against the Eagles in Week 5, the Eagles have done a much better job against the pass on third down. In their last 3 games, opponents have just a 63.1 third-down passer rating, including a 53.1 completion percentage and a 4.6 yards-per-attempt average. The Eagles have allowed just 9 first downs on 32 third-down pass attempts in the last 3 games.

  2. The Steelers converted 11 of their 15 third-down opportunities against the Eagles in their Week 5 win. Since then, opponents have converted just 13-of-42 third-downs (30.9%). In the Eagles' four losses, opponents have converted 29-of-61 third downs (47.5%). In their three wins and tie against the Bengals, 15-of-50 (30%).

  3. The Eagles have not allowed a third-down conversion of 10 yards or more in the last 2 games. The Giants and Cowboys were a combined 0-for-12.

Turnover troubles

  1. The Eagles have a minus-7 turnover differential (17 giveaways, just 10 takeaways). That’s the second-worst in the league, ahead of only the Cowboys (minus-13). The Eagles have won just 2 turnover battles in their first 8 games – against the 49ers (plus-2) in Week 4, and the Giants in Week 7 (also plus-2). The Eagles won both games.

  2. The Eagles haven’t had a positive turnover differential since 2017 (plus-11). Over the last 3 years, they have a combined minus-16 turnover differential.

  3. Carson Wentz has 16 of the Eagles' 17 giveaways – a league-high 12 interceptions and 4 lost fumbles. The only other giveaway by the Eagles was a fumble by Miles Sanders against the Rams in Week 2.

  4. Nine of Wentz’s 16 turnovers have resulted in drive starts in Eagles territory for their opponents. His 16 giveaways have been converted into 37 points. That’s 18% of their opponents points in the first 8 games.

  5. The Giants turned the ball over 3 times in their Week 7 loss to the Eagles. They are 28th in the league in giveaways with 15. Their quarterback, Daniel Jones, has 13 of them – 9 interceptions and 4 lost fumbles.

  6. The Giants are as opportunistic as they are careless. They are tied for second in takeaways with 15.

Under pressure

  1. Sunday’s game will feature two of the most pressured quarterbacks in the NFL this season. Wentz has been sacked 32 times in the first 8 games. That’s the most in the league, and just 5 fewer times than he was sacked the entire 2019 season.

  2. The Giants' Daniel Jones has been sacked 28 times, which is tied for the second-most. Jones has been under pressure on 150-of-349 total dropbacks this season, according to Pro Football Focus. That’s the most dropbacks under pressure in the league. Wentz is third. He’s been under pressure on 127-of-353 dropbacks (36%).

  1. Opposing quarterbacks have been under pressure against the Eagles' fierce pass rush on 39.9% percent of their dropbacks, according to PFF data (126-of-316 dropbacks). Yet, they have a collective 96.6 passer rating compared to Wentz’s 73.6. They have a 66.2 completion percentage compared to Wentz’s 58.6, and have thrown 13 touchdowns and just 3 interceptions, compared to Wentz’s 12 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

  1. In the Eagles' last 6 games, just one opposing quarterback has been under pressure on less than 40% of their dropbacks. That was the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger (28.6%).

More good stuff (and bad)

  1. Carson Wentz has attempted 40 deep passes (throws of 20 yards or more) in the first 8 games. He’s completed 14 of them, including 3 of his 12 touchdowns and 5 of his 12 interceptions.

  2. Wentz’s 35.0 completion percentage on deep balls is only slightly below the last 2 years (37.7 in 2019 and 37.0 in 2018) and better than 2017 (33.8) when he was the favorite to win the league MVP before shredding his knee.

» READ MORE: A maximum Miles Sanders should help Carson Wentz and the Eagles | Jeff McLane

  1. Where Wentz really has struggled has been on 0-10-yard throws. His 67.1 completion percentage and 5.5 yards-per-attempt average from that distance both are career lows. He has 4 TDs and 5 interceptions on 0-10-yard throws. Last year he had 18 TDs and just 1 interception.

  2. The Eagles are averaging just 4.6 yards per play on first down this season. That’s the second-lowest average in the league, ahead of only the Bengals (4.4). The Eagles are dead last in first-down rush average (3.3). In Doug Pederson’s first 4 years as head coach, the Eagles never averaged less than 4 yards per carry on first down. They averaged 4.7 when they won the Super Bowl in 2017.

  3. The Eagles have gone 3-and-out on 26-of-94 possessions (27.7%) this season. That’s the highest 3-and-out percentage in the league thus far.

  4. The wide-receiver snap count in the Eagles' Week 8 win over the Cowboys: Greg Ward and Travis Fulgham, both 59-of-63; Jalen Reagor 46; John Hightower 10; JJ Arcega-Whiteside 5.

» READ MORE: What to watch in the Eagles-Giants matchup | Early Birds

  1. The Eagles have not given up more than 81 rushing yards to a running back this season. Opposing RBs have averaged just 3.3 yards per carry against the Eagles.