After what happened last week in Miami, is there really any game left on the Eagles’ schedule that you can realistically call a gimme? The answer is absolutely, positively no.
There is no way they should lose to the Giants on Monday night at the Linc. Saquon Barkley is gimpy and averaging 3.0 yards per carry since coming back too soon from a high ankle sprain. The chances of him having a game like the two he had against the Eagles as a rookie are small.
Eli Manning, who hasn’t played since Week 2, likely will start at quarterback in place of first-round rookie Daniel Jones. That could be good news or bad news. Jones’ mobility could’ve posed some problems for the Eagles, but he also hangs on to the ball longer than Eli.
While Manning certainly can throw the ball as well as Ryan Fitzpatrick, he doesn’t have a 6-3 wideout that can outjump Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills for 50-50 balls like DeVante Parker did.
The Giants have lost eight in a row and have scored more than 21 points twice in those eight losses. So the Eagles just need to not help them with turnovers and short fields and find a way to score about 24 points.
Can they do that? We’ll see. The Giants have been good against the run, but have allowed the fifth most pass plays of 30 yards or more in the league. The only problem is the deep ball usually isn’t on the Eagles’ menu. Their primary method of travel is the 12-play, 75-yard drive.
The Eagles say they’re angry and embarrassed about being 5-7 and losing to the Dolphins. They say they’re determined to save their season and win out. We’ll see.
Prediction: Eagles 24, Giants 17
The Eagles are like that body that claims it isn’t dead in the “Bring out yer dead” scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. They just won’t die, or rather, the equally “very ill” Cowboys won’t let them die. Given new life after Dallas fell to the Bears on Thursday night, the Eagles have few excuses left for not catching the Cowboys.
The Giants are an utter wreck, and while the return of Eli Manning could inject some energy into Pat Shurmur’s squad, we’re still talking about a quarterback who has lost 20 of 30 starts against the Eagles. Running back Saquon Barkley terrorized the Eagles in both games last season, but he hasn’t been as electric as he was in his rookie season, partly because of an ankle injury. And New York’s defense doesn’t do much of anything well.
All that being said, the Eagles haven’t earned the benefit of doubt. When you lose 7 of 12, three in a row, and at the woeful Dolphins, nothing is guaranteed. But they are home, the offense and the defense have at least had strong outings — albeit in different games — over the last month, and well, Eli Manning.
So I got the Eagles winning, but not covering, and another three weeks of postseason possibilities on the horizon.
Predicton: Eagles 29, Giants 20
Every Eagles prediction this week is required by law to contain a sentence explaining that a team that can lose to the Miami Dolphins can lose any game, including this one against the Giants. You might have figured that out on your own, though.
I don’t believe that will happen. I am open to the possibility of it happening; for an Eagles defense that gave up five touchdowns on five drives to Ryan Fritzgerald, Eli Manning’s replacing of rookie Daniel Jones is probably not a positive development. Saquon Barkley is healthier than he was a few weeks back, Golden Tate should return from a concussion, Evan Engram is playing.
Also, though the Giants rank 21st overall in rushing defense, their average yards per carry yield of 3.9 ranks sixth. What they are particularly bad at is stopping the deep pass — they’ve given up 14 40-plus-yard completions, tied for worst in the NFL. Gee, what is it the Eagles offense absolutely can’t do? I forget.
But surely that Dallas loss to Chicago worked some defibrillating magic at NovaCare. The Eagles, if they can pull their collective head out of their nether regions, are a much more talented team than the Giants. Lose this game, tank the season, everything is on the table, including Doug Pederson’s continued tenure.
Prediction: Eagles 29, Giants 24.
I have almost no confidence left in my, or anyone's ability to predict what the Eagles will be able to do each week at this point. We've seen them put it together offensively for stretches only to be let down by the defense. We've seen the defense play well, only for the offense to completely disappear. Somehow, even 12 games into the season, I'm not sure what the Eagles' strengths are.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I’ll still reluctantly pick the Eagles for the prime-time game against the New York Giants. Doug Pederson is 4-1 on Monday night during his tenure as Eagles head coach, albeit against some bad teams. But the 2-10 Giants are a bad team.
They’ve been outscored by opponents by 109 points this season, which is fourth worst in the NFL. They’ve got holes at almost every position group, and Saquon Barkley has had a quiet sophomore season thanks to a poor offensive line and a bout with an ankle sprain.
Yes, it's still possible the Eagles come out flat and lose to a less-talented team like last week, but I'm not ready to count on that happening. The Eagles are likely disappointed that Daniel Jones won't be playing. Eli Manning may be 38, and he was benched for a reason, but he'll get the ball out more decisively than the Giants rookie, and Manning doesn't have the fumbling problems Jones has.
I’ve been burned for using this logic before, but I’ll argue this once more: The Eagles are the more talented team, and they have more to play for. On Monday night at home, I can’t go as far as to say a Giants team that’s likely headed toward wholesale changes to the coaching staff and to the roster will beat a team somehow still in the playoff race. If they do, then the Eagles should be making the wholesale changes themselves.