Eagles-Giants scouting report, prediction | Paul Domowitch
The Giants have won two in a row and have gained a little momentum. The Eagles have lost three of their last four and are coming off a 48-7 beat down. Can they find a way to stop Saquon Barkley and keep their season alive?
When Eagles run the ball
In the wake of Jay Ajayi's season-ending knee injury in Week 5, rookie Josh Adams has jumped over Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement to become the team's most productive – and trusted — back. The Eagles ran the ball only 12 times in last week's 48-7 loss to the Saints, with Adams having seven of those carries for 58 yards, including a nice 28-yard touchdown run. The 6-2, 225-pounder has excellent vision and explosion through the hole. He has averaged 7.0 yards per carry in the last three games. In the five games since Ajayi went down,
Clement and Smallwood have averaged a combined 2.7 yards per carry, and just 2.4 on first down. Adams is averaging 6.0 yards per carry on first down. In the last three games, he has four of the Eagles' eight runs of 10 yards or more and six of their 12 rushing first downs.
The Giants are allowing 4.5 yards per carry. In their last three games, including wins over the Bucs and 49ers the last two weeks, they've given up 5.0 yards per carry.
When Eagles throw the ball
Carson Wentz had a career-worst 31.9 passer rating vs. the Saints, including three interceptions. Wentz's third-down passing numbers pale in comparison to the ones he put up last year. He averaged 9.5 yards per attempt on third down last year. This year: 6.52. Just 37.5 percent of his third-down passes in the last four games have produced first downs. That said, he was exceptional on third down against the Giants in Week 6, completing 13 of 14 attempts for 167 yards, 2 TDs and a season-high nine first downs. Tight end Zach Ertz mysteriously disappeared from the offense last week. Ertz, who had 75 catches in the first nine games, was targeted just three times against the Saints and had two catches for 15 yards. Wide receiver Golden Tate had five catches against the Saints, but for only 48 yards and two first downs. Since Wentz burned them for three TDs in Week 6, the Giants have given up just five passing TDs in the last four games. But their pass rush is pathetic. They have just one sack in the last three games and 11 on the season.
When Giants run the ball
The Eagles' run defense has fallen on hard times, and now it has to go up against Saquon Barkley without injured middle linebacker Jordan Hicks. Barkley is sixth in the NFL in rushing with 728 yards, 130 of which came against the Eagles. His eight runs of 20 or more yards, including 50- and 46-yarders against the Eagles, is tied for the most in the league. Barkley rushed for 142 yards and two TDs in Sunday's win over the Bucs. He had a season-high 27 carries against the Bucs a week after getting 20 against the 49ers. The Eagles need Nigel Bradham to pick up the slack against the run with Hicks out. But Bradham hasn't been playing anywhere close to the level he played at last year. The Eagles aren't swarming to the ball the way they did a year ago. And their tackling has been horrendous. The Saints rushed for 173 yards on them on Sunday between Drew Brees touchdown passes. A week earlier, Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys torched them for 171 rushing yards.
When the Giants throw the ball
Eli Manning is 16th in the league in passing (96.6). He's thrown just six interceptions but is 25th in touchdown percentage (just 13 in 364 attempts) and has been sacked a league-high 36 times, including four times in just 22 pass plays against the Bucs. He completed 17 of 18 passes and averaged 12.8 yards per attempt vs. the Bucs. Manning is second in the league in third-down passing (116.0). He has a 73.4 completion percentage and has thrown seven of his 13 TD passes on third down. The Eagles held Odell Beckham to six catches for 44 yards in Week 6. But that was before their DBs started falling like flies. Their opponent passer rating the last two games is 126.0. The Saints and Cowboys completed 72.5 percent of their passes and averaged 9.5 yards per attempt against them. Barkley is every bit as dangerous a receiver as the Saints' Alvin Kamara. He had nine catches for 99 yards against the Eagles, and this time the Eagles will be without Hicks.
Both teams have reliable kickers with strong legs. Jake Elliott has converted 14 of 18 field goal attempts. He had a season-high 56-yarder against the Cowboys two weeks ago. The Giants' Aldrick Rosas is 20-for-21. His only miss was a 52-yarder against the Eagles. Elliott has the league's third highest touchback percentage on kickoffs (80.). Just nine of his 45 kickoffs have been returned. The longest has been for only 32 yards. Giants KR Corey Coleman has averaged 28.3 yards on eight returns the last two weeks but probably won't get many opportunities Sunday. P Cam Johnston is third in net average (43.0) and hasn't had a touchback in the last six games. Golden Tate has averaged just 3.0 yards on three returns since taking over the PR duties. The Eagles are fifth in the league in punt coverage (6.1). Giants P Riley Dixon is sixth in gross (46.5) and seventh in net (41.4) average.
The Giants haven't beaten the Eagles at the Linc since Chip Kelly's rookie season in 2013. But the Giants have won two in a row and are starting to gain momentum, while the Eagles have lost three of their last four and are coming off a 41-point beat down by the Saints.
Domowitch's prediction: Giants 24, Eagles 21
Eagles LB Nigel Bradham v. Giants RB Saquon Barkley. Barkley rushed for 130 yards vs. Eagles in Week 6 and is coming off a 142-yard performance vs. Bucs. He's also a lethal weapon as a pass-catcher out of the backfield, as he proved in the first meeting with the Eagles. Without Jordan Hicks, there's even more pressure on Bradham to pick up his play.
Eagles CBs Cre'Von LeBlanc, Chandon Sullivan, and De'Vante Bausby vs. Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard. Injuries have the Eagles scrambling for corners. Buckle your seat belts, boys and girls — it's going to be a bumpy ride.
Eagles TE Zach Ertz vs. Giants S Landon Collins: Ertz is on pace to catch 100-plus passes but was targeted just three times in the loss to the Saints. In the first Giants game, he had seven catches for 43 yards and a touchdown.
Turning up the heat on Eli: Manning has been sacked a league-high 36 times this season. The Eagles sacked him four times and got consistent pressure on him in Week 6. Given their injury problems in the secondary, they need to do the same Sunday. The expected return of DT Tim Jernigan will help.
Slowing down Saquon: The Giants rookie had 229 yards from scrimmage against the Eagles in Week 6, including 130 on the ground. Barkley is averaging 4.6 yards per carry on first down. The Eagles have given up 6.7 on first down the last five games. Somehow, some way, they need to find a way to slow down Barkley on first and second down and put Manning in third-and-long dilemmas.
Snap out of it, Carson: Wentz is coming off the worst performance of his career in Sunday's loss to the Saints. His decision-making was poor, and his accuracy took a long lunch break. He doesn't have a lot of trust in his offensive line right now. But, the Giants' pass rush is feeble. Wentz needs to bounce back with a confident, franchise-quarterback-like performance.