Heading into Thursday night’s matchup against the New York Giants. Despite their sickening 1-4-1 record, they’re still one game out of first place in the division, making this a crucial must-win game.
The Eagles have had considerable success against the Giants in the past half-decade, but they’re not in a position to take any opponent for granted. This is going to be their greatest challenge yet, based on the lineup:
In order for the Birds to walk out of the Linc with a greater chance of winning the NFC East, there are some key areas they need to excel in, such as the run-game, turnover battle, and playcalling.
Don’t Give Up On The Run Game
The Eagles’ miserable luck has continued this season with the loss of Miles Sanders. Up to this point, Sanders has had 434 rushing yards with three touchdowns.
The last game Sanders missed, which was the season opener versus Washington, the Eagles had to rely on the duo of Boston Scott and Corey Clement. In case you don’t remember, it went poorly. Scott had just 35 yards on nine carries while Clement had 19 yards on six carries.
As a result of that, a 17-0 lead crumbled into a 27-17 loss. Being able to gain consistent yards on the ground would be a tremendous help should the Eagles build and maintain a lead against New York, all while keeping the defense humble.
Last season, Scott had his three-touchdown performance versus the Giants. Another showing like that isn’t likely, but if Scott can give at least give the Eagles 60 or more rushing yards, it would still be a productive day.
This isn’t to say it’ll be an easy challenge, as the offensive line is a huge question mark. Still, staying devoted to rushing could pay huge dividends.
Force Some Turnovers
This season, Daniel Jones has thrown six interceptions and just three touchdowns. He’s thrown a pick in every game except one. Meanwhile, the Eagles have just two interceptions this season, tied for third-lowest among teams. That’s no doubt contributing to their horrible -7 turnover differential.
The Eagles need to force the Giants to make mistakes. Jones, in his second season, is still a very much unfinished product and is prone to sloppiness.
Taking advantage of that fact would give the Eagles a much-needed edge in an area they still have yet to find success in.
“Big Play” Darius Slay still doesn’t have an interception this season. He could get his first tonight, as he’ll be covering the frequently-targeted Darius Slayton often.
… And Don’t Commit Turnovers
The Eagles have had 12 turnovers this season, the third-worst in the league. Prior to the Baltimore game, Carson Wentz had thrown at least two picks in every game this year. It was a far cry from his low total of seven interceptions last year.
Last Sunday, Wentz finally went a game without throwing an interception. It’s a great opportunity for Wentz to start putting together a string of mistake-free matchups and hopefully return to what he once was.
The Giants have a -2 turnover differential and have intercepted opposing quarterbacks four times. Like Philadelphia, New York has had a miserable time taking the ball away. For the Eagles’ sake, it’d be best to keep it that way.
Score Early and Build A Lead
Last week’s game against the Ravens saw the Eagles in a 17-0 ditch at halftime. Although they played considerably better and lost by just two when the clock hit zero, it still doesn’t excuse the poor performance in the first half.
In the games that the Eagles score first this season, they’re 1-1-1. In the games they don’t, they’re 0-3. It’s a no brainer that taking the lead would set the tone for the evening.
Of course, the Eagles also need to keep the lead going. Letting New York hang around could be dangerous, as we saw in the Washington game.
Momentum will be a huge factor, and the more the Eagles can repeatedly move down the field and capitalize on those trips to the Giants’ redzone, the greater their chances of victory.
Make Good Decisions, Doug!
Lastly, Doug Pederson has to be better during crucial playcalling moments. It’s now been twice this season that after a game, Pederson has said he wished he did things differently. The first was about the punt in the Bengals game, and the latest was the failed two-point conversion last week.
It’s a little startling to see a coach seemingly freeze up during the biggest plays of games. It certainly hasn’t been easy for him due to losing half the team to injury, but the Eagles still find themselves in positions to win.
Pederson will get surely get a pass this season regardless of what happens from here on out, but he needs to shore up his decision-making. It could be the difference between playing and sitting at home in January.