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10 Things To Watch For

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10 things to watch for vs. Eagles

1. One, not done. Did the first five weeks go as new Giants coach Pat Shurmur hoped they would? No. Is his team out the NFC East race? No. The Giants, who have just one victory through five games and recently lost on a 63-yard field goal at the last second, are taking a positive approach to a division full of negatives. All four teams lost in Week 5, leaving the 2-2 Redskins at the top with the Cowboys and Eagles at 2-3. A win on a short week against Philadelphia would put Big Blue back on track. Washington and Dallas are both at home this week against Carolina (3-1) and Jacksonville (3-2), respectively.

2. Having the Giants’ number. In a series that dates back to 1933, the Giants lead 83-81-2 in the regular season (2-2 postseason). Recent history, however, has not been as kind to the Giants. They have won just five of their past 20 games against the NFC East rivals, including a 2-6 record at MetLife Stadium since it opened in 2010. The Eagles swept the season series in 2017 for the third time in four years.

3. Vernon looking for 2018 debut. Outside linebacker Olivier Vernon, who has not played this season due to an ankle injury he suffered in practice in late August, is on track to play Thursday night. The seventh-year edge rusher has 44 career sacks, a welcome source of production for a Giants defense tied for a league-low six sacks. Also on the injury front, tight end Evan Engram (knee) will miss his third consecutive game while wide receiver Russell Shepard, who had a key 40-yard reception late in Week 5, is also ruled out with a neck injury.

4. Eagles lose top RB. Philadelphia placed Jay Ajayi on injured reserve this week after the team’s leading rusher tore his ACL. Furthermore, Darren Sproles has been ruled out of Thursday’s game with a hamstring injury. Left in the Eagles’ backfield is Corey Clement, who has been dealing with his own hamstring issues, Wendell Smallwood and Josh Adams. The Giants will try to make a tough night for them as they try to improve on their 27th-ranked rush defense (124.4 yards per game).

5. Offense on track? The Giants had three pass plays of 25 yards or more in their first four games. In the fifth, they had five as part of a 31-point, 432-yard offensive output in Carolina. Now they go against an Eagles defense ranked 10th in total yards per game (343.2), 22nd against the pass (276.8), second against the run (66.4), and seventh in scoring (20.8).

6. Buffalo Right Seven Heaven vs. Philly Special. Two of the most spectacular plays of last year’s postseason – which are sure to be remembered well beyond – were called by the two head coaches set to meet on Thursday night at MetLife Stadium. Shurmur, then the Vikings’ offensive coordinator, dialed up the 61-yard touchdown pass from Case Keenum to Stefon Diggs on the final play that gave Minnesota a 29-24 victory over New Orleans in the divisional round.

The Vikings eventually lost to the Doug Pederson’s Eagles in the conference championship game, and two weeks later in Super Bowl LII the head coach became immortalized in Philadelphia for giving Nick Foles the green light to run the trick play that resulted in a touchdown pass from tight end Trey Burton to the backup quarterback. Shurmur, whose offense ran a trick play just last week on wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.’s 57-yard touchdown pass to running back Saquon Barkley, began his NFL coaching career with the Eagles under Andy Reid in 1999, the year quarterback Doug Pederson arrived as a free agent.

7. Wentz is back. Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was 13 weeks into his MVP-caliber season before suffering a serious knee injury in 2017. It opened the door for Foles, who was named Super Bowl MVP and started the first two games of the follow-up campaign while Wentz continued his rehab. The second pick of the 2016 NFL Draft returned in Week 3 and is completing 67.2 percent of his passes with five touchdowns to just one interception. Wentz is 2-1 against the Giants despite having more interceptions (three) than touchdowns (two) and a passer rating (74.5) below his career average (89.9).

8. Not a mirage. In two games against the Eagles last season, Eli Manning threw 104 passes, and completed 72 for 800 yards. All three figures are Giants records for a single season against one opponent. All three were also the high totals for any quarterback against any team in 2017.

9. Barkley hunting history. Rookie running back Saquon Barkley can join Kareem Hunt as the only players in NFL history with at least 100 scrimmage yards in the first six games of their career. Barkley, the second overall draft pick, has 582 yards (308 rushing, 274 receiving) and five total touchdowns in five games.

10. The week’s roster moves. Right tackle Ereck Flowers, the former ninth overall draft pick, was placed on waivers. Brian Mihalik was signed off the practice squad to take his place as the swing tackle. That left an opening for kicker Marshall Koehn, who was signed to the Giants’ practice squad after Aldrick Rosas came out of Sunday’s game with a sore quad on his kicking leg. However, Rosas appears to be a go for Thursday night, which is good news for the Giants. The second-year pro improved to 11-for-11 on the season after making three field goals against the Panthers, including a career-long 53-yarder.

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