The Giants (2-10) will look to end their eight-game losing streak when they travel to Lincoln Financial Field to take on the Philadelphia Eagles (5-7) Monday night. The Week 14 matchup will be the first of two December contests between the NFC East foes. The Eagles won both meetings last season.
Here are three keys to victory for the Giants:
Slow down Philadelphia's passing game
The Giants' run defense has been strong lately, limiting opponents to a mere 73.3 yards per game over the last three games, the fourth-best mark in the league across their last three games. However, this success has not yet carried over to the Giants' pass defense. The Giants rank 25th in the league with 258.6 yards allowed per game this season. Most of the damage has come from opposing wide receivers, as the Giants have allowed the third-fewest yards to tight ends. This is good news for James Bettcher's defense as they are set to take on one of the NFL's top tight ends, and Carson Wentz's favorite target, in Zach Ertz. However, the cornerbacks will be faced with the tough challenge of trying to slow down Alshon Jeffery and possibly Nelson Agholor (knee). While Philadelphia prefers to control the time of possession with its 1-2 punch of Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders at running back, the Eagles may have to rely on Wentz' arm to move the ball against this surging Giants' run defense.
Get Saquon going
Prior to last week's game against the Packers, Saquon Barkley had only one game with an average yards per carry of 4.0 since Week 2. The second-year back got back on track against Green Bay, taking 19 carries for 83 yards (4.4 yards per carry) while adding three receptions for 32 yards. The Eagles defense has had trouble stopping the pass this year; however, they enter this matchup as one of the league's top run defenses, ranking fourth with 91.0 rushing yards allowed per game. Barkley had tremendous success in the two games against Philadelphia last year, racking up a total of 231 yards on just 26 carries (8.9 yards per carry) and two touchdowns in addition to 16 receptions for 140 yards and an additional score. Eli Manning will be back under center this week, and for the first time all season, the Giants should have a full complement of skill players. If the Giants are able to establish the run game and get Barkley rolling, it should keep Philadelphia's defense honest and open up the field for Manning.
"I feel like I'm getting back to myself, but I'm not really focusing on individual stats," Barkley told reporters Thursday. "I don't care if I go for 250 yards, I don't care if I go for 50 yards, I just want to go out there and help my team win football games. Coming down to the home stretch of the season, got four games left, try to finish it strong as a team and it starts with Monday Night Football in front of everyone, so try to go out there and execute better as a team and put ourselves in position to win."
Protect the quarterback
While starting the first two games of the season, Manning was sacked just two times. In the 10 games since, Daniel Jones has been taken down 33 times. The veteran is back under center this week, and the offensive line is going to have to bring its A-game in order to keep Manning on his feet. The Eagles enter this matchup with 34 sacks, tied for 11th in the NFL. Philly has made the pass rush its top priority on defense over the years, continuously adding piece after piece to its defensive line. Brandon Graham currently leads the team with 7.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss, while the always dangerous Fletcher Cox is right behind him with 3.5 sacks and 26 quarterback pressures. Rounding out the talented group upfront are Derek Barnett, Tim Jernigan, Josh Sweat and Vinny Curry. In 30 career games against the Eagles, Manning has been sacked 60 times. If the offensive line can give him time to operate in the pocket, Manning should be able to find success against a pass defense tied for 23rd in passing touchdowns allowed (22).
"(We're) going against a good defense we 've faced a number of years, (we) know them well," Manning said earlier this week. "Just have to get back in the mix with the offensive line and receivers, make sure timing is where it needs to be."
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