The Giants are coming off their second win of the season after defeating the Washington Football Team, 23-20, in Week 9. Daniel Jones completed nearly 68 percent of his passes for 212 yards and a touchdown, while the offense rushed for a season-high 166 yards (Wayne Gallman and Alfred Morris rushed for over 65 yards apiece). The defense recorded three interceptions of Washington QB Alex Smith, while holding the RB duo of Antonio Gibson and JD McKissic to 37 total yards on the ground.
This week, the Giants will welcome the Philadelphia Eagles to MetLife Stadium for the second meeting between the division rivals in four weeks.
The Eagles are coming off their bye week in Week 9, which came at a great time for Doug Pederson's squad. The week off allowed many of Philly's injured players to rest up in preparation for this NFC East matchup. Prior to the bye, the Eagles took on the Cowboys and emerged with a 23-9 victory to bring their record to 3-4-1.
Here are five storylines to follow heading into Week 10.
Can DJ keep the offense rolling?
After struggling to move the ball in the first few games of the season, the Giants' offense has picked it up in recent weeks. In the first six games, the Giants hit 300 total yards of offense just once (300 vs. Dallas in Week 5). The unit has topped that mark in each of the last three games, averaging 344 total yards of offense and just over 22 points per game during that span. The offense topped 20 points in only one of the first six outings.
One reason for the offensive success has been the performance of Daniel Jones. Jones finished with less 200 passing yards in four of five games prior to Week 8. Jones threw for 256 yards and two touchdowns against the Buccaneers, before following that up with 212 yards, one touchdown and a 67.7 completion percentage against Washington's top-ranked pass defense in Week 9. In addition, Jones has at least one touchdown pass in each of the last four games (six total) after going four consecutive outings without throwing for a score.
"I like the way the offense is playing," head coach Joe Judge said earlier this week. "I think there's a lot of aggressiveness with how we're calling plays right now. There's a lot of aggressiveness in terms of how we're playing and executing on the field, starting up front with the run blocking and the pass protection from the offensive line. I see that carryover in everything. When Daniel has a nice clean pocket, he's been very productive. He's been able to make plays in scramble situations as well. The offensive line really set the table for us this week to play a good, clean game and complementary with the run and the pass game."
The Eagles enter this Week 10 matchup with one of the league's better pass defenses. Philadelphia's unit ranks fourth in the NFL with 209.4 passing yards allowed per game, and their 13 passing touchdowns allowed is tied for the ninth-best mark in the league. The last time we saw the Eagles, they were facing off against Ben DiNucci in his first career start. DiNucci went 21-of-40 for 180 yards and was sacked four times. The Eagles rank third in the NFL with 28 sacks.
Continued success on the ground
The Giants had their strongest overall performance on the ground against Washington last week. The team finished with 166 rushing yards and a touchdown on 35 carries (4.7 avg.). Wayne Gallman led the way with 14 carries for 68 yards (4.9 avg.) and a score, while Alfred Morris was right behind him with 67 yards on nine rush attempts (7.4 avg.). Five other players combined for the remaining 31 rushing yards.
Following a slow start to the season on the ground, the Giants' run game has played well as of late. The offense averaged 56.7 rushing yards per game through the first three weeks. In the six games since, Big Blue is averaging 130.7 rushing yards per game, including four games of 130+ rushing yards. In the last two games, most of that production has come from the running backs, as Daniel Jones has rushed for a combined 24 yards.
The Eagles' defense ranks 10th in the league in total yards allowed, but the area to attack them appears to be on the ground. Philadelphia is 24th in the NFL with its 130.8 rushing yards allowed per game (4.4 avg.). They yielded 115+ rushing yards in six of their first eight games, including their last outing against the Cowboys (133 yards). Jim Schwartz's unit has also given up 11 rushing touchdowns (tied for the sixth-most).
"Wayne, I tell you, he's an explosive guy, he's also good out of the backfield," Eagles head coach Doug Pederson told reporters this week. "It's a good mix of backs that they're using – of course, Devonta [Freeman] is kind of the new addition and picking up the system, but a veteran player along with Dion Lewis. I mean, these guys are three different styles and you've got to be prepared for all of them, and then you throw in Daniel Jones.
"They're doing a lot more of the zone-read with him and I think it's something that has helped their run game, when you have an active quarterback like that that can run. It just adds to your defense – in this case our defense – to be prepared and to just continue to ready keys and be disciplined that way."
Spread the ball around
In the first meeting between these two teams in Week 7, Daniel Jones completed 20 passes for 187 yards to five different players. Sterling Shepard made his return to the field after missing the previous four games with turf toe and led the team with six receptions for 59 yards and a score. Evan Engram caught six passes for 46 yards, while Golden Tate recorded just one reception but made it count, taking it 39 yards for a touchdown. The Giants' other primary pass catcher, Darius Slayton, was held to just two receptions for 23 yards.
In the two games since, the Giants' passing game has seemingly made a stronger effort to get the ball into the hands of more players. Nine different guys caught at least one pass in the team's loss to the Buccaneers in Week 8, including five with at least two receptions. Shepard, Engram, Slayton and Tate combined for 20 receptions for 222 yards and a touchdown. In last week's win over Washington, we saw more of the same as Jones' 23 receptions went to 10 different players. Rookie undrafted receiver Austin Mack led the way in this one, finishing with four receptions for 72 yards, both of which were career-marks.
"He just keeps showing up," Judge said about Mack. "He's a guy that at times he may not flash all the time but does something that just jumps out at you. He just keeps making play after play and he shows up on a regular basis. For a young player, this guy is a smart player, he's an instinctive player. He's a guy that [receivers coach] Tyke [Tolbert] can take at any point in practice and if someone needs to come out for a rep, he just throws him in that position. It doesn't matter what it is. He knows everything on the field. He's very aware of what's going on around him. He understands what his strengths are, he understands what he needs to improve on as a rookie."
The Eagles have allowed 49 receptions to the tight end position this season, the third-most in the league. The 476 yards allowed to the position ranks eighth, while the six receiving touchdowns is tied for the third-most. The unit's production against opposing wide receivers has been much better, limiting wideouts to just 139.6 receiving yards per game, one of the league's best marks.
View rare photos of the historic rivalry between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles.
Stopping the run
The Giants did a great job of limiting Washington's run game in Week 9. Talented rookie back Antonio Gibson carried the ball six times and gained just 20 yards (3.3 avg.) against Big Blue, although he did find the end zone. J.D. McKissic added 17 yards, giving Washington 37 rushing yards for the game. It was the lowest number of rushing yards the Giants' defense has allowed this season, and the lowest total by an opponent since the Vikings ran for 30 yards in 2013.
The Giants are tied for fifth in the league with 94.8 rushing yards allowed per game. After allowing 141 yards and 135 yards, respectively, in the first two games of the season, the Giants have buckled down and allowed just one team to reach the 100-yard rushing mark in the seven games since (Dallas rushed for 126 yards in Week 5). Over that stretch, the defense is allowing an average of 82.4 rushing yards per game.
While we won't know for sure until the end of the practice week, it looks like the Eagles will be getting some key players back for this game. Running back Miles Sanders got off to a hot start this year as he ran for 95+ yards in three of five games and averaged 6.1 yards per carry on 71 rush attempts. Sanders is on track to suit up for the first time since Week 6 and it looks like he could have some of his big men back up front blocking for him. Right tackle Lane Johnson and left guard Isaac Seumalo are both scheduled to practice this week.
Limiting the pass-catchers
The group of skill position players that the Giants faced in Week 7 will not look the same as the one set to take the field Sunday. In the first meeting, tight end Richard Rodgers led the Eagles with six receptions for 85 yards. Wide receiver Travis Fulgham was Philly's leading wide receiver with five catches for 73 yards, while fellow wideout Greg Ward caught five passes for 42 yards and a touchdown. Rookie John Hightower added one long reception for 59 yards, while running back Boston Scott reeled in three passes for 46 yards and the winning touchdown.
While all of those players should be active for the Week 10 showdown, many of them are likely to play in different roles this time around. Philadelphia used its bye week to get healthy, as tight end Dallas Goedert, along with wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson and running back Miles Sanders, all appear on track to suit up this weekend. Jackson played in Week 7, but was forced to leave early with a hamstring injury. Goedert caught eight passes for 101 yards and a touchdown in Philly's Week 1 loss to Washington. The tight end plays a large role in the Eagles' aerial attack. Jeffery has yet to play this season, but in six career games against the Giants, the veteran has registered three TD catches.
"I think they're starting to get healthy across the board," linebacker Blake Martinez said. "It's going to be a different dynamic on what guy to focus on, what guy to see out there, certain formations they might add in, obviously, adding certain guys back. But I think overall, for us, it's just going to be focusing on what we can control for ourselves and getting those improvements."
Going up against Washington in Week 9, the Giants allowed Alex Smith to complete 75 percent of his passes for 325 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. A lot of that production went to Terry McLaurin and Cam Sims, who combined for 10 receptions for 225 yards and a score.