Eye On the Eagles: Scouting Report

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants will try to win their third consecutive game while simultaneously ending a four-game losing streak in Philadelphia when they face the Eagles in Lincoln Financial Field. A Giants victory would give the teams identical 4-7 records. Philadelphia has had the upper hand in this rivalry for a decade, winning four in a row and 17 of the last 21 meetings, including one in the playoffs and a 34-13 triumph in MetLife Stadium on Oct. 11. The Giants’ lead in the series has closed to 83-82-2.

What is the Eagles’ biggest strength?

Their style of play. The Eagles are built to control the ball on offense (their average time of possession of 31:24 was tied for second entering Week 12), limit the time their defense spends on the field, and get after the opposing quarterback. The formula has slid off-center lately because the offense isn’t as balanced as it was last year or earlier in this season. When the teams met last month, the Eagles were second in the NFL with 110.8 yards per game on the ground. They are currently 12th, and their average has fallen to 98.2. But Philly is still formidable, because Carson Wentz and the passing attack have risen from 19th to 14th in the league, though their average per game has climbed just four yards, to 257.0.

Which player is key to the Eagles’ offense?

Running back Josh Adams, who did not carry the ball in Philadelphia’s victory against the Giants in the first meeting. Since then, the rookie free agent from Notre Dame has become the Eagles’ top ground gainer, with 27 carries for 178 yards (6.6-yard avg.) and one touchdown. Darren Sproles has played in just one game this season because of a hamstring injury, and Adams has moved ahead of Wendell Smallwood (20 carries for 56 yards in the same four games). A bruiser at 6-2 and 225 pounds, Adams is the back Philly has turned to in order to boost the rushing game.

What is the strength of the Eagles’ offense?

Wentz throwing to tight end Zach Ertz and the team’s other formidable receivers. Ertz has been outstanding all season. His 103 targets and 77 receptions are 33 and 31 more, respectively, than anyone else on the team. Ertz is Wentz’s safety valve. Wentz will target him early and, if no one else is free as he goes through his progressions, throw to him late. Alshon Jeffery missed the first three games while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, but has regained his status as a Wentz favorite. The Eagles try to get both Ertz and Jeffery in one-on-one mismatches. Golden Tate, acquired from Detroit at the trade deadline, is a tremendous third-down player. Nelson Agholor is consistently productive, and tight end Dallas Goedert is a red zone threat.

Which player is key to the Eagles’ defense?

Last month it was tackle Fletcher Cox, who deserves this designation anytime the Eagles take the field. But we’ll go with defensive end Michael Bennett, who in the last four games has been the top performer on Philly’s exceptional front. In a six-game stretch from Sept. 30-Nov. 11, Bennett had 5.5 sacks and 16 quarterback hits. He has received more reps than he did earlier in the season because Derek Barnett, last year’s first-round draft choice, is on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. Bennett has responded with consistent production and by inflicting several violent hits on quarterbacks.

What is the strength of the Eagles’ defense?

The pass rush generated by the front seven. Philadelphia has four players among the top 25 in the league in quarterback pressures and hits – Cox (47), Bennett (32), Chris Long (25) and Graham (23). This is a unit that constantly creates havoc up front. Eli Manning doesn’t have to be told. The Eagles sacked him four times last month.

Which player stands out on the Eagles’ special teams?

Cameron Johnston, the Australian native who has become one of the NFL’s best punters in his first season in the league. He ranks third with a 43.0-yard net average and second with a 48.6-yard gross average. With his strong leg, Johnson has become a formidable weapon.

Based on the scouting report, what must the Giants do to win the game?

Score points. Yes, that sounds absurdly elementary. But the Giants will help their cause immeasurably if they can get an early lead because Philadelphia has struggled this season when forced to play from behind. The Eagles’ winning formula includes taking and keeping a lead, on both sides of the ball.

Eagles injury report:

Philly’s secondary has been, if not decimated, then sharply compromised by injuries. Almost every one of their defensive backs is hurt. Last month, the Eagles’ starting cornerbacks in MetLife were Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills. Darby is now injured reserve, and Mills has missed the last two games with a foot injury. Safety Rodney McLeod is on IR with a knee injury. Sidney Jones played nickel back vs. the Giants and started on the outside last week in New Orleans injured his hamstring. Rasul Douglas and Avonte Maddox (who started at safety vs. the Giants last month) each have knee and ankle injuries. Chandon Sullivan and De’Vante Bausby have been on and off the practice squad. Other than safety Malcolm Jenkins, it is uncertain exactly who will line up in Philly’s secondary on Sunday.

Statistics you should know:

*In the last three seasons, Ertz finished with 75, 78 and 74 receptions. This year, he has 77 – with six games to play.

*The Giants are 6-9 in the regular season and 0-1 in the postseason in Lincoln Financial Field, where they last won in 2013.

*The Giants lost their last two games in the Linc by a combined eight points.

*Eli Manning has been sacked 28 times in Lincoln Financial Field, more than any other visiting stadium. But he was not sacked in either of the Giants’ last two games there, including in 2016, when he threw a career-high 63 passes.

Keep an eye on these five players as the Giants take on the Eagles Sunday in Philly

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