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Giants vs. Eagles Storylines: What to watch for

12-20-snacks.jpg's Dan Salomone highlights five storylines to follow in Week 16: **

  1. WIN AND IN**

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The New York Giants are one victory away from playing in their first postseason game since Super Bowl XLVI. Their simplest path to clinching a berth is winning at least one of the final two games on the road against Philadelphia and Washington. At 10-4, the team is in position to do so following consecutive wins over Dallas and Detroit. Now the Giants have a quick turnaround for a Thursday night game against the Eagles, whom they have not beaten at Lincoln Financial Field since 2013. Big Blue, however, defeated Philadelphia, 28-23, in the first meeting of the season at MetLife Stadium.

"Each year the goal is to win a championship," quarterback Eli Manning said. "That does not change. That's kind of the far goal. Each week you have kind of a near-sighted goal. Something on the game in performance, making improvements in your own play and the offensive and defensive play. It's ultimately to give yourself an opportunity to win a championship."


The Giants placed running back Shane Vereen (triceps) and backup quarterback Ryan Nassib (elbow) on injured reserve this week. To fill the roster spots, the Giants promoted linebacker Ishaq Williams from their practice squad and signed running back George Winn. Vereen previously missed nine games with a torn triceps that he suffered against Washington Sept. 25 and was activated for victories over Dallas and Detroit before suffering another injury.

Meanwhile, it's too early to tell on Thursday's game status for cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who suffered a back injury in the second quarter of last week's game. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (core muscle) and safety Nat Berhe (concussion) were inactive in Week 15 because of injuries. The following players also appear on this week's injury report: defensive end Owa Odighizuwa (knee), long snapper Zak DeOssie (hamstring), linebackers Jonathan Casillas (knee) and Keenan Robinson (shoulder), and offensive linemen Will Beatty (lower leg) and Marshall Newhouse (shoulder).


NFL history is riddled with teams that won free agency but lost the season. Not these Giants, though. Led by a series of high-profile signings, general manager Jerry Reese and company gave defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo the pieces to rebuild a defense that currently ranks No. 3 in scoring behind perennial Super Bowl contenders New England and Seattle. The Giants are coming off two of their best defensive performances in recent memory, holding Dallas and Detroit – two division leaders – to a combined 13 points.

"[Spagnuolo has] done a really good job," said defensive tackle Damon Harrison, one of the notable free agents signed over the offseason. "Historically, the defense speaks for itself because it's a Super Bowl-winning defense, championship defense. It was just a matter of getting everyone in the right position and getting everyone to buy in and used to playing with each other. That's tough when you bring in a new group like we've done this offseason. It's a credit to him in getting guys to buy in and play together."


Rookie running back Paul Perkins averaged 4.2 carries for 15.4 yards in the Giants' first 12 games, but the fifth-round pick out of UCLA has averaged 13 for 50.5 in the last two games. Add in the return of starting left guard Justin Pugh, who missed five weeks because of a knee injury, and the Giants are looking to lean on the run game down the final stretch. They did so against the Cowboys and Lions, rushing the ball more than 30 times in each game. They had done that only once before in Week 2.

"I think we're getting a lot of reps," Manning said. "Defenses are giving us good looks to run the ball and we're taking advantage of that. The offensive line is doing a good job creating some holes. Running backs are also making some guys miss tackles. That's usually how you get some big runs. Those running backs are going to have to make a safety or some of those big guys miss. The offensive line has to do their job in getting past the first and second line of defense. After that, that's on the running back to make a guy miss and get that big play." Added Perkins: "Any running back gets more comfortable the more touches they get. It's crucial for us to be able to run the ball in December."


Led by rookie quarterback Carson Wentz, the second pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Eagles are 20th in total yards per game (340.4), 24th in passing (227.5), ninth in rushing (112.9) and 16th in points (22.6). Wentz is completing 62.8 percent of his passes with 13 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Ryan Mathews leads the way on the ground with 137 carries for 615 yards and eight touchdowns. Jordan Matthews, one of the many talented receivers from the 2014 NFL Draft Class, has 71 receptions for 792 yards and three touchdowns.

Defensively, the Eagles are 12th in yards (344.2), 12th against the pass (239.3), 17th against the run (104.9) and 13th in scoring (21.4). They are tied with the Giants and Dolphins for 14th in the NFL with 31 sacks, 6.5 of which have come from defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. Philadelphia has a plus-two turnover differential thanks to 21 takeaways, tied with the Giants for 12th-most in the league.

Photos from the all-time series between the Giants and Eagles

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