Everything you need to know about the Week 14 Monday Night matchup between the New York Giants (2-10) and Philadelphia Eagles (5-7):
The return of Eli. Due to an ankle sprain suffered by Daniel Jones in last week's game against the Packers, Eli Manning is back in the starting lineup. Manning began the season as the Giants' starting quarterback, playing in the first two games before the team decided to go to the rookie. Going up against two tough pass defenses in Dallas and Buffalo, Manning completed 62.9% of his passes for 556 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Throughout his 15-year career, the veteran QB has racked up more passing yards against the Eagles than any other team in the NFL.
"He looks good," Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula said about Manning. "He's had a good week. He always has a good look in his eye. He's been great for me as a coach, to be around. I've learned a lot from him. I look forward to watching him on Monday night."
Injury report. OUT: CB Corey Ballentine (concussion), TE Rhett Ellison (concussion), TE Evan Engram (foot), QB Daniel Jones (ankle), LB Chris Peace (knee- injured reserve), S Jabrill Peppers (back- injured reserve).
Saquon getting back to his old self. Saquon Barkley told reporters Thursday that he finally feels like he's getting back to his old self after suffering a high ankle sprain in Week 3. This was evident last week as Barkley ran for 83 yards on 4.4 yards per carry against Green Bay, his highest marks since the injury. The Pro Bowl running back had tremendous success against Philadelphia last season, totaling 371 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns in the two games against the division foe. Barkley has his work cut out for him this week, as the Eagles enter this Monday night matchup ranking fourth in the NFL with 91.0 rushing yards allowed per game.
Run defense stepping up. Since acquiring Leonard Williams in a mid-season trade with the Jets, the Giants have been dominant against the run. Over the last three games, the Giants have limited their opponents to 81 rush attempts for 220 yards, or 2.7 yards per carry, while going up against Le'Veon Bell, Aaron Jones and David Montgomery. The surging run defense will be faced with yet another tough challenge this week. Philadelphia's offense wants to control the time of possession by pounding the ball with its 1-2 punch of Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders. Both backs have rushed for over 500 yards this season, helping the Eagles earn the fifth-highest average time of possession (31:51) in the NFL.
Smith gets another start. With Engram and Ellison both out, Kaden Smith will once again start. The rookie tight end has performed well in that role over the last two weeks, catching his first career touchdown against the Bears and then leading the team with six receptions for 70 yards against the Packers.
"He's done a good job each week getting better," Shula said. "He's still learning the offense. He knows the offense, he's a smart guy. But just all the kind of little adjustments that you make last minute or just coverage tweaks or things that the quarterbacks might be looking for. I think he's, from what we've seen, just going to continue to get better. He's proven that he can make some plays and catch the ball, make contested catches and hold onto it. Hopefully he'll stay on that trend."
Love looks strong in first extended action. Since taking over for the injured Jabrill Peppers against Chicago, Julian Love has played extremely well. He picked up his first career interception against the Bears, and followed that up with his first career forced fumble against the Packers. Love's play against Green Bay earned him an overall grade of 83.7 from Pro Football Focus, making him the highest-graded Giant in last week's game, according to PFF. It was Love's second consecutive game with a PFF grade of 80.0 or higher.
"I think part of how Julian's playing right now is the fact that he's worked the process all along," Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher said Friday. "Four weeks ago, eight weeks ago, I saw a guy that was in the meeting with his feet on the ground, taking great notes, paying attention, asking A.B. (Antoine Bethea) questions, asking questions in the position meeting room. When we were doing walk-thru, he might not have been getting the reps, but he was back behind taking mental reps and building for his moment, so that when his moment came he was able to play as fast as his mind would allow him to. I think that's why he's playing like he is right now, because in the moments that led up to it, he was doing the work that he needed to do."
O-line must keep close eye on Cox. Throughout his first seven seasons, Fletcher Cox has been named to four Pro Bowls while earning four All-Pro nominations. This season, the talented defensive lineman has collected 32 tackles (21 solo), 3.5 sacks, 5 tackles for loss, 8 QB hits and two forced fumbles. Despite a down year by his standards, Cox is still one of the top defensive tackles in the NFL. The offensive line will have to give special attention to the 28-year-old DT come Monday night.
"Fletcher Cox is like easily one of my favorite players in the league to watch," Barkley told reporters earlier this week. "Obviously, he's well known, but I don't think he gets enough respect as he should from what I've taken as we've played him. Those last two games last year, I remember there was a run where I broke out to the outside and it ended up being a penalty, but I got like a 10-yard run on it and it felt like a DB was chasing me and I looked up and it was 91. So, he's a heck of a player"
Preparing for Ertz. In today's NFL, it's rare to see a tight end be the number one option in the passing game. But such is the case with Zach Ertz and the Eagles. Ertz leads the team with 70 receptions for 736 yards, while his 106 targets (11th in the NFL) are 35 more than any other Philadelphia pass-catcher. The Giants on the other hand enter this matchup with the third-fewest yards allowed to tight ends. While they have been stingy against tight ends this season, the defense knows just how big of a challenge they face Monday night with Ertz.
"He has good size, he has good quickness, he has good speed and he uses all of his attributes to the best of his ability," Coach Shurmur said about Philadelphia's Pro Bowl tight end. "He can uncover in a short area, but he can also make contested catches. They do a good job of playing above the rim at times, where Carson Wentz being a tall quarterback, and Ertz being a taller target, they can complete those high balls, which is obviously part of what they do. He's one of the better tight ends in the league. He's one of the best, and it's showed up year after year."
Giants have chance to play spoiler. While the Giants have been eliminated from playoff contention, the Eagles have a lot on the line. A victory this week would put Philadelphia in a tie for the lead in the NFC East. All four of the Eagles' remaining games are against division opponents, including a pivotal Week 16 showdown against Dallas. The Giants play the Eagles twice in a 20-day span, with an opportunity to spoil Philadelphia's playoff hopes during this final stretch of the regular season.
"We still have four games, there is still a lot of football season left," Eagles Head Coach Doug Pederson said earlier this week. "By no means have we been eliminated for postseason and all of that. Those are things that I can continue to express to the team, that there is still a lot of football ahead of us and we've got a great opportunity, obviously, on Monday night. Look, we've got to fix some issues first that have kept us from playing our best football and that's what we'll focus on and work on those things this week."
It's not always sunny in Philadelphia. For the second consecutive week, it looks like the Giants will have to prepare for the elements. The forecast for Monday night shows a 90% chance of rain with winds over 10 mph. The Giants were able to accumulate 335 yards of total offense against the Packers last week in the rain, snow and ice, and will again have to prepare for less than ideal game conditions.
View rare photos of the historic rivalry between the Giants and Eagles, which dates back to 1933.
Giants vs. Eagles Broadcast Info: TV channel, Radio Station and Live Stream.