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Scouting Report: Eye on the Philadelphia Eagles


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants play their second Monday night game and second NFC East road game of the season this week when they face the Philadelphia Eagles in Lincoln Financial Field. Because of Daniel Jones' high ankle sprain, Eli Manning is expected to start at quarterback for the Giants for the first time since Week 2.

Both teams are looking to reverse their recent fortunes. The Eagles have lost three in a row and five of their last seven games and are 5-7. The Giants have an eight-game losing streak and are 2-10. Philadelphia has won five in a row and nine of the last 10 in the series, which is tied, 83-83-2 (and 2-2 in the postseason). In 2018, the Eagles defeated the Giants in MetLife Stadium, 34-13, and in Philly, 25-22.

What is the Eagles' biggest strength?

Though it didn't appear to be true in a 37-31 loss in Miami last week, it's an unrelenting defense that is at full strength after missing key players for several weeks. Before the Dolphins' offensive explosion, Philly allowed 17 or fewer points in four consecutive games. Tackle Tim Jernigan, middle linebacker Nigel Bradham and cornerbacks Jalen Mills (who spent the season's first six weeks on the physically unable to perform list), Ronald Darby and Avonte Maddox have all returned to the field after missing multiple games. The Eagles' run defense is ranked fourth in the league, allowing 91.0 yards a game. Their pass rush is starting to get home, with 13 sacks in the last four games (Philly had 10 sacks vs. the Jets in Week 5).

Which player is key to the Eagles' offense?

Quarterback Carson Wentz. When he plays well, the rest of the team usually follows his lead. The fourth-year pro is big and athletic and has a strong throwing arm and good chemistry with his receivers, particularly Zach Ertz. The tight end's 106 targets and 70 catches are 35 and 27, respectively, more than the team runner-up, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. Though he is 6-5, Wentz has outstanding escapability. He is particularly adept at eluding or breaking tackles in the pocket before locating a safe area from which to complete a pass.

What is the strength of the Eagles' offense?

The ability to execute its ball control formula, which has left them fifth in the league in both average time of possession (31:51) and average number of plays for scoring drives (8.55). It begins with an outstanding 1-2 punch at running back in Jordan Howard and rookie Miles Sanders, whose production suggests he should have been selected higher than No. 53 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft. Howard has rushed for 525 yards on 119 carries, while Sanders has 520 yards on 116 attempts. Howard has more rushing touchdowns (6-1) while Sanders has the advantage in receptions (32 with two scores to 10 and one). When defenses begin keying on the backs, the Eagles start using play action, which frequently leaves Ertz open in the middle of the field. When it works as designed, Philly is tough to beat.

Which player is key to the Eagles' defense?

This is not the first time defensive tackle Fletcher Cox has occupied this spot. A Pro Bowler each of the last four seasons and a 2018 All-Pro, the eight-year veteran is a powerful, athletic and explosive three-down player in the interior of Philadelphia's line. He is extremely tough to block in the run game and his pass rush is heating up with 3.0 sacks in the last five games.

What is the strength of the Eagles' defense?

The pass rush, which comes mostly from their talented and disruptive front four, which has accounted for 23 of Philly's 34 sacks (tied for 11th in the NFL). Right end Brandon Graham is a strong and powerful pass rusher who leads the team with 7.5 sacks, 13 tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries. Next to him is the violent Cox, who has 3.5 sacks and 26 quarterback pressures. Left end Derek Barnett is a hard-charger up the field with a good combination of athletic ability and power and a variety of moves. Jernigan missed four games with a foot injury, but he had four tackles and five pressures last week in Miami. Backups Josh Sweat, Vinny Curry and Daeshon Hall also factor into the pass rush equation.

Which player is key to the Eagles' special teams?

Kicker Jake Elliott has been a consistent performer in his three seasons in Philadelphia and recently received a contract extension. He has made 23 of 25 extra point attempts and 17 of 18 field goal tries, including a 53-yarder. This season, he became the first kicker in Philadelphia history to begin a season with 16 consecutive field goal success. Giants fans will never forget, nor forgive, his Eagles-record 61-yarder that beat the Giants as time expired in Lincoln Financial two years ago.

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

Offensively, limit the front four's pressure on Manning, who has been sacked 60 times in 30 career games vs. the Eagles. The Giants will have an easier time doing that if Saquon Barkley can find room to maneuver against Philly's outstanding run defense. Defensively, the Giants can't let the Eagles hold the ball for long possessions and must minimize Ertz's impact.

Statistics you should know:

*The Eagles have averaged 149.4 rushing yards in their five victories and 96.9 yards in their seven losses.

*Philadelphia is 4-1 on Monday Night Football since Doug Pederson became coach in 2016.

*Wentz has thrown at least one touchdown pass in 15 consecutive regular-season games, tying him with Seattle's Russell for the NFL's longest active streak. Wentz owns the franchise record with 22 consecutive games from 2016-18.

*Three-time Pro Bowler Malcolm Jenkins is one of five NFL defensive backs – and the only safety – with six or more interception return touchdowns since 2009. One of the others is Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who has seven.

*In 2018, Ertz set a franchise record with 116 receptions – 26 more than the previous standard set by running back Brian Westbrook in 2007 and 28 more than the Eagles wide receiver record (Irving Fryar's 88 in 1996).

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