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Film study: Breaking down the Giants-Eagles matchup

Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz gets tackled by New York Giants defensive back Michael Thomas and outside linebacker Alec Ogletree after the catch during the second half of the NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018, in Philadelphia. The Eagles won 25-22. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz gets tackled by New York Giants defensive back Michael Thomas and outside linebacker Alec Ogletree after the catch during the second half of the NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018, in Philadelphia. The Eagles won 25-22. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Sunday's Giants-Philadelphia, the regular season finale, has playoff implications for the Eagles, who can clinck the NFC East title with a victory. If the Eagles lose, they can still make the playoffs if the Cowboys lose to the Redskins at home.

The Giants played the Eagles three weeks ago, so fans should be very familiar with their personnel and scheme. The Eagles have suffered a few injuries that will affect how they play, so here's what fans need to know heading into Sunday.

When The Eagles Have The Ball

* The Eagles' wide receiver corps is decimated. Alshon Jeffery is on injured reserve. DeSean Jackson is out but could return if Philly makes the playoffs. Nelson Agholor hasn't played since week 13 with a knee injury. That leaves Greg Ward and rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (who is battling a foot injury) as their top wide receivers. Ward has 11 catches for 132 yards in his last two games, while Arcega-Whiteside had two catches for 39 yards last week versus Dallas. Robert Davis, a 6th round pick of the Redskins in 2017, was signed to the Eagles practice squad in October and added to the 53-man roster on December 12. He has two career receptions for 17 yards. Deontay Burnett was added from the practice squad earlier in the week, where he spent only 12 days before being promoted. He has 10 career catches for 143 yards, all coming in 2018 with the New York Jets.

* It is possible the Eagles will get running back Jordan Howard back on the field this week. He has not played since Week Nine because of a shoulder injury. If he is able to play, he gives the Eagles a tough between-the-tackles back who can be used on early downs, short yardage situations and in the red zone.

* The Eagles have shifted the focus of their offense to their running backs and tight ends. In the last two weeks, running back Miles Sanders had 11 catches on 12 targets for 127 yards. Fellow running back Boston Scott had 13 catches for 46 yards. They use Scott and Sanders on screen passes, throws to the perimeter and down the field to create big plays in the passing game. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), the Eagles have run 19 screen passes the past two weeks, the most in the NFL.

* Philadelphia also involves its tight ends in the screen game. Over the past two weeks, Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert have combined for 23 catches for 235 yards and two touchdowns. Ertz, the Eagles leading receiver this season, missed time in the Cowboys game last week with a rib injury and missed practice this week. Multiple media reports indicate he played through a fractured rib that could keep him out of Sunday's game. Goedert led the Eagles in receiving against Cowboys last week with nine catches for 91 yards. He was used as a downfield threat more against Dallas once Ertz was no longer in the game.

* The Eagles are also dealing with injuries to their offensive line. Lane Johnson hasn't played since injuring himself against the Giants in Week 14 and missed practice early in the week. If he can't play, Halapoulivaati Vaitai would get the start at right tackle. He has 22 career regular season and postseason starts. Right guard Brandon Brooks was limited in practice earlier in the week and is expected to play. In the past two weeks, Wentz is being pressured on 24.7% of his dropbacks, the third highest rate in the league, according to PFF. Despite the high pressure rate, Wentz has only been sacked on 3.2% of his dropbacks, which is the 8th best rate in the NFL. Wentz is still very adept at avoiding pressure and making plays off-schedule. He is playing his best football of the season despite playing without many of his top weapons at wide receiver.

Keys For The Giants Defense

1. Cover tight ends down the seam

2. Stay aware of Eagles screen passes 

3. Be prepared for trick plays and other misdirection

When The Giants Have The Ball

* Since the Giants and Eagles last met, Philly placed cornerback Ronald Darby on injured reserve with a hip injury. Darby was the cornerback wide receiver Darius Slayton had success against in the Week 14 matchup. Jalen Mills, who is dealing with an ankle injury, remains as one of the starters. Rasul Douglas will replace Darby in the starting lineup, but Sidney Jones may get an opportunity for additional snaps. Avonte Maddox is the Eagles nickel cornerback. Last week, the Eagles held Dak Prescott to only 168 passing yards through the first three quarters of the game.

* The Eagles had to play without third-year defensive end Derek Barnett when they played the Giants three weeks ago, but he returned and played through his ankle injury against the Cowboys last week. He played 45 snaps (73% of defensive snaps). He did not manage a quarterback hit or a sack, but he did have one hurry and tackle for loss in the run game, according to PFF. 

* All the other starters on the Eagles defense are the same as the last time these two teams met in Philadelphia on December 9.

Keys for the Giants Offense

1. Attack down the field against man to man defense

2. Give Daniel Jones time to find those receivers

3. Continue Saquon Barkley's late season surge

Giants vs. Eagles Broadcast Info: TV channel, Radio Station and Live Stream


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