EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -** The Giants will try to extend one streak and break a shorter one when they face the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday night in Lincoln Financial Field. With victories in their last three games, the Giants are looking for their first four-game winning streak since 2012. But against Philadelphia, they have lost their last two, and three of their last four, games.
The Eagles are 2-3, one game behind the Giants in the NFC East standings. Their three defeats were by a combined 15 points, and they missed critical field goal attempts in two of those losses. Last week, Philadelphia beat New Orleans, 39-17.
The Giants lead the all-time regular-season series, 82-76-2.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES OFFENSE
The Eagles are ranked 21st in the NFL with an average of 339.0 yards per game. They are 22nd in rushing yardage (93.2) and 13th in passing (245.8). Philadelphia is tied for 14th in scoring with an average of 23.4 points a game. But the Eagles have outscored their opponents in the second half, 80-50. Under coach Chip Kelly, Philadelphia uses a no-huddle attack the entire game. The Eagles get set over the ball and go; everything is done with speed, including the pace of the offense, reads and passes.
Philly has five new starters on offense: quarterback Sam Bradford, running back DeMarco Murray, wide receiver Nelson Agholor, left guard Allen Barbre and right guard Matt Tobin.
Bradford, acquired in a trade with St. Louis, went 23 months between starts because he twice tore his left ACL. He has completed 63.2 percent of his passes – 70.2 percent with a 102.0 passer rating in the second half. Bradford spreads the ball around; nine players have been targeted 10 or more times, and seven players have receiving touchdowns. Last week, Bradford became the eighth quarterback in franchise history to complete more than 70 percent of his passes while throwing for 330 yards. The backups are Mark Sanchez and Thaddeus Young.
The running backs and tight ends are an integral part of the Eagles' passing attack, as evidenced by the fact that three of their top four receivers are from those position groups. Ryan Mathews leads the team in rushing (205 yards and a 5.0-yard average) and has added eight catches, including a 23-yard touchdown. Mathews is an instinctive back with quickness and acceleration. Murray, who led the NFL in rushing last season with Dallas, was a big-ticket free agent acquisition. He is second on the team with 130 rushing yards and with 18 receptions. Murray plays with vision, power, speed, quickness and explosiveness, and he is a dangerous run-after-the-catch player. Darren Sproles is Philadelphia's third former Pro Bowl back. He is the Eagles' most dangerous and explosive weapon, and a triple threat as a runner (107 yards), receiver (16 catches) and returner (89-yard punt return). Fourth back Kenjon Barner does not have a carry this season. The Eagles do not carry a fullback on the roster.
Philadelphia has four receivers who are at least six feet tall, and three of them start. Jordan Matthews, who lines up in the slot, has been targeted 45 times, or 18 more than any of his teammates. He leads the team with 30 catches for 325 yards. Matthews has long arms, builds speed in his routes, and is effective crossing the field. Riley Cooper was bothered by a knee injury early in the season, but has looked better of late. He has good deep speed and ball skills. Agholor, the Eagles' first-round draft choice this year, has sudden movements, good feel as a route runner, and strong hands. Josh Huff plays with impressive speed and had the best game of his two-year career on Sunday, with four catches for 78 yards, including a 41-yard touchdown. Ten-year man Miles Austin is a savvy veteran with a good release plan and the ability to run numerous routes.
Playmakers on Eagles first-team offense, defense, and special teams, presented by Nike
Tight ends Brent Celek and Zach Ertz are familiar to the Giants. Celek is an early-down blocker who can help in pass protection. He is also a check-down target who finds voids in the defense. Ertz has seen his role expand this season and is the team's second-most targeted receivers. He builds speed down the seam and has soft hands. Trey Burton is the third tight end.
The Eagles lost two veteran leaders on their offensive line in Todd Herremans (now with Indianapolis) and Evan Mathis (Denver). The new leader of the unit is center Jason Kelce, a 2014 Pro Bowler with very good athletic ability and competitiveness. He plays with quickness and strength. Left tackle Jason Peters is a seven-time Pro Bowler with a massive (6-4, 328-pound) body. He is powerful, plays nasty, and moves the line of scrimmage. Right tackle Lane Johnson, a 2013 first-round draft choice, has excellent body range and covers up defenders in the run game. Barbre is an eight-year veteran who is starting for the first time at left guard. He has good initial quickness and quickly locates his target. Tobin is adept at walling off defenders at right guard. Dennis Kelly is a four-position backup with 13 career starts. The other backups are Josh Andrews and Tanner Hawkinson, who was signed this week of San Francisco's practice squad.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES DEFENSE
Former Giants linebackers coach Bill Davis is in his third season coordinating Philadelphia's defense, and he also replaced five starters in the offseason, including three in the secondary. The Eagles are 23rd in the NFL in yards allowed (376.4 a game), but a more impressive 11th in scoring defense (20.6 points per game). Philadelphia is 10th in rushing defense (96.8 yards a game), and 26th vs. the pass (279.6).
The three-man defensive line is young, tough and physical. Right end Fletcher Cox was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week after his career-best three-sack performance last week vs. New Orleans. Cox has speed, charges gaps quickly, and is difficult to handle on stunts. Cedric Thornton is the starting left end and an occasional sub defensive tackle. He is a quick gap charger who plays with high energy and is very active. Nose tackle Bennie Logan is Philadelphia's strongest point of attack player. He is a sneaky pass rusher with speed and athletic ability. Vinny Curry is a backup end and sub pass rusher who is strong on the edges. Backup nose tackle Beau Allen is big, thick and smart, and quickly locates the ball. Taylor Hart plays with good straightline speed. Brandon Bair has long arms and toughness.
Outside linebackers Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham are solid and productive. Barwin was a 2014 Pro Bowler after leading the NFC with 14.5 sacks. He plays the left side, where he is an active backer with good upfield movement and speed. Graham has a compact build, but plays with strength and power. Inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans is the signal-caller and a defensive leader, as well as a productive run-stopper. Mychal Kendricks has excellent speed, range and closing ability, but he and Kiko Alonso have been hampered by injuries. Jordan Hicks, who started in Week 3, gets around the ball and has a knack for avoiding blockers. He has four takeaways in the last three games. Marcus Smith, the team's 2014 first-round draft choice, Bryan Braman, Najee Goode and Brad Jones complete the linebacker corps.
The revamped secondary has played well. Malcolm Jenkins is an outstanding safety who leads the team with 40 tackles (28 solo), including eight for losses. He is smart, physical, and productive, he sees the entire field, and he is tough to run at. Walter Thurmond, who was with the Giants last year, has adjusted well in moving from corner to safety, as evidenced by his team-high three interceptions. He has natural cover skills and is aggressive in run support. Cornerback Byron Maxwell, who played the previous four seasons in Seattle, is a physical press corner with the strength to disrupt a receiver's release, and the length to knock down passes. Nolan Carroll, a nickel and dime back last year, is now a starting corner. He has good ball awareness, and starts and stops quickly. Chris Maragos gets snaps in the sub defenses, and plays a deep center field so the action stays in front of him. E.J. Biggers, Eric Rowe, Jerome Couplin and Denzel Rice complete the secondary.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES SPECIAL TEAMS
The Eagles have had some issues at kicker this season. Corey Parkey was placed on injured reserve with a groin injury on Sept. 29, He was replaced by Caleb Sturgis, who has missed one field goal and two extra point attempts. Left-footed punter Donnie Jones has a 40.6-yard net average and the ability to drop the ball inside the 20. Sproles is a dangerous punt returner who scored on an 89-yarder vs. the Jets. The Eagles have just three kickoff returns this season, two by Huff and one by Barner. Tight end Burton leads the Eagles with eight special teams tackles.
Keep an eye on these five players as the Giants face the Philadelphia Eagles this Monday Night