Special Guest Danielle McCartan Checks in this Week
The Philadelphia Eagles, lead by rookie phenom quarterback Carson Wentz, will travel northbound on the New Jersey Turnpike to MetLife Stadium, home of quarterback Eli Manning’s New York Giants. Sunday, November 6, 2016, will showcase a gritty clash of clans, as both teams are 4-3 entering week 9. Manning acknowledges the level of importance of this game: “all the division games are huge and I have been around long enough to know that once you get into November and December, they are all big games. They all mean something, it is all going to get tight in the division, so these are big games”
Currently, the Giants have the upper hand, as they are the only team in the NFL to have handed the Dallas Cowboys (the NFC East leader) a loss. The Giants are 3-3 in the conference whereas the Eagles are 2-3. When Giants general manager Jerry Reese was asked about goals in the divisional race, he replied: “We have to play one game at a time. I can’t remember when we beat the Eagles the last time. We need to get out here and play a good game on Sunday. Start with the Eagles.”
Late season football is heating up in arguably one of the toughest (and youngest) divisions in the National Football League. Manning said: “The young guys, the rookies, are playing at a high level and playing great football…. so I just have to keep up with the young guys and make sure that I am playing good football [too].” The Giants confidence in this matchup resides in 12-year veteran, 2x Super Bowl champion, and 35 year-old Captain Manning’s level of experience. After all, what does 23 year-old rookie Wentz know about the bitterly intense Eagles and Giants rivalry?
Currently, the Eagles have the momentum working against them, as they left Dallas licking their wounds after an overtime shootout with the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football’s national stage. Manning “watched the first half and then called it a night, so [he] didn’t get into the second half. Adding: “[they] will break it down on film. It is always tough to kind of tell exactly what a team is doing from the TV version, it is better to watch it on film.”
The Giants, conversely, are well-rested, energized, and are coming off a mid-season bye week. Manning explained the importance of the pause: “it is a great time to get that bye week. It is right in the middle of the season, we have been going for a long time, rest the body, rest the mind, but also know that we are coming back and being fully recharged and ready to make a run.” GM Reese approached the bye week with a lasseiz-faire attitude, relling reporters he “went to a college game this past weekend” and “Didn’t keep track [of other NFL action] very much.” With some key injuries (including Eli Apple, Darian Thompson, Nat Berhe, etc.) Coach Ben McAdoo, optimistically said: “We have some guys who are working through some things today. We'll know more Wednesday. But today was a good start to the week.”
Giants Keys to the game:
1. Offensive Efficiency. Besides a running game that ranks dead last in rushing yards and rushing yards per game, efficiency and execution have restricted the Giants this entire season. Coach McAdoo agrees: “we need to run the ball a little bit better but we need to execute.” Over the course of the season, the Giants have been abysmal on third down, converting only 34.9% of the time (30.8% vs. Rams in London). Their red zone efficiency leaves much to be desired, as well: ranked 29th in the league (42.1%). At home? The Giants are even worse. They have only scored on 20% of their trips to the red zone at MetLife Stadium.
2. Effective third down defense. The Giants are 25th in the league in third down defense and have allowed their opponents to successfully convert 43.2% of the time. Giants’ safety Landon Collins has this concept in mind entering Sunday’s game “We’re making it a key concept to get off the field on third downs. We’re getting off the field, but we want to make it a point to get more ‘three and outs.’ Have their percentage be at least under 35 percent.” That may not be too difficult. The Eagles offense has struggled on 3rd down, ranking 29th in the league in efficiency (34.8% conversion rate).
3. Contain the Eagles’ pass rush. The Eagles defense will enter MetLife Stadium tied with the third most sacks in the league (26). The Giants are prepared for it. Manning explains: “Their pass rush has been very good and some games they will bring some pressure in blitzes, but for the most part it is their front four getting pressure on the quarterback…. They have good push, so it is going to be a great challenge for our offensive line. We have to understand that we are going up against maybe the most talented defensive front that we will face and we have a big challenge ahead of us.” Concerns about the health and robustness of the Giants’ offensive line may be overblown: it has allowed Manning to be dropped behind the line of scrimmage only 11 times this season, tied for second least.
4. Contain QB Carson Wentz. It is no secret that 1st round draft-pick Wentz has been the Eagles’ savior this season. What are his dominant qualities? Collins explains: “[Mobility]. Has a great arm. Keeps his eyes down field. Great vision down the field and can make things happen.” The Giants secondary may have the advantage this week as they are coming off a dominating 4 INT performance in London. Additionally, in that game, Collins returned an interception 44 yards for a touchdown.
Collins remains optimistic for a Giants win on Sunday. “We’re trying to be one of those teams that’s on top at the end of this road.” When asked for Manning’s favorite Giants/Eagles memories, he responded: “Early on I hit Plaxico for a game winner in overtime in Philadelphia, first one that popped into my head, maybe in 05, 06”. Fans can expect a wild, tight game on Sunday. “We always seem to have a lot of tight games against the Eagles and some big game against them, so you always know you are going to get a tough opponent, a physical team and so I am looking forward to this matchup (Manning)”.
Eagles at Giants, 1pm, MetLife Stadium
Radio: WFAN 660AM & 101.9FM