Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Giants: ITB Scouting Report
The Philadelphia Eagles (3-4-1) will travel to North Jersey on Sunday for a 1 p.m. game the New York Giants (2-7) at MetLife Stadium.
As dismal as their season appears on the surface, the Giants have quietly been playing like a team with intentions of shaking up the NFC East hierarchy in the coming weeks. Over the past three weeks, they came within a play of sinking the Eagles, pushed the Bucs to the brink, and outlasted a division rival for their second win.
Though still a far cry from being ready for prime time, Giants rookie head coach Joe Judge has the division’s perennial cellar-dweller seemingly trending in the right direction.
On the other hand, the Eagles will welcome back some much-needed offensive reinforcements and are coming off a welcomed bye week.
Eagles Offense vs. Giants Defense
TE Dallas Goedert vs. Giants LBs: Goedert failed to make much of an impact against Dallas in the passing game, but I suspect the Eagles will actively feed him the ball early and often this week. There isn’t a linebacker on the Giants who can run with Goedert – their best bet is safety Jabrill Peppers – so look for the Eagles to work the short-to-intermediate game with their multi-dimensional tight end. I think Goedert exploits the Giants on a middle-seam route for a big play.
WR Travis Fulgham vs. CB James Bradberry: Fulgham reeled in 73 yards on five catches in the Thursday night game, but the numbers can be deceiving. Forty of those 73 yards came on one catch when Fulgham was aligned at the Z position opposite Ryan Lewis. With reinforcements pending, it will be interesting to see how the snap share shakes out. Nevertheless, the Eagles have found a winning formula with Fulgham, so expect more of the same.
Eagles Defense vs. Giants Offense
DT Javon Hargrave vs. Giants’ interior OL: I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: The Eagles simply need more from their sizable free-agent investment. Yes, it’s true, much of what Hargrave does best doesn’t necessarily appear on the stat sheet, but he’s being compensated like an elite pocket-pusher. He needs to deliver in plus matchups. Aside from right guard Kevin Zeitler, the Giants sport a pedestrian interior line that provides little resistance. These are the battles in which Hargrave should thrive. Against a mobile quarterback like Daniel Jones, moving him off his spot and making him uncomfortable will be paramount to the Eagles’ success.
NCB Nickell Robey-Coleman vs. Sterling Shepard: Robey-Coleman has endured his share of ups and downs this season and will face a red-hot Shepard, who has parlayed 26 targets into 20 receptions over the past three weeks. Shepard wins on quickness, change of direction, and route-running savvy. The veteran receiver possesses tremendous short-area burst and spatial awareness and carves up secondaries on slant and Sluggo combos. With much of the focus on downfield burner Darius Slayton and the versatile Evan Engram, Robey-Coleman will need to stay in Shepard’s hip pocket – or Sunday could be easy pickings for Daniel Jones.
The Giants waived second-year cornerback/kick returner, Corey Ballentine, earlier this week, but Ballentine had already fallen out of favor and was replaced by veteran Dion Lewis at kick returner. Jabrill Peppers and Golden Tate, who served as the Giants’ punt returners in the first meeting, were replaced by wide receiver C.J. Board against Washington.
Neither player did anything of note in the return game in limited opportunities. Still, the Eagles’ coverage units must remain diligent in their assignments, as Board boasts explosive straight-line speed.
The Eagles have won 8 consecutive games against the Giants, as well as 12 of the previous 13 games in the series. Philadelphia is 89-86-2 (.508) all-time vs. Giants.
Kevin Kugler (play-by-play), Chris Spielman (analyst), Laura Okmin (sideline)
Eagles WR Jalen Reagor: Returning from injury against Dallas, Reagor (46) finished with the second-most snaps among Eagles wide receivers behind Travis Fulgham and Greg Ward (59). The rookie pass-catcher garnered six pass targets, parlaying them into three receptions for 16 yards and a touchdown. He also recorded a six-yard carry in his only attempt. When Wentz was searching for a completion to ice the game, he delivered a strike to Reagor in the end zone that ultimately fell incomplete.
Coming out of the bye week, Reagor is another week healthier. The coaching staff likely invested plenty of its idle time to scheming ways to incorporate its explosive rookie. He’ll have opportunities to capitalize against Giants’ No. 2 cornerback Isaac Yiadom.
Giants TE Evan Engram: Engram has yielded an astounding 29 pass targets over the past three weeks and reeled in his first touchdown last Sunday against Washington. The dynamic move tight end is a matchup nightmare for most linebackers and safeties, but he won’t have the luxury of drawing Nate Gerry in coverage this time. If you recall, Engram had position on Will Parks in the waning moments of Week 7, and likely would have sealed the game had it not been for an egregious drop.
The esteemed Eagles defensive line could very well hold the key to victory. While many expected a talented Eagles D-line to feast on a notoriously porous Giants offensive line three weeks ago, the results were underwhelming.
Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, and Nate Gerry each registered a sack, but anything less than a half-dozen against that line is considered disappointing.
First-round pick Andrew Thomas has been better at left tackle but is far from a finished product. Barnett and Josh Sweat must capitalize on that leaky left side while Graham remains disruptive on the other side.
The key here will be along the interior, where Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave – who have both been eerily quiet – must generate push against a replacement-level center in Nick Gates and Day 3 guard in Shane Lemieux.
The Giants enter this game coming off a hard-fought victory and have strung together three consecutive inspired performances. They’ll have momentum, and they arguably outplayed the Eagles the first time around, but the Eagles are getting healthy at the right time.
The team likely also used the bye week to self-assess and revert back to the drawing board to conjure more creativity from a play-calling standpoint. I expect it to be a closer contest than some might anticipate, but the better team will prevail.
Eagles 27, Giants 23
– Andrew DiCecco (@ADiCeccoNFL) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.