There’s no question that next Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles will be the most important game of the season for the New York Giants. Their season hangs in the balance, as a loss would effectively put any sort of play-off hopes out of reach.
The Giants need to beat the Eagles and push forward on to the Bears to have any mathematical chance of even competing in the NFC East – they’re currently three games out of first place and have lost once to every team in the division. The divisional matchups are ultimately the most important, since the tie breaker would go to the team with the head-to-head advantage (unless they’re tied).
But, the primary question to be asked is:
How can the Giants derail the Eagles in Philly?
The recipe for beating the defending Super Bowl champs is actually quite simple…score, a lot. The Giants have been one of the worst teams in stopping the run and rushing the passer this season,Â allowingÂ 125.4 rushing yards per gameÂ this season and 152.3 per game over the last three games.
Carson Wentz will surely put up a fight against a defense that features a slew of rookies on the defensive line. Putting pressure on him will be essential, which should bring out the creativity in defensive coordinator James Bettcher. Eagles’ Zach Ertz will play a big-role in their game-plan, considering the Giants’ inadequacies with covering opposing offense’s tight ends. Big Blue simply lacks the presence of a true cover linebacker, which will queue the likes of safety Michael Thomas.
Thomas emerged as a game-changer in coverage last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He secured an interception while covering tight end OJ Howard just before half-time that stopped Tampa from scoring and gaining momentum into the second-half. The score would have been 14-14 and the outcome might have been drastically different. Plays like that go a long way in changing the course of the game, and the Giants will need those types of plays to keep the Eagles at bay.
On the offensive side of the ball, running back Saquon Barkley will have his work cut out for him after a busy weekend against the Bucs. He finished the day with nearly 150 yards on the ground and three overall scores. Head coach Pat Shurmur will surely make him the focal point of the offense again, but the defensive line of the Eagles will present a greater challenge. I would like to see a lot of play-action to keep the defense focused on Barkley while players like Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard run freely into space.
I’m anticipating a bigger impact from Engram in week 12, considering his lack of influence the past few weeks. After his fourth-down drop against the Redskins, Engram has been schemed out of the game to a certain degree. This is the game where he earns his wings back.