Ah, another edition of Eagles-Giants Sunday Night Football is upon us.
Following two 1 p.m. kicks against the NFC East rival last season, it is nice to be back in primetime again. After all, this was an annual thing from 2007-2012 before a brief hiatus in 2013.
The Eagles are winners of the last four Sunday Night matchups against the Giants going back to December 2009, but getting to five may be tougher than originally expected. The birds are sitting somewhat pretty at 4-1 but have not looked great doing it and enter the highly anticipated contest with a depleted offensive line and banged up linebacker core.
After losing to Drew Stanton at home to fall to 0-2, the Giants have gone from the brink of disaster to winners of three straight. They are confident, and in a way, the game may be more important to them. The Eagles will at worst go into their bye week 4-2, but Tom Coughlin’s squad travels to face the surprising Cowboys next Sunday and then follow that up with a stretch against the Colts, Seahawks, and Niners after their bye.
A lot is at work, but if the Eagles win, they will be in excellent shape in a shockingly decent NFC East regardless of how this Seahawks-Cowboys game ends.
Here are five numbers that I believe could lead to a big home victory tonight:
- At least two Eli Manning interceptions — In the Eagles most recent five wins in this rivalry, Manning has thrown nine total interceptions. He looks like a reborn man under new Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, but part of the reason I am picking the Eagles is because I’m banking on a couple key second half turnovers (and subsequent Manning faces). You hearing this, Malcolm Jenkins?
- Less than 60 yards for Victor Cruz — Since becoming a part of this rivalry in 2011, Cruz has averaged 90.5 yards per game and turned in five touchdowns in six contests. When he plays well against the Eagles, the Giants seem to play pretty well against the Eagles. It will be up to Brandon Boykin to stop that from happening tonight.
- More than 70 yards for Zach Ertz — After racing out to an insane start through two games, Ertz has been pretty quiet as of late. He has not totaled more than four receptions or more than 43 yards over his most recent three games and even had a costly fumble against the 49ers two weeks ago. I think him exploiting the Giants linebackers could be key to jumpstart Nicky Foles and the Eagles offense should they go stagnant at some point. The stars come out on Sunday Night. Do the damn thing, my dude.
- A minimum of six carries for Darren Sproles — In Week 1 against the Jaguars, Sproles carried the rock 11 times for 71 yards. Since then, he has received only 14 carries. If the Eagles are going to make a deep January run, LeSean McCoy will need to find his 2013 self at some point, but right now, they need to win a key divisional game, and Sproles is averaging 6.9 yards per carry. He needs to touch the ball. Please, Chip.
- One special teams or defensive touchdown from the Eagles — The Eagles have scored at least one special teams touchdown in their last three games and at least one defensive touchdown in past two games. Conventional wisdom would suggest that has to end at some point, right? Yes, but maybe not tonight as there is some history here. DeSean Jackson comes to mind, but the Eagles also scored in this matchup last season at Lincoln Financial Field when Najee Goode swooped up a muffed punt. Goode is injured and Jackson is obviously not here, but Sproles is here, and so is special teams ace Chris Maragos. Keeping the streak alive one more week would go a long way toward keeping the Giants out of a first place tie in the division.
There you have it. We got two, 60, 70, six, one, and hopefully a big W to head into the bye week at 5-1.
Take it away, Chip.