By Kevin McGuire
The Philadelphia Eagles host the NFC East rival New York Giants on Sunday night at Lincoln Financial Field. With a win, the Eagles would head into the bye week with a confident 5-1 record.
The Giants have won three consecutive games, all by double figures. After starting the season with a record of 0-2, the Giants have won games against the Houston Texans, Washington Redskins and Atlanta Falcons.
The Eagles and Giants have a storied history, with New York owning an all-time edge in the rivalry with a record of 83-75-2. The two franchises have split the last six meetings, with the road team winning two games in the other’s home stadium. The Giants recorded a 15-7 win in Lincoln Financial Field last October 27.
Giants on Offense
The Giants continue to run that familiar west coast style of play on offense, with franchise quarterback Eli Manning continuing to run the operation. Eli has been sharp during the three-game winning streak as well, throwing for eight touchdowns and just one interception after starting the year off with three touchdowns to four interceptions the first two weeks.
Manning cannot do it alone, of course. Victor Cruz has been a steady target but he has just one touchdown reception this season. Tight end Larry Donnell has emerged this season, although he and Cruz are both coming off a rough performance against Atlanta. The Giants also have some young players with potential to be the foundation of the offense for years to come with running back Andre Williams and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. both showing some promise.
Giants on Defense
The Giants looked rough on defense at the start of the season, but things seem to have turned around in a hurry. New York has held its opponents to 20 points or fewer in each of the last three games played. After two weeks without forcing a turnover, the Giants have forced 10 turnovers in the last three games, including six against Washington.
The Giants will bring pressure from the outside of the line with Mathias Kiwanuka on one side and Jason Pierre-Paul on the other. Given the concerns at offensive line this season for the Eagles, the Giants should be expected to take advantage of that. Fortunately, the Eagles offensive line looked better with the return of Lane Johnson this week. The Giants have allowed fewer than 100 rushing yards in each of the past two games.
Giants Players to Watch
Wide receiver Victor Cruz: The Eagles managed to keep Cruz contained in two games last season, but Cruz has five touchdowns in six career games against the Eagles. He also has three games with over 100 receiving yards, and given the way the Eagles corners have played this season, the Giants should be able to get Cruz in the game early and often.
Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.: Just as the Giants should expect to get the veteran Cruz involved, they should also look to get the football to the first-round rookie wide receiver out of LSU. Odell Beckham Jr. gives the Giants a deep ball threat and he showed some very encouraging signs of promise after making his debut Sunday following a hamstring injury.
The Eagles have been shaky the past few weeks and will not likely to be able to get away with it this week. Not the way the Giants have played the last three weeks. The Giants come to Philadelphia having won three games by an average of 18.0 points. The key for Philadelphia to enter the bye week with a 5-1 record will be to start and finish strong, which has been an issue in each game of the season. With a quarterback like Eli Manning and the weapons he has to work with, the Eagles must find a way to keep the foot on the gas pedal on offense.
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Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.