By Kevin McGuire
Lincoln Financial Field will be the place to be Sunday afternoon when the Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) play their home opener in Week 3 of the NFL season, and having the New York Giants in town always adds a little spice to the festivities.
The Giants (0-2) will be coming off a short week to prepare for their road trip to Philly after playing host to the Detroit Lions in Monday Night Football in Week 2. Here is a brief look at the Giants in a nutshell.
Did you forget the New York Giants won 11 games a year ago? Unless you are a Giants fan, it may have been easy to forget considering how the season ended with a Wild Card blowout against Green Bay. The Dallas Cowboys were riding high in the division and the conference, which cast a shadow over anything else happening within the NFC East. But it’s true. The Giants went 11-5 last year and went into the offseason looking to retool in a couple of areas. After a 2-2 preseason, the Giants dropped their season opener on the road against Dallas. They followed that up Monday night with a home loss against the Detroit Lions.
The Eagles and Giants split the season series last year, with the home team winning each game, and the Eagles have won five of the last six meetings. Philadelphia has gone 23-13 against the Giants since the 2000 season, including in the postseason. The Giants lead the all-time series, 84-80-2.
Giants on Offense
Simply put, if Odell Beckham Jr. is healthy and Eli Manning is given any time to process the field, the Giants can be dangerous. But OBJ has started the year banged up and Manning is not playing behind a great offensive line.
The Giants managed just three points in their only NFC East test so far, the season opener against the Cowboys. The running game was non-existent as well. These are not the Giants with a solid and reliable running option like they used to have with backs like Tiki Barber (then again, the Eagles’ running game has room to improve as well).
So what exactly is to fear about the Giants offense this year? Honestly, not a whole lot, as the Eagles have shown the ability to play some good defense. On Sunday though, the Eagles gave up some key plays and failed to finish a few pivotal tackles. Mistakes like that can hurt in this game, even against a Giants team not expected to do a whole lot with the ball this season.
Giants on Defense
Though the Giants held the Cowboys to fewer than 19 points in the NFC East matchup two weeks ago, New York’s defense has not really impressed early on. The Cowboys racked up nearly 400 yards of offense on the Giants in Week 1. This is not quite the best recipe to get the Eagles offense on the right track, but it is not the worst option, either. The secondary may be the strength of the Giants, but the focus will be on finding a way to bring pressure up front. Jason Pierre-Paul on one end will always be trouble for the Eagles.
Giants Players to Watch
Brandon Marshall, Wide Receiver – The Giants added Marshall to the offense to pair alongside Odell Beckham Jr., but Marshall had to take on the go-to receiver in his absence early on this season. Marshall may be on the final ride of his career, but he is still capable of making some plays in the Giants offense if the Eagles defense gives him a chance to do something. He had a rough Monday night game with a couple of key drops.
Landon Collins, Safety – In his third season out of Alabama, Collins anchors the defensive secondary, along with Eli Apple. The Eagles receivers should be able to get by Collins at times, but he is hardly a weakness in the secondary.
The Eagles have played well in enough areas to suggest the Eagles should be the favorite this weekend against the Giants, but they must find a way to start running the football. The Giants may not make that easy unless the Eagles offensive line can improve in run blocking. The Eagles have been OK against OBJ in recent meetings, but if he is available he will be a threat for an Eagles secondary, which will be playing without Ronald Darby once again this week. After splitting the two meetings last season with the home team taking each game, look for that trend to continue this weekend.