Offensive Line Needs to Step Up:
There was much speculation on what kind of roster moves the Giants would make during their bye week and whether they could solidify their offensive line. To the dismay of many Giants fans, Jerry Reese and company made no such moves. They had the opportunity to trade for Browns’ offensive tackle Joe Thomas, but were not willing to part ways with a second round pick in order to acquire the veteran pro bowler. The Eagles’ defense has been spectacular this season and their pass rush has been key to their recent progress. Even against a stout Cowboys O-line, the Eagles pass rush was able to trouble Cowboys QB Dak Prescott and pressure him into making mistakes. This week, the Giants’ O-line needs to step up and give Manning time to get the ball to his lethal trio of receivers in order to have any offensive success. The Giants can’t rely on their running game with a meek 3.3 yards per carry. Look for rookie Paul Perkins to take on an expanded role in this week’s matchup as the Giants seek a spark in their running game. Both the success of the Giants’ running and passing game will rely on the offensive line’s ability to do their job upfront and combat the high flying Eagles defense.
Giants Receivers Must Win their Matchups: Coming into the season, many argued that the Giants’ receiving trio of Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz and rookie Sterling Shepard would be the most dynamic receiving core in the league. Unfortunately, the Giants’ passing game has not taken off as expected coming into the season. Besides the breakout performance from OBJ against the Ravens, all of the Giants receivers have been kept in check with average production. The Giants receivers must win their respective matchups and help out quarterback Eli Manning, who will face pressure from the stout Eagles defense. In particular, the Eagles starting slot corner Nolan Carroll will be out with a hamstring injury so the Giants must exploit this hole in the Eagles defense. This provides ample opportunity for Sterling Shepard to have a breakout performance in a playoff impacting division game. Given that Eli Manning has time to throw, the Giants receivers can make an immense impact with exploded stats as long as they win their matchups.
Fourth Quarter Motivation: The Giants are 4-2 in games that came down to a touchdown or less, while the Eagles are 0-3. The division rivals have a lot at stake in their effort to clinch a top two spot in the NFC East. At this point, it will wind down to who is more fired up in the final minutes of the game. The Giants have to brush up on the little things like minimizing penalties and limiting turnovers. They have to make plays and put the pressure on QB Carson Wentz. The Giants should dominate with Manning, who has run the Giants offense for the past 13 years, while Wentz is starting as a rookie. The Giants are led by a number of vets who are no stranger to division rivalries. Sitting at 4-3, they both have the power to win on Sunday, but the willingness to fight for it is what will be a defining factor in the game.