The Giants accomplished all 5 keys to victory last week against the Atlanta Falcons, although it took them the entire game to do so. When the final gun sounded, a 20-10 deficit was turned into a 30-20 victory with the Giants surging behind a power running game, an energized passing offense, and a tough, resilient defense. They ran the ball well despite losing Rashad Jennings to a strained MCL, threw the ball to Odell Beckham and it indeed opened up the offense, and continued to bring pressure on defense until Atlanta succumbed. It appeared that the Giants had overlooked the Falcons until their late game heroics showed the team’s character, something that can’t be taught.
The biggest worry and potential undoing for an improving team are the special teams. Steve Weatherford’s first punt went right to Devin Hester, and he nearly broke it, but the Giants adjusted and Hester was a non-factor for the remainder of the game. The Eagles have used special teams to win games, and while the Giants aren’t expected to do that, they can’t afford the turnovers and penalties that have plagued these units through the first five weeks of the season. If special teams are just average, they will win this game, any errors, especially in punt protection or coverage, and it’s a loss.
Against the Eagles, the Giants will win the game if they accomplish the following:
Run the Ball. Philadelphia surrenders 132 yards per game on the ground, 24th in the NFL and 4.23 yards per carry, 16th in the league. With bruiser Andre Williams starting in place of the Jennings, the Giants will be able to control the ball and the clock against a shaky Eagles run defense. Tom Coughlin has said all the right things about the Eagles defense improving, but he knows well as Giants360 that they have given up over 5 yards per carry in each of their past two games. A bonus to this strategy, the Philadelphia offense gets to cool their jets on the bench.
- Play Smart on Special Teams. The Eagles are third in the NFL in both kickoff and punt returns and while the Giants coverage teams have improved, they are still shaky. Philadelphia has blocked punts for touchdown in back to back games and the Giants have had a punt blocked and several near misses this season. The Giants return game had been plagued by penalties and bad decisions on bringing kickoffs out of the end zone. This statement bears repeating – the Giants cannot afford turnover or penalties on special teams in this game.
- Use Play Action. The Eagles have surely studied the game tape of Falcons at Giants closely and seen Odell Beckham running three steps behind every Falcon on the field. They also saw Williams running over them in the second half. Once the Giants establish their ground game, play action passes will free up Victor Cruz and Beckham for big plays against a secondary that ranks 28th in the league with 406.20 yards given up per game.
- Protect the Football. Philadelphia has made a living capitalizing on opponents errors, while the Giants have played better in their three victories, posting a +6 turnover margin. They own the match-ups in the game, provided they don’t give the Eagles a short field.
- Generate Turnovers. The Eagles are -4 in turnover margin on the season and have turned the ball over three times or more in three of their five games. If the Giants are able to produce three turnovers, they should be able to win by a substantial margin.
The most important of the five keys to victory is the second – special teams, and this is biggest test for these units so far this season. The Eagles are not a very good football team, with their five opponents combining for a winning percentage of 29.17%. The four teams they have beaten, by a combined 29 points, with 17 of that margin coming opening day against the 0-5 Jaguars, have a combined 4-15 record, a 21.05 winning percentage. Philadelphia is winning games with smoke and mirrors and should prove inferior to a Giants team who’s opponents have a combined record of 12-12.
Superfan Corner: Today’s superfan corner is a family photo done right from superfan @yeamikepetti, who submitted this image of his entire family decked out in their Giants jerseys. Let’s hope they bring Big Blue some luck tonight in Philadelphia