Week 17 is almost upon us and the NFC East is on the line. The Philadelphia Eagles simply have to take care of business against the New York Giants and with that will come a second divisional title in three years and a spot in the big dance. To get their invite, however, they’ll need big games from several players.
With Zach Ertz likely sidelined due to a rib injury sustained last week, it will be down to second-year TE Dallas Goedert to step up as he did last week. The SDSU product put up one of his best games yet, amassing 91 receiving yards and a touchdown. If he can produce that same kind of effort this week, emerging as a security blanket for Wentz, then the Eagles have a real shot at sustaining their offensive excellence. But…there is a but.
The Giants are only giving up an average of 47.33 yards to opposing tight ends this season, whereas the Cowboys are giving up the third-most in the NFL with 62.4. This shouldn’t act as a knock on last week’s breakout, but we could expect some tougher sledding than we saw in week 16, and without an elite talent to overcome what is bound to be a tighter defensive effort, they may struggle outside of screens and red zone plays.
It’s down to Goedert to really prove just how high his ceiling really is this week, continuing to trend in the right direction and helping spur the offense to an NFC East title.
Ronald Darby is on IR and Jalen Mills is listed on the injury report. Rasul Douglas, for what feels like the 900th time during his short NFL career, has a chance to make a splash and really throw the Cat among the Pigeons on Sunday.
Douglas was feisty against the Cowboys and gave Amari Cooper a lot of grief, but he was also burned without punishment on several occasions. That’s been the summary of Douglas’ 2019 season so far, the only difference is that unlike Ronald Darby, he packs a punch when he tackles.
Darius Slayton is reportedly less than 100% which will give Douglas a lighter challenge, but Golden Tate exists and can move around the line of scrimmage. He caught 11 passes for 96 yards last week and could be problematic.
The Eagles are facing what could easily become a secondary rebuild. It’s down to Douglas to prove that he is going to be involved in its long-term future.
As his bid for ‘offensive rookie of the year’ continues, Sanders has basically been given the green light to continue on as the Eagles lead back despite the return of Jordan Howard. It’s understandable, with the Penn State product ripping through defenses for fun over the last month.
Sanders was excellent against the Giants during the first time of asking, but with Ertz down, the reliance on a passing-game release valve could be higher than ever. The young running back has been about as productive as anyone could ask for in recent weeks, and he has to keep that rolling on Sunday.
Halapoulivaati Vaitai/ Lane Johnson
If Lane Johnson is to miss a third-straight game with an ankle injury, then it will be on Vaitai’s shoulders to go out and ball. This is even more important given that he’s in his contract year and looked on as fellow draft-mate Isaac Seumalo was granted an offseason extension. A good showing against Dexter Lawrence, who has 9 QB hits and 2.5 sacks on the year, could go a long way in deciding his fate.
If Johnson does return, the task remains the same. It would make sense to keep Johnson out of action until absolutely necessary, keeping him fresh for the playoffs, but this is a must-win and a franchise right tackle can make all the difference.
There is a chance that the Giants will be in a right tackle crisis on Sunday. Starting RT Mike Remmers is in concussion protocol and former UDFA Nick Gates, who is the backup RG/RT, is listed as questionable. Gates has had some impressive games this season, but an angry Brandon Graham is never a favorable matchup to line up against.
BG hasn’t had a sack since week 12 but has been one of the team’s most consistent pass-rushers this season. With Daniel Jones back in the pocket, it’s down to Graham to come exploding off the edge and make life highly uncomfortable for the rookie.
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