I think we can start talking playoffs, folks. Maybe it’s just a Wildcard berth but, at 5-6, I think we can collectively agree this season’s not over. Over their final six games, the combined record of remaining Eagles opponents is 16-24, and you can blame most of those wins on the Dallas Cowboys. So this should be easy, right?
Well, it all starts with a trip to Metlife against the New York Giants as they look to retire Michael Strahan’s number at halftime. Let’s see if the Eagles can ruin their party.
Three Things to Watch Against the New York Giants
Can Jalen Hurts break 1,000 yards rushing and set a new record?
Even against the NFL’s best rushing defense, Philadelphia bullied the New Orleans Saints on the ground, and things should be even easier against the 22nd ranked Giants.
Over the last five weeks, the Eagles offense has rushed for over 1,000 yards, and a big part of that has been the emergence of Jalen Hurts.
Hurts has averaged 56.2 rushing yards per game in 2021. He’s tenth in the NFL in total rushing yards. $%#* tenth!
If he can maintain at least 55 rushing YPG for Philadelphia’s final six, he’ll break Randall Cunningham’s 1990 franchise record (942). If he somehow gets any better (64 rushing YPG, to be exact), we can start talking 1,000.
That’s not entirely out of the question. Here’s why.
Over the next six games, Philadelphia will take on the Jets’ 28th ranked rushing defense and the Giants’ unit twice. Things get a bit tougher with Washington and Dallas, who both rank in the league’s top ten, but we all saw what happened last week. Hurts finds a way to make these yards happen, and I don’t think that stops Sunday.
ICYMI the Eagles linebackers cannot cover
Bottomline – the Eagles linebackers are getting crushed in passed coverage, and Alex Singleton is your headline.
Singleton has allowed more yards after the catch (278) than any player on this Eagles’ defense, and it could be a big problem against the tight-ends of the Giants.
The ‘Evan Engram-Kyle Rudolph’ combination has put together 383 yards, three touchdowns, and about 20% of Daniel Jones‘ completions this season.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia has allowed the most yards (811) and touchdowns (9) against opposing tight ends in the NFL. Giants 9th least.
The key to this defense on Sunday will be shutting down the tight-ends, but that doesn’t get easier with the loss of Davion Taylor. It could be a long day.
On the other hand, Philadephia’s been pleasantly surprising against opposing wideouts. The Eagles rank fourth-best against total yards allowed to wide receivers, at just 1,381 total yards.
John Ross, Sterling Shepard, and Kadrius Toney are all dealing with quad injuries, potentially leaving the Giants with a group featuring Kenny Golladay, Darius Slayton, and Collin Johnson.
If Philadelphia can limit the output from the group of tight-ends, they’re left dealing with a mixed bag of wideouts that’s been severely limited by injury. Watch the tight-ends, especially Engram since Rudolph is listed as doubtful.
Don’t need it but its there if you want it
Over their last three games, the Giants have allowed the 2nd-most passing yards per game, behind only the New York Jets. That’s an opportunity. However, with the failure of this receiving group to develop, Devonta Smith withstanding, the Eagles will need to get more creative.
This is all to say; the Birds cannot count on Jalen Reagor, who has produced a total offensive output of just 18 yards over four weeks. Nor can they rely on someone like J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, who recorded his first reception and target of 2021 with a 23-yard reception against the Saints.
There’s no consistency. Therefore, let us accept that the limited Philadelphia passing attack will run through Smith and Dallas Goedert.
That said, there are ways to exploit the Giants’ porous secondary.
If the Eagles are looking for an air assault, the Giants allow 8.3 yards per reception to opponents’ running backs. With Jordan Howard sidelined, this could be the week that Kenny Gainwell, who’s averaging 8.7 YPC, emerges from the doghouse.
A little Gainwell goes a long way.
Hurts plays another intelligent, turnover free game pairing nicely with Miles Sanders and Smith through the air. Engram torches Philadelphia’s defense in place of the Giants’ banged-up receiving corps, but it’s not enough.
Giants keep it close in an emotional game, but the Eagles get to enjoy their week in Manhattan as they wait for their date with the Jets.
Eagles – 24 Giants – 21
Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire