Eagles vs. Giants: Five matchups to watch

The Philadelphia Eagles have owned the New York Giants in recent years, as they have seven straight wins over their division rivals. They have also taken 11 of the last 12 matchups, and 20 of the last 24.

The Eagles’ ownership of the Giants is in jeopardy this week, as the Giants are coming into Philly perhaps with some confidence after picking up their first win of the season (albeit against the equally bad Football Team). The Eagles are current betting favorites, at -4.5, according to TheLines.com’s consensus odds. Here are our five matchups to watch.

1) Daniel Jones vs. Carson Wentz, on the turnover front

Did you know that there is a strong correlation between winning the turnover battle, and winning games in the NFL? Well, I did the research, and it’s true!

On the season, Carson Wentz has turned the ball over 11 times (9 INTs, 2 fumbles lost), while Daniel Jones has turned it over 9 times (6 INTs, 3 fumbles lost).

In the past, Wentz has always struggled with fumbles, but he had done a nice job of keeping his INT count down until this season. Jones, on the other hand, has been a turnover machine from Day 1.

Despite only becoming the starter Week 3 and missing two games late in the season as a rookie, Jones tied for second in the NFL with 23 total turnovers (12 INTs, 11 fumbles lost on 18 total fumbles), behind only Jameis Winston. A look at his turnovers, game-by-game, since he entered the league: 

 Daniel Jones INTs  Fumbles lost  Total turnovers 
 Week 1, 2019 – Cowboys
 Week 3, 2019 – Bucs
 Week 4, 2019 – WFT
 Week 5, 2019 – Vikings
 Week 6, 2019 – Patriots
 Week 7, 2019 – Cardinals
 Week 8, 2019 – Lions
 Week 9, 2019 – Cowboys
 Week 10, 2019 – Jets
 Week 12, 2019 – Bears
 Week 13, 2019 – Packers
 Week 16, 2019 – WFT
 Week 17, 2019 – Eagles
 Week 1, 2020 – Steelers
 Week 2, 2020 – Bears
 Week 3, 2020 – 49ers
 Week 4, 2020 – Rams
 Week 5, 2020 – Cowboys
 Week 6, 2020 – WFT
 TOTAL 18  14  32 

As you can see, Jones has had at least one turnover in every game he has played, with the lone exception being a Week 16 game against the Football Team.

The Eagles have the second-worst turnover differential in the NFL, at -7, and only five teams in the NFL have fewer takeaways. They must find a way to take the ball away from an offense that is extremely prone to coughing it up.

2) Eagles WR Travis Fulgham vs. Giants CB James Bradberry

The Giants’ cornerback position was a mess entering the season, after they released DeAndre Baker in the wake of his offseason arrest, and lost Sam Beal to a COVID opt out. The exception has been James Bradberry, who has been a rare free agency hit by Dave Gettleman.

On the season, Bradberry has a pair of INTs, and he is tied for the NFL lead with 10 pass breakups, while mostly trailing the opposing offense’s best receiver.

The Eagles’ best receiver so far this season has been Travis Fulgham, of course. Even if DeSean Jackson and/or Alshon Jeffery return to action this week, the Eagles’ best receiver is still probably Fulgham, who has shown more in three games (18 receptions for 284 yards and 3 TDs) than Jackson or Jeffery have shown since the start of the 2019 season. 

Fulgham (6’2, 215) is also just a logical matchup choice for a bigger corner like Bradberry, who goes 6’1, 212. In fact, Fulgham’s and Bradberry’s measurables from their respective NFL Combine performances are quite similar:

 Measurable Travis Fulgham  James Bradberry 
 Height 6’2  6’1 
 Weight 215  212 
 Arm length 33 3/4″  33 3/8″ 
 40 yard dash 4.58  4.50 
 Vertical jump 36 1/2″  36″ 
 Broad jump 126″  124″ 
 Bench press 15 reps  16 reps 

It will be interesting to see how Fulgham responds to the added attention he is no doubt going to garner the rest of the season by opposing defenses.

3) Giants WR Darius Slayton vs. Eagles CB Darius Slay

The other WR vs. CB matchup to watch in this game is Darius Slay vs. Darius Slayton. HEY their names are similar!

Like Bradberry above, Slay has been a quality offseason acquisition for the Eagles, who has also trailed the opposing team’s best receiver when it has made sense.

In this matchup, it makes sense for him to trail Slayton, who is clearly the Giants’ best receiver. Slayton leads the Giants by a wide margin in every statistical receiving category, and he has all three of the team’s receiving touchdowns.

 Player Rec  Yards  YPC  TD 
 WR Darius Slayton 25  406   16.2
 TE Evan Engram 20  177   8.9
 WR Golden Tate 19  156   8.2
 WR Sterling Shepard 76   9.5
WR C.J. Board 66   9.4
 RB Dion Lewis 10  65   6.5
 WR Damion Ratley 63   15.8
 TE Kaden Smith 10  61   6.1
 RB Saquon Barkley 60   10.0
 RB Devonta Freeman 53   8.3
 RB Wayne Gallman 21   4.2
 TE Levine Toilolo 13   13.0
 WR Austin Mack  1.0

Yes, the Giants only have three passing touchdowns this season, and holy crap those yards per reception numbers, Slayton aside, are brutal.

Anyway, Slayton has also torched the Eagles in his young NFL career so far. In two games vs. the Eagles, Slayton has 9 receptions for 204 yards and 2 TDs. A look at what he did to the Eagles in Week 14 last year:

Two notes on the above video:

  1. Slay is better than Ronald Darby.
  2. I’m glad Joe Tessitore is no longer working NFL games.

4) The Eagles’ pass rush vs. the Giants’ offensive line

After two dominant performances against the Bengals and 49ers, the Eagles’ pass rush was quieter against the Steelers (who made it a priority to get the ball out quickly), and the Ravens (who employ Lamar Jackson and run the ball a lot). 

They must get back to being dominant against a Giants offensive line that just isn’t good. A quick look:

LT Andrew Thomas: Actually, Thomas was benched briefly last Sunday after missing a team meeting on Saturday, and another rookie, Matt Peart, filled in. To be determined if Thomas or Peart will start on Sunday.

• LG Will Hernandez: Hernandez was a high second-round pick of the team in 2018, and after a decent rookie year, he looked like he could potentially be a long-term quality starter. He has not been that since.

C Nick Gates: Replacement-level center, at best.

RG Kevin Zeitler: Long-time quality guard in his ninth season at the age of 30.

RT Cameron Fleming: Really more of a depth guy who the Giants are forced to start because they don’t have anyone better.

The strength of the Eagles’ team is their defensive line. This is game in which they have to earn their lofty contracts.

5) The Eagles’ linebackers vs. a team not super well-equipped to exploit them

While the Eagles’ biggest strength is their defensive line, their roster’s biggest weakness, as we’ve all seen, is their linebackers. Fortunately for them this week, unlike against the Steelers and Ravens, the Giants aren’t well-equipped to exploit them. 

Against the Ravens, Jalen Mills mostly covered Mark Andrews, the Ravens’ tight end who plays more like a wide receiver. Against the Giants, it feels likely that Mills will once again draw a similar responsibility against “kind of a tight end but not really” Evan Engram. 

As for the Giants’ run game, with Saquon Barkley out, Devonta Freeman is their new starting running back. He is averaging 3.2 yards per carry, and Daniel Jones is the team’s leading rusher.

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