The NFC East has traditionally been one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL. That isn’t the case this season where it doesn’t seem like anyone wants to win the divisional title. The Philadelphia Eagles are currently in first place though with a very mediocre 8-7 record. For now, they’re a game up on Dallas and the divisional title will come down to this game and the Cowboys’ home game against the Washington Redskins. If the Eagles win, they’re in and the Cowboys go home. If the Eagles lose and the Cowboys lose, Philly still gets in. The Cowboys need to beat the Redskins *and* for the Giants to beat the Eagles.
New York isn’t going anywhere even if they win this game and finish 5-11. That outcome isn’t as outlandish as it might first appear. The Giants enter this matchup on a two game SU winning streak and having covered four of their last five games. It’s easy to dismiss the Giants recent victories as a function of bad competition which is true to some extent but New York still has to execute and they did a fine job both at home over Miami and at Washington. One huge difference is a healthy Saquan Barkley who is now 100% recovered from a high ankle sprain. Barkley might not get the ‘run’ he deserves playing with the Giants but he’s among the best all around backs in football. He came into last week’s game against the Redskins averaging 136 yards from scrimmage in his last nine NFC East tilts. All he did against Washington was pick up 189 yards on the ground and 90 more yards receiving. The 279 yards from scrimmage is a Giants’ franchise record and earned Barkley NFC Offensive Player of the Week honorifics.
It wasn’t just Barkley as rookie quarterback Daniel Jones turned in the best performance of his brief NFL career. Jones was 28 for 42 for 352 yards with 5 TD passes and no interceptions. So he made it look easy against the Redskins but can he do the same against the Eagles? Don’t be surprised if he does. At best, the Eagles have a very mediocre secondary and injuries could make it even worse. Cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills both left Philly’s game against Dallas last Sunday. Darby was placed on the IR list and is definitely out and Mills is listed as ‘questionable’.
Philadelphia has some injury issues on offense as well and particularly at the wide receiver position. Nelson Agholor has been ruled out for this game and Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson were already on the IR list. Carson Wentz has made his tight ends the primary focus of the Eagles’ air attack but he’s down a man at that position as well with Zach Ertz ruled out. They did get one bit of good injury news this week and will likely see running back Jordan Howard return to the lineup as he’s listed as ‘probable’ for the game.
The Eagles’ ‘must win’ situation gives us an inflated price to play against. The Giants were extremely competitive with the Eagles when the two teams met on December 9. Philadelphia eventually won 21-17 but the Giants covered as a +9 underdog with Eli Manning under center. New York has covered 4 of the last 5 head to head against Philadelphia. With Saquan Barkley the best player on the field for either team and Daniel Jones starting to show NFL level poise we’ll gladly take the Giants plus the points.