Years since a Phillies catcher batted leadoff before Andrew Knapp did so Sunday

Eagles-Giants preview: Pressure is on!

Posted by Eric Fisher On September 21

The Eagles (1-1) have an opportunity to bury a division opponent. An Eagles victory this Sunday (1 p.m) at Lincoln Financial Field would drop the Giants to 0-3. With two of their next three games at Tampa Bay and Denver, a loss would put the Giants in a precarious position, even though it’s early in the season.

Even without the look toward the near-future, an Eagles win would improve their divisional record to 2-0 while dropping the Giants to 0-2.

As always, a key to beating the Giants is to put pressure on quarterback Eli Manning. Under pressure, Eli seems to fall to the ground rather than take a big hit to make a play, and he often throws the ball early to avoid hits, resulting in interceptions. If Manning receives time to throw, he could have a field day attacking the Eagles’ depleted secondary.

After only calling 13 running plays during the 27-20 loss to the Chiefs, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson will have media and fans keeping a running tally of his run:pass ratio. He needs to call more running plays, if only to reduce the risk of quarterback Carson Wentz suffering an injury.

Here are 10 questions to consider prior to and during Sunday’s game.

1. Is Eli Manning really that bad?

First, we should ask if Manning is so bad. He has completed the same number of passes (51) as Carson Wentz this season while throwing 15 fewer passes. Manning’s completion percentage is 72.9 percent, but his completions have only added up to 459 yards and one touchdown, while Wentz has passed for 640 yards and four touchdowns. Of course, the problem might not be Manning. His offensive line isn’t giving him much time to find receivers downfield and the Giants’ running game is non-existent.

2. Will injuries make the Eagles’ secondary vulnerable?

The Eagles’ secondary performed admirably against the Chiefs, even with cornerback Ronald Darby sidelined by a dislocated ankle and with safety Rodney McLeod and safety/cornerback Jaylen Watkins leaving the game in the first half with hamstring injuries. With safety Corey Graham joining McLeod and Watkins on the sidelines during practice on Wednesday and Thursday with a hamstring injury, Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Maragos and Trae Elston, who was signed on Wednesday, are the only healthy safeties. Remember, the safeties are the strength of the secondary, which currently has Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson and Rasul Douglas as its top three cornerbacks.

3. Do the Giants have any dangerous receivers?

If Odell Beckham Jr. is healthy, the Eagles don’t have a cornerback capable of handling him one-on-one. Tight end Evan Ingram (8 receptions, 93 yards, TD) and running back Shane Vereen (12 receptions, 78 yards) could give the Eagles’ linebackers fits.

4. Why have the Giants only scored 13 points this season?

The easy answer is the offensive line. Considering that the Eagles’ best unit has been the defensive line, the battle with the Giants’ offensive line appears to be a mismatch. If the Eagles’ defensive line can pressure Eli Manning, it would make the secondary’s job considerably easier.

5. Will the Eagles run the ball more often?

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson received a lot of heat this week for only calling 13 running plays during the loss to the Chiefs. Pederson said he wasn’t happy with the running game, but it averaged a respectable 4 yards per carry. The Giants have a solid defense. Let’s hope that an early lack of success doesn’t cause Pederson to abandon the running game once again. If the Eagles can’t run the ball – or won’t run the ball – it exposes Carson Wentz to more potential hits.

6. Will the apparent change at left guard affect the running game?

Chance Warmack built his reputation as a “road grader.” If he starts instead of Isaac Seumalo, as seems to be the case after he worked with the first team this week, it only makes sense to run the ball behind left tackle Jason Peters and Warmack. If the Eagles can’t run behind Peters and Warmack, they have serious issues in the running game.

7. How good is the Giants defense?

Despite the ineptness of the offense, the Giants have only allowed 43 points this season, and the Lions’ last touchdown during their 24-10 victory Monday came on a punt return. Considering the opposition’s edge in time of possession and yardage, the Giants defense has been fairly stingy.

8. Will Carson Wentz be more careful with the football?

Wentz has thrown two crucial interceptions and displayed a tendency to fumble while under pressure in the pocket. He needs to take better care of the football.

9. How will Jake Elliott fare in his second game?

In his first game since replacing the injured Caleb Sturgis, Elliott, a fifth-round pick of the Bengals, made two field goals, but missed a 30-yard attempt just before halftime. A short miss against the Giants will likely cause another round of tryouts for kickers before the Chargers game.

10. Will LeGarrette Blount get more carries than he did against the Chiefs?

This is a safe bet. Blount didn’t have any official carries against the Chiefs (his only run was negated by a penalty). A second straight game without a carry might cause Blount to be less diplomatic during postgame interviews than he was after the Chiefs game.

Prediction: The Eagles appear to have a huge advantage in the matchup between their defensive line and the Giants’ offensive line. If the Eagles can get a first-half lead, they can ignore the Giants’ running game and bring substantial pressure on Eli Manning, protecting their depleted secondary and forcing Manning into mistakes. The Giants need to keep the game close and low-scoring in order to have a legitimate chance at victory. Prediction: Eagles 30, Giants 13


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