Thursday Night Football Preview: Giants at Eagles
- Venue: Lincoln Financial Field
- Spread: Giants -2.5
- Over/Under: 41
Happy Holidays Folks! Christmas is near so everyone is spreading that holiday cheer, right? Well, maybe not in Philadelphia. Eagle fans, after all, are the people responsible for pelting Santa with snowballs. In between the sidelines, this Thursday night may not be the best example of holiday cheer either when the Giants head into the city of brotherly love to take on the Eagles. For the Giants, it will be trying to stay in the playoff picture while the Eagles will be looking to put a dent in their rival’s playoff aspirations. The Giants have a record of 85-80-2 all-time against the Eagles and will also be favored in this matchup by 2.5 points with an over under of 41.5.[the_ad id=”66786″]The 2016 Giants might be one of the least talked about 10-4 teams that we’ve ever seen. The highlights of their quiet season would have to be handing the Dallas Cowboys their only two losses of the season. In the off-season, it was expected that the Giants would have a dynamic passing attack. That hasn’t entirely come to fruition as the team ranks 17th in the league in passing. Their quarterback Eli Manning has now had eight straight games without a 300-yard passing performance. The last time he had a stretch this long was when he went on an eleven game stretch in 2013. The Giants last game against the Eagles saw Eli Manning throw for four touchdowns which is his highest output of the 2016 season. He will be accompanied by his top four targeted pass catchers who are fully healthy and ready to go. Leading those pass catchers will be Odell Beckham Jr. whom currently sits in third among the most targeted wide receivers in the NFL with 142. Beckham’s previous game against the Eagles was strange in the sense that he scored two touchdowns but managed to do it while hauling in just four of his ten targets. In his previous five games against the Eagles, Beckham is averaging 12.4 yards per receptions with four touchdowns.
Fellow wide receivers Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz shouldn’t be complete afterthoughts in this one either. Shepard’s previous game against the Eagles ended up being his largest yards per catch output (16.6) than any other game in his rookie campaign. For the veteran Victor Cruz, it will be coming back to the scene of the crime. It was in Philadelphia back on October 12, 2014, when Cruz suffered a torn patellar tendon that cost him the rest of that season and all of 2015. The salsa-dancing Cruz has had just one touchdown all season but don’t be surprised to see Eli look his way in this one as it could have sentimental value for number eighty. The last of the Giants pass catchers with fifty or more targets is tight end Will Tye. The former Stony Brook Seawolf could have his hands full this Thursday as the Eagles are allowing an average of 26 yards per game to the position. Over the last two weeks, it has been a little of a split in work for the Giants backfield. Rashad Jennings has had 33 carries for 83 yards while rookie Paul Perkins has had 26 carries for 101 yards. Neither player has rushed for a scored as of late as the Giants haven’t had a rushing scoring since week 11 against the Bears. Something will have to give though as the last time the Eagles didn’t allow a rushing score was in week ten against the Falcons.
The Eagles were the talk of the town in the early part of this season as they kicked things off by winning their first three games while scoring more than twenty-five points in each of them. The bye week came and went and so did the good vibes in Philadelphia as the Eagles have gone 2-9 since. This downward trend is do in part to questionable play calling by head coach Doug Pederson as well as poor play by the rookie quarterback, Carson Wentz. The rookie QB has thrown 13 interceptions since the bye week including 5 in his last three games. Things won’t get much easier for Wentz as he goes up against a Giants defense that is one of just two teams left in the league to have intercepted the ball more than they have allowed passing scores. Their leading pass catcher Jordan Matthews is dealing with an ankle injury but is expected to suit up this Thursday night. The Eagles pass catcher has had ten or more targets in 6 out of his last seven games. Surprisingly enough, though, he hasn’t had a hundred performance since week 1 and also hasn’t had a touchdown since week 9. Behind Matthews in handling the ball through the air is tight end Zach Ertz who has averaged 12 yards per receptions over the last two weeks. In Ertz’s last meeting with the Giants, he was able to catch all eight of his targets for 97 yards. It can only help that Darren Sproles is returning from concussion protocol as he sits as the team’s third-leading receiver. Despite not allowing a receiving touchdown to running backs all season, the Giants will need to respect Sproles as they have allowed 503 yards receiving to the position.[the_ad id=”63633″]
Beyond pass catching, the Eagles backfield has been a bit topsy-turvy this year. We’ve seen Mathews, Smallwood, Sproles, and Barner all contribute at some point. The flavor of the week last week was Ryan Mathews who put up 128 yards and a touchdown against a well rounded Ravens defense. Mathews will now face a Giants defense that has allowed 100-yard rushing performances to running backs twice all season long. Mathews shouldn’t have to go it alone this week as Darren Sproles has cleared concussion protocol and is expected to be ready to go this week. The Giants are a well-rounded football team, and as previously mentioned, one of the least talked about 10-4 teams in quite some time. The Eagles would have to completely shut down the passing game in this one to have a puncher’s chance and I haven’t seen a reason to think they can. It will be a hard-fought NFC East battle that fans have come to know and love but I think the Giants will hit the spread while the final score will (as usual) teeter on the over/under mark.
My Prediction: Giants 24 Eagles 17
Fantasy Thought and Tips:
This game thankfully packs a little bit more of a fantasy punch than last Thursday’s game. If you’ve gotten this far in fantasy, then you’re down to the nitty gritty, so it’s pertinent to avoid mistakes at all cost. I think the Eagles hang in there this game, but I don’t think that will translate to fantasy production for Wentz. If you’re in a PPR format, then I would give Jordan Matthews a look. His targets over the past seven weeks are hard to ignore. If you’re not in a PPR format, then I may stay away from Matthews as his lack of touchdown production is also hard to ignore. The Giants are allowing the 5th most receiving yards to tight ends and the 3rd fewest touchdowns to wide receivers, so I like Zach Ertz to get involved in this one. Sproles now being involved in the game plan makes things a bit tricky from a fantasy perspective, but I still like Mathews more than I do Sproles. I mentioned earlier that the Giants have only allowed two 100 yard rushing performances this season, but it’s important to note that those two performances came in weeks 13 and 14. This could be the beginning of a trend that favors Mathews. In regards to the Giants, I think you’re starting your main guys.[the_ad id=”63198″]Those main guys being ODB and Eli Manning of course. In standard formats, the Eagles are allowing the fourth most points to wide receivers so that should have Beckham owners foaming at the mouth. Eli hasn’t had a 300-yard passing performance in quite some but I think he’ll get pretty close this Thursday as the Eagles are allowing an average of 251.2 passing yards per game. I don’t recommend starting any other wide receivers on the Giants as they aren’t all that reliable. I will say to keep an eye on Victor Cruz as I have a hunch that he’ll score this week. The Eagles are way too tough against the tight end and Will Tye is not matchup proof. Let’s not forget this is your championship! I think in regards to defenses I like the Giants in this one as I feel they’ll have the potential to take away the ball from Wentz. Keep that in the back of your mind though as other defenses should perform better this weekend, like the Chargers for example. That is it for this week folks so I would like to close this by saying Happy Holidays to all of you and be safe out there. Cheers.