Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Can Manning Dash Eagles Playoff Hopes In Return?

With Daniel Jones out (high ankle sprain) will Eli Manning play spoiler during Monday Night Football in a division no-one seems to want win?

Eli Manning returns under centre for the New York Giants (2-10) for the first time since a week three benching to face-off against an old foe in the form of the Philadelphia Eagles (5-7) at Lincoln Financial Field on Monday night. The Eagles have dominated proceedings between the two in recent years winning nine of the last ten.

Locked at 116 regular season victories and defeats the outcome of what’s potentially Eli Manning’s last game as a Giant will undoubtedly fuel the keyboard warriors unwarranted back-and-forth for years to come when discussing his Hall Of Fame credentials upon retirement.

Eli Manning

Over a 16-year career that includes two Super Bowls triumphs Manning has been somewhat unenterprising against the Eagles. Having lost 20-of-30 regular season games, during which the 38-year-old completed 59.60% of his attempted passes, threw 54 touchdowns, 34 interceptions and was sacked 60 times. A factor that will remain a concern for the veteran as the Eagles defense has produced eight sacks and 22 quarterback hits in its last two games.

Saquon Barkley’s sophomore year has been somewhat derailed by a high ankle sprain sustained against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week three, leaving the running back absent for the Giants next three games. Upon returning to lineup the 2018 offensive rookie of the year looked a shadow of himself leaving many questioning wether or not the decision to return so soon was actually detrimental to the healing process and the teams fortunes on the field.

In two previous meetings Barkley has flourished against the Eagles with a total of 231 yards rushing (130 & 101), 140 yards receiving (99 & 41) and three touchdowns. Regardless of the indifferent form the matchup against a stout Eagles run defense thats allowing an average of 91 yards per game (4th fewest) remains a mouthwatering prospect.

Two time Super Bowl MVP Manning

Outside of the 23rd overall rushing attack lies an injury ravaged passing attack that’s averaged 221 yards per game (20th overall). Golden Tate made it through a full practice on Friday and is expected to return following a concussion. Tight end Evan Ingram has been ruled out once again with a foot injury that stems back to week nine.

There is some good news as Sterling Shephard’s recovery from a concussion continues as the 5ft 10″ 201lb wideout has been targeted 15 times in two games. Another in the midst of the action is rookie Darius Slayton, with seven or more targets during his last three games. Both will have ample opportunity against an Eagles pass defense that’s giving up an average of 241 yards per game.

Drops, injuries, and inconsistency have been among a few key contributing factors to the Eagles losing record at this juncture. With the Cowboys unable to get out of their own way the Eagles need to snap a three-game losing streak to put catapult themselves back into contention for a playoff spot ahead of a potentially crucial week 16 encounter against the Cowboys.

Carson Wentz’s play has fluctuated throughout the season as the 27-year-old signal caller has failed to complete at least 60% of his passes on five separate occasions. Another concerning issue is the five turnovers in the last two games (3 interceptions, 2 lost fumbles). That aside Wentz was 28-of-46 for 310 yards and three touchdowns during last Sunday’s 37-31 defeat to the Miami Dolphins.

Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz (11) and Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson confer during the New York Giants versus the Philadelphia Eagles game on November 25, 2018, at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The tight end duo of Zack Ertz (736 yards, 3 touchdowns) and Dallas Goedert (355 yards, 4 touchdowns) have seen an average of 16.5 targets over the last four games and will look to expose a pass defense that’s ranked 28th overall. Interestingly the Giants defense have allowed the third fewest yards (414) by tight ends in 2019.

Running back Jordan Howard is expected to return after being sidelined for the past three weeks with a stinger. Miles Sanders filled the void with his best game of 2019 last week, rushing for 83 yards off 17 carries. Sanders has been a real threat through the air averaging 11.2 yards per reception and has 879 yards from scrimmage.

Nelson Agholor (questionable, knee) struggles have been well documented throughout the course of 2019, the former first round draft pick of the 2015 draft has caught 56.5% of his targets and is without a game with 100 yards receiving since week two against the Atlanta Falcons. In fact it’s been three games since the 26-year-old had over 41 yards receiving. Alshon Jeffery reminded us of the threat he posses to defenses with his best game of the year (be it against a woeful dolphins defense) reeling in 9-of-16 targets for 137 yards and a touchdown.

Despite twice blowing comprehensive leads over the Dolphins Jim Schwartz’s defense has been the bedrock of the team over the past month or so. The formidable trio of Derek Barnett (questionable, ankle), Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox have accounted for 45% of the teams sacks, 37.93% tackles for a loss and 47.67% of quarterback hits.

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