The New York Giants can clinch a playoff berth for the first time since winning “Super Bowl XLVI” with a win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night. A win would also mark the first time since 2007 that the Giants have swept the season series from the Eagles.
Divisional games are always difficult, especially with a short week to prepare. So, the New York Giants know they cannot overlook the 5-9 Philadelphia Eagles, especially since they’ve lost their previous two meetings at Philly by a combined score of 54-7. But this Giants team is much different this year, and if they play the way they’ve played over the last nine weeks, they’ll be victorious on Thursday night.
Here are the keys to victory for the Giants:
1. Get pressure on Carson Wentz
In their Week 9 matchup, Carson Wentz threw 364 yards, which were the most passing yards the Giants defense allowed all season. We probably won’t know until close to kickoff time if cornerback Janoris Jenkins will play due to a bruised back, so it’s imperative that Olivier Vernon and the rest of the Giants front seven are able to pressure Wentz.
2. Shutdown Zach Ertz
The Giants may have the best defense in the NFL, but they have been vulnerable when it comes to covering tight ends. In their first meeting, Zach Ertz caught eight passes for 97. The Eagles will probably to feature Ertz again since they’re unlikely to have success running the ball against the Giants sixth-ranked rush defense.
3. Get the ball to Odell
Whenever Odell Beckham Jr. has the ball in his hands, he’s a threat to score no matter where on the field he is. Simply put, he’s the most dynamic receiver in the league.
In five career games against the Eagles, Beckham is averaging 74 yards receiving and has four touchdowns. The Giants will likely use Beckham once again as a punt returner to see if he can break one for a score.
4. Don’t turn the ball over
One of the reasons the Giants were able to win their second game of the season by double digits last week is because they did not turn the ball over. Eli Manning threw two interceptions in their first meeting, and his last interception almost cost the Giants the game. The Giants, and in particular Manning, must do a better job of not turning over the football.
5. Watch for Darren Sproles catching passes out of the backfield
Darren Sproles is expected to return on Thursday, after missing last week’s game with a concussion. The Eagles love getting the ball to Sproles out in space as he has 47 receptions for the season.
So they’ll try to set up some screens for him and have him catch passes out in the flat. The Giants must have their eyes on Sproles at all times, and not allow for him to get in the open field.