There is no doubt about it: The New York Giants (0-2) are playing a must-win game against the Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) today.
Sure, it’s not a must-win game mathematically, since if the Giants were to lose they would be 0-3 with 13 games remaining. But realistically when you look at the upcoming schedule and the way the Giants have played so far, it’s hard to imagine them going on a long winning streak and getting above .500.
Ever since the NFL went to its current playoff format, only three teams have made the playoffs after starting the season 0-3. No 0-3 team has pulled it off since 1998.
Having a must-win game against the Eagles is a daunting task for the Giants, especially on the road. They haven’t won in Philly since 2013, and in their last three trips there, they’ve scored a combined 26 points.
To make matters worse, several key Giants are banged up. Linebackers B.J. Goodson (shin) and J.T. Thomas (groin), along with offensive tackle Bobby Hart (ankle), have already been ruled out. Big Blue’s best cornerback, Janoris Jenkins (ankle), remains questionable.
Playing the Eagles has been a nightmare for Eli Manning, who has lost 12 of his last 16 starts against Philadelphia. In his last four games against them, he has failed to post a QBR of 60 and has turned the ball over eight times.
He and the rest of the Giants will need to play better—and take better care of the football—if they have any chance to win.
The onus is also on head coach Ben McAdoo to turn things around. McAdoo was thought to be an offensive genius when the team hired him away from Green Bay as their offensive coordinator in 2014, and it’s the reason they promoted him to head coach in 2016 after parting ways with Tom Coughlin.
But the Giants offense has been putrid and predictable for more than a year now. They haven’t scored at least 20 points in eight consecutive games. Heading into Week 3, only one team—the Cincinnati Bengals (9)—has scored fewer points than the Giants (13).
More than ever, McAdoo needs to make in-game adjustments and use different formations. Since McAdoo has been on the staff, the Giants have been in three-wide receiver formations 91 percent of the time.
It’s easy to defenses to scheme against the Giants offense since they know what formation they’ll be in.
It’s also imperative that McAdoo do something with left tackle Ereck Flowers. He either has to have a running back or tight end help him in pass blocking—or hold him accountable for his poor play and bench him. Giving up three sacks in a game, as he did last week, can’t happen again.
A win would be huge for the Giants’s confidence on Sunday. Depending on what happens with the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins, the Giants could find themselves in a four-way tie in the NFC East or, worst-case scenario, just a game back of the division lead.
A loss, however, would be devastating. It would put the Giants in a hole that will be too deep to dig out of.
The Giants had realistic Super Bowl expectations coming into this season. Those expectations will go down the drain if they don’t find a way to defeat the Eagles.