Nobody is giving the 2-11 New York Giants any chance to compete, let alone defeat, the 11-2 Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday and it’s with good reason.
Despite losing their starting quarterback Carson Wentz for the season last week, many still feel the Eagles are the best team in the NFC and will make it to Super Bowl LII.
The New York Giants, on the other hand, are the worst team in the conference since they’re at the bottom of almost all statistical categories, and the fact that they’ve yet to win a conference game.
So on paper, this is the biggest mismatch of Week 15. But as Herm Edwards says “You play to win the game”, and the Giants will try to win and stop the Eagles from clinching a first-round bye.
Here are the four keys to victory for the Giants on their home turf.
1. Front four must put pressure on Nick Foles
The Giants will likely be without their Pro Bowl safety Landon Collins on Sunday due to an ankle injury, which means the secondary will be even more depleted than it was before.
With the secondary undermanned, Steve Spagnuolo won’t dial up the blitz as much as he would like, especially after the Cowboys made big plays against the Giants blitz just a week ago.
So it’s imperative that the Giants front four get pressure on Nick Foles.
The Giants front four of Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison, and Dalvin Tomlinson have just a combined 12 ½ sacks on the season. But if they can get pressure on Foles, who might be shaky since he’s making his first start of the season, it will bode well for the Giants.
2. Win the turnover battle
The Eagles are a better team than the Giants in just about every facet of the game. The way to defeat a team that’s better than you is to play mistake-free football and force the other team into turning the ball over. The Giants are going to have to force multiple turnovers on Sunday if they have any chance of winning.
In the Giants’ two wins this season they’re plus-5 in turnover differential. The Giants will need to be at plus-3 in turnover differential on Sunday if they’re going to pull off the upset.
3. Be bold on 4th downs
At 2-11, the Giants have absolutely nothing to lose and they need to start playing like it. Once the offense has the ball in Eagles territory and are in questionable field goal range, they need to go for it on 4th-and-manageable instead of punting the ball.
There’s no need for the Giants to play scared or conservative. Go for the jugular and good things can happen.
4. Get the ball to Evan Engram
Evan Engram has been the lone bright spot for the Giants this season and ever since Odell Beckham Jr. was lost for the season, he’s been their best offensive player. Eli Manning must look to Engram early and often, especially on third downs, to keep drives alive. The Eagles have a great defense, but they don’t have anyone who can guard Engram one-on-one.
The Giants enter this game as severe underdogs. The Eagles enter this game flying high with their division crown. Let’s see if this ragtag team can pull off a major upset by doing these four things.