Thursday Night Football Preview

New York Giants @ Philadelphia EaglesSpread / Giants +4.5

It’s here, folks. The prime-time game that every single NFL fan has been waiting for. This is it. This is the big one.

Perhaps the only reason this match-up is in the coveted Thursday Night Football slot this week is so that it gets it out of the way and gives everyone almost three full days to recover before actually enjoying the Sunday afternoon offerings…

I kid, of course. While neither of these two teams have got great records so far in 2020, that could make for a much more entertaining contest. Two teams with nothing to lose, fighting for that 6-10/6-9-1 record that will somehow see them host a Wild Card round game.

New York are coming off their first win of the 2020 campaign thanks to some interesting coaching decisions from Riverboat Ron and his ‘Football Team’. Aside from that touch-and-go win last week, things look pretty bleak in New York. The Giants enter Lincoln Financial Field with a 1-5 record and an abysmal -51 point differential through six games. Daniel Jones is having a really tough time of it, having thrown twice as many INTs (six) as TDs (three). He has also been sacked 17 times, giving up 98 yards in the process.

New York’s run game has stuttered ever since Saquon Barkley went down with his horrible knee injury. Ex-Falcon Devonta Freeman came in to fill the void but has had little impact, with only 164 yards in four games. Daniel Jones leads NYG’s rushing chart with 204 yards from 27 carries, which says a lot.

New York Giants: WR Darius Slayton emerging as a premier playmaker
Tim Heitman – USA TODAY Sports

Meanwhile, in the air, Darius Slayton will hope to continue his impressive form of 406 yards from 44 targets with 3 TDs (I mean, I know that’s hardly Michael Thomas numbers but come on, this is the NFC East…). He is the only Giants player to catch a TD pass this season. Yes, you read that correctly. In 24 quarters (360 minutes) of football, Slayton is the only Giants’ player to have a receiving TD. Unreal…

On the defensive side of the ball is where New York might look to hurt Philadelphia. They have 15 sacks on the season (9th overall) and sacked Kyle Allen three times last week. Leonard Williams looks a new player in the blue side of the Hudson with three sacks on the season. Their run defence is efficient too, holding teams to just 3.7YPC and 105.6YPG (8th overall). With Miles Sanders out of this game due to a knee injury, this is where New York will look to stifle the Philly offence.

Travis Fulgham had 10 catches and 150 yards last week. What happens next? -  Bleeding Green Nation
Justin K. Aller – Getty Images

The Eagles come into Thursday Night’s game off the back of one of their best games so far (although that isn’t really saying much). Carson Wentz took a little while to get going but had a stellar 4th quarter against Baltimore, throwing two TDs and running one in himself, with a couple of successful two-point conversions. Wentz found his footing in the red zone and will look to continue that streak at home against New York. With no interceptions, that marks the first game this year he hasn’t thrown any. While he did turn the ball over in the first quarter, it was a really smart defensive play by DeShon Elliott to punch the ball out.

Wentz will once again have to look to his young band of pass-catchers. with Philadelphia suffering yet more injuries to starters. They will be without Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery, Dallas Goedert, Jalen Reagor and Miles Sanders for the visit of New York. And with a bunch of starters missing across the offensive line, it’s a miracle the Eagles aren’t 0-6. With stand-out Travis Fulgham set to play a big role again this week, Wentz will look to go to his trusted wide-out again and exploit the weak New York pass defence. Fulgham has 284 yards from 18 receptions and 3 TDs, has made some incredibly impressive catches and has been the stand-out star in Philadelphia so far this campaign.

Defensively, Philadelphia will look to carry on their dominant pass-rush. They have 21 sacks on the season (4th overall) and 61 QB pressures (8th overall). Brandon Graham already has five, over half way to his 2019 total of 8.5 already. Josh Sweat continues to emerge as a solid young DE and will look to heap pressure on Daniel Jones from the edge. Jones has given up a turnover in every single professional game he has played in, save for a solitary Week 16 game against Washington. I think this game will certainly see some turnovers.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Philadelphia Eagles
James Lang – USA TODAY Sports

Look for Philadelphia to go at Daniel Jones early. If Graham, Sweat, Barnett and co. can get to Jones and force him to get the ball out, the likes of Darius Slay and Rodney McLeod could benefit from potential misdirected passes. Carson Wentz has to get off to a better start as well and, with DeSean Jackson back this week, Philadelphia could look to go deep down the field early and spread the ball around a struggling Giants secondary.

New York’s pass rush is not to be written off though and if they can take advantage of Philadelphia’s young linemen up front, they could rattle Wentz early and try to make him panic like he has been prone to do this season. New York have 4 INTs and four fumbles recovered in 2020, and those figures could definitely increase on Thursday night. They need to get more production from their run game too, with Jones their leading rusher last week. Freeman and Gallman simply have to contribute.

Writer’s Pick (Steve Tough)

So what does it boil down to? Both QBs struggling, each defence playing fairly well against the rush but not against the pass. The Eagles have the edge when it comes to the pass rush, and I think this game will be won and lost in the trenches. Plus, Philadelphia are back to wearing their midnight-black jerseys on Thursday night. They are 6-0 against New York in black… Philadelphia to take it 27-17.

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