There are nearly a dozen storylines surrounding the Eagles’ Week 9 match up in New York against the Giants on Sunday (at 1 p.m. on Fox).
It’s not only a divisional battle, a game both teams desperately need to win, but also a game between two storied rivals.
It’s a bounce-back game for the Eagles, who are coming off a devastating overtime setback in Dallas that exposed several key weaknesses and saw even more opportunitiessquandered.
It’s the first game for the Eagles after releasing troubled wide receiver Josh Huff. And that’s just scratching the surface.
When things kick off at MetLife Stadium, all eyes will be on this evenly matched contest between two 4-3 foes. Whoever is victorious will sit in solo second place in the NFC East.
Here are three things we’ll be watching for in the game:
Slowing down a healthy ODB
When Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. are able to hook up consistently in a game, the Giants are lethal.
After nursing some minor injuries in recent weeks, Beckham says he is nearing 85-90 percent health heading into this week’s game. That means the Eagles defense must make sure they pay close attention to him on every single play.
“He’s tough,” Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said.”We’ve had some good receivers this year, really starting with [Browns WR Terrelle] Pryor … Whether it was him, [Bears WR] Alshon Jeffery, [Steelers WR] Antonio Brown, it seems like every week there is a guy like that. Beckham is similar to Brown in some ways. He’s got extreme quickness. He can take a short pass and go the distance with it. He can threaten every inch of the field lengthwise and widthwise. And it’s not just him down the field. We’ve got to do a great job of tackling him.”
When Giants quarterback Manning has time in the pocket, he can do a lot of damage. Lucky for the Eagles, they have one of the best pass rushes in football.
Also lucky for the Eagles, the New York offensive line isn’t much better than the Vikings line the defense thoroughly dominated a few weeks ago.
“Eli is so good at getting that ball out quick and avoiding the bad plays, that it sort of makes up for their lack of run game,” Schwartz said. “I think that that’s probably — that’s just as important. It doesn’t matter how they gain yards, it’s a matter of gaining yards and scoring points.”
The Giantsrun game can be lacking, but the weapons on offense — Victory Cruz, Sterling Shepherd and others — makes up for it. Making Manning think quickly could keep the offense off the field.
Everyone knows the numbers. The Birds are in the bottom four in every statistical category related to receptions. The passing offense rarely goes down the field and Carson Wentz has shown to be reliant — in recent weeks — on short passes galore.
The Eagles lead the NFL in drops and without Josh Huff, pressure will be on Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor and DorialGreen-Beckham to actually produce in Week 9.
“We’re not playing to the level that we need to be playing at,” Matthews told Philly.com. “You can even throw me in there, too — me included with the whole group. It’s on us to all say internally, how are we each going to go out there and not just do our job, but do our job to a level that now we’re a threat to people? …
“It needs to be, ‘OK, we need to be worried about these guys.’ I know our defensive guys, [reporters] are going to ask them about the Giants wide receivers and what threat are they to [the defense]. We need to play to that level to where other teams are saying, ‘We’ve got to get ready for these guys.’ That’s just on us.”