Eagles

Eagles-Giants predictions by our (cough) experts

Eagles-Giants predictions by our (cough) experts

The Eagles do not have much to play for and the Giants do.

On a five-game losing streak, the Eagles (5-9) look to play spoilers Thursday night at the Linc against the Giants (10-4), who can clinch a playoff berth with a win.

Here are our (cough) expert predictions for the Week 16 matchup.

Reuben Frank (7-6)
It's really hard to lose every game, and I think this is the week the Eagles end their losing streak.

You saw in that Panthers-Redskins game how a team that's already been eliminated and has nothing to play for can be loose and carefree against a playoff-hopeful team that desperately needs a win and can be tight and play not to lose. Even the Eagles-Ravens game, we saw a lot of that, although the Eagles fell just short.

But I just don't think the Giants are that good. They're 10-4 and I don't think they're an 11-4 kind of team.

I think the Eagles go in loose and play their best game since they beat the Falcons back on Nov. 13. They know the Giants, they know how to beat them — they're 13-4 against the Giants in the last 17 meetings, and 4-1 in the last five, and a lot of the current roster has been a part of those two trends. The Eagles are still 4-2 at home. So I say the franchise can delude itself into believing this means something.

Eagles 24, Giants 20

Dave Zangaro (6-8)
It goes against a ton of logic to pick the Eagles this week, but that's exactly what I'm doing. 

Believe it or not, I was ready to predict a win over the Giants even before seeing the game against the Ravens. The 27-26 loss Sunday only cemented the pick. 

I know the Eagles are 0-6 in one-score games this year. I know that's the worst record in such games this year. On the flip side, I know the Giants are 8-2 in those games, with one of the wins coming against the Eagles in November. 

But the Birds and Carson Wentz showed me something on that final fourth-quarter drive against the Ravens and I think they're ready to snap their five-game losing streak. 

And I think they pick up their first one-score win of the year. 

Eagles 26, Giants 21

Derrick Gunn (7-7)
It's a short turnaround for the Eagles and Giants, and the Giants are on a mission. If they win, the Giants will clinch a postseason spot. The Eagles have nothing to play for except pride and hoping to spoil the Giants' playoff celebration.

After losing to Seattle, Green Bay and Cincinnati by double digits, the Birds were more competitive against Washington — losing by five — and Baltimore — a one-point loss.

Lane Johnson is finally back to stabilize the right side of an offensive line that found a potent run game against the Ravens' previously-top-ranked run defense.

The Giants' defense has played better every week. Since Week 7, Big Blue has allowed an average of 14.9 points per game. Jason Pierre-Paul is out, and Janoris Jenkins may miss this one as well.

The Eagles are poised to snap their current losing streak. I'm tempted to pick them in an upset, but don't feel confident enough they can pull it off.

Giants 23, Eagles 20

Ray Didinger (7-7)
I've been talking down the Giants all season but here they are at 10-4 with two wins over Dallas and a chance (OK, an outside chance) to win the NFC East. I'm still not impressed with their offense. The line is nothing special, they can't run the ball and Eli Manning has been up and down. But the Giants are killing it on defense. They shut down the Cowboys and Lions the last two weeks, so if they were able to put the clamps on those two offenses, they shouldn't have much trouble with the Eagles.
 
I'd like to make a case for the Eagles rallying here, playing for pride, finishing strong, yada, yada, but I don't think it matters. The Giants are hot and have everything to play for. I don't expect them to score much but they will score enough.
 
Giants 20, Eagles 10

Andrew Kulp (7-7)
For whatever reason, the Giants do not play well at Lincoln Financial Field, and in particular have struggled when the Eagles wear all black. The Eagles' offense should be the strongest it's been since September too now that Lane Johnson is back in the lineup.

I wasn't going to pick the Eagles anymore this season except maybe against the Cowboys' backups next week, but they've played hard the past couple games and are due for a win. Starting to think they still might have a shot at finishing 7-9 after all.

Eagles 27, Giants 17

Corey Seidman (7-7)
Call me crazy but I actually think the Eagles can win this game, especially if Jenkins doesn't play. And that's coming from a guy who's picked the Eagles to lose six weeks in a row.

They're at home, which didn't matter against Washington or Green Bay but has made a difference most of the season.

Wentz at home: 66 percent completions, 7.1 yards per attempt, 253 yards per game, six TDs, four INTs.

Wentz on the road: 60 percent completions, 5.7 yards per attempt, 234 yards per game, seven TDs, nine INTs.

They have their full offensive line back in tact, they're familiar with Manning and have beaten the Giants four of the last five times.  

The Giants are 10-4 but they're not an overwhelming, dominant 10-4. Six of their wins are by five points or less and only two were by more than a touchdown.

I'm foreseeing the Eagles scoring on defense or special teams in what's expected to be an ugly game, like all Thursday nighters. Also, I think Wentz builds off that final drive in Baltimore, which probably removed a boulder from his shoulder even though the Eagles lost.

Eagles 20, Giants 17

Andy Schwartz (7-7)
The Giants are on a roll, having won eight of nine after a three-game losing streak. 

The highly-paid defense is on a roll too. The Giants have allowed a combined 13 points in their last two games and have allowed less than 17 — Jim Johnson’s benchmark — in four of five.

So no chance for the Birds, right?

Wrong. Upsets happen.

Lane Johnson is back. He’ll be rusty, but he’ll certainly help the offense.

Plus, the Giants don’t pile up the points (19.4 per game), so the Eagles’ defense, like it did in Baltimore, should give them a chance.

This time, they’ll take advantage of it and end this five-game losing streak.

Eagles 27, Giants 24

Eagles bring back special teams maven Bryan Braman

usa-bryan-braman.jpg
USA Today Images

Eagles bring back special teams maven Bryan Braman

The Eagles have brought back a former special teams ace for the stretch run. 

Special teamer Bryan Braman on Tuesday signed with the Eagles to rejoin Dave Fipp's special teams group.

Braman, 30, had been with the Eagles from 2014-16, when he was a major contributor for Fipp's top-end special teams unit. He can help fill the void left by the season-ending injury to Chris Maragos earlier in the season. 

During his three seasons with the Eagles, Braman led all Eagles with 1,214 special teams snaps. He played more special teams snaps than any other Eagle in each of the last two seasons. He played in all 48 games over those three seasons, but was mainly a special teams player. 

After officially placing quarterback Carson Wentz (ACL) on Injured Reserve Tuesday, the Eagles had one available roster spot. It looks like it will be filled by Braman. 

Braman was not resigned by the Eagles this past offseason. He spent some time in New Orleans but was placed on their IR and was then released. He hasn't been with a team since early September. 

Eagles' offense 'full steam ahead' with Nick Foles at QB

Eagles' offense 'full steam ahead' with Nick Foles at QB

Carson Wentz is out, Nick Foles is in. 

And the Eagles claim their offense isn't going to change. 

On it's face, that seems somewhat absurd. After all, Wentz is more than an average quarterback. He's the face of the Eagles' franchise and was an MVP candidate through 13 weeks. Foles was once a Pro Bowler, but there's a reason he wasn't a starter entering this season. 

So how will the offense look different? 

"I don't expect it will look different at all," Foles said adamantly.  

Why is that? 

"Because it's our offense," Foles answered. "This is the Eagles' offense. This is the one that is the DNA of this team. And we're going to do what we do. We have so many tremendous players on offense that can do a lot of different things. We just have to go out there and execute and have a great week of work and just keep moving." 

Offensive coordinator Frank Reich finally admitted that there will be "very minor tweaks" to the Eagles' weekly game plans with Foles in at quarterback. But he made the same point as Foles, that the system is built around the QB, but also around the other talent on offense. 

There is, however, one pretty significant difference between Wentz and Foles. 

"Now, Carson has some unique physical traits that he does exceptionally well, but it's nothing that Nick can't handle," Reich said. "We're full steam ahead."

The Eagles run plenty of run-pass option plays, but head coach Doug Pederson pointed out on Monday that the Eagles very rarely use their quarterback to run the ball in those situations. And as far as RPOs go, Foles has used them plenty before. 

Another part of the offense that has been tailored to Wentz is the autonomy the quarterback has at the line of scrimmage. Wentz has been able to make calls and checks pre-snap based on what the defense shows. It seems like Foles will have that same ability, which is something he's excited about. 

"Understand this, he's a veteran player who has played and won a lot of games, not only here, but other places that he's been," Pederson said. "Nick's a highly intelligent football player."

Pederson said he and Foles will talk weekly to make sure his quarterback is comfortable with the plays that go into the game plan. So, theoretically, things could be different. But based on what the offensive leaders of the team have said, don't expect wholesale changes. 

Now, what might change about the offense isn't necessarily by design. Because of Wentz's unique physical gifts and escapability, he's able to make incredible plays. The escape in Washington, the throw to Corey Clement in the end zone, the deep flick down the sideline in Seattle, those are plays only a handful of guys in the world can make. It would be unfair to expect Foles to make them. 

But as far as game-planning goes, the Eagles are going to do what they've done. 

"I feel comfortable in this offense," Foles said. "I love this offense. We're going to run this offense. Nothing's going to change."

Foles dealt with elbow soreness during the summer, but says his elbow now feels "amazing" and is not an issue. That's good news for the Eagles, because at least Foles has plenty of starting experience. His backup, Nate Sudfeld, has never even been active for an NFL game. 

The Eagles' hopes in 2017 rest on the shoulders of Foles. 

"I've always been a gunslinger, just let it rip," Foles said. "That's what I'm going to do. I'm going to play loose, count on the guys, lead this team. There's no other place I'd rather be. That's why I came back here. ... I'm ready to step up and help this team win."