Two weeks ago, it was widely assumed the Giants were going to have a more complete team than the Eagles this season. Now that the Giants are sitting on a 0-2 record and the Eagles are at 1-1 with a hard-fought loss on the road in Kansas City, people aren’t so sure.
At this point, it’s probably fair to say New York’s football team was overrated. The offense hasn’t eclipsed 19 points since November — a run of eight games — and the defense, though good, isn’t quite elite. Add a key injury to the mix, and you get a team that doesn’t look particularly threatening.
The Eagles are far from world beaters themselves. But compared to the Giants, they are in much better shape at this stage of the season.
You sort of have to give Eli Manning the nod on the strength of his four trips to the Pro Bowl and two Super Bowls. Then again, Manning appears to be regressing as he approaches his 37th birthday, and truth be told, he’s always been inconsistent and turnover prone. Carson Wentz continues to develop as a passer, plus possesses tremendous mobility, which Manning lacks. But Wentz’s accuracy still needs to improve, and he has the tendency to cough up the football, too. The body of work simply isn’t there. By the time the Eagles and Giants meet again in December, this might not be the case.
Slight edge: Giants
What a mess. The leading rusher in this contest is Wentz (61 YDS), followed by Darren Sproles (50), then LeGarrette Blount (46). Then it’s Orleans Darkwa, who leads the Giants with a mighty 31 yards — and he’s not even the lead back. Even if the combination of Paul Perkins and Darkwa are a push compared to Blount and Wendell Smallwood, Sproles is a superior change-of-pace back to Shane Vereen.
Slight edge: Eagles
WIDE RECEIVERS AND TIGHT ENDS
Odell Beckham Jr. might be the most dangerous player on the field this Sunday — if the Giants' wideout is healthy. Beckham was limited to 34 snaps by an ankle injury in his Week 2 debut, finishing with four receptions for 36 yards. Meanwhile, Alshon Jeffery and Wentz are starting to get on the same page (10 REC, 130 YDS, 1 TD), and tight end Zach Ertz has hit the ground running this season (13 REC, 190 YDS). New York has some big names in its receiving corps, but Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepherd have been little more than window dressing so far. Unless Beckham is 100 percent, the Eagles claim better weapons.
Very slight edge: Eagles
The Eagles are experiencing their share of issues up front. Replacing Isaac Seumalo with Chance Warmack at left guard is probably a step in the right direction. Warmack didn’t live up to his full potential with the Titans, but the fifth-year veteran should stabilize an otherwise solid O-line. The Giants have no such reinforcements on the way. They are stuck with the likes of Ereck Flowers at left tackle and will continue to feature underwhelming starters across the board. This is New York’s Achilles heel right now.
Clear edge: Eagles
DEFENSIVE FRONT SEVEN
Both of these teams have outstanding defensive lines. New York may even boast the better of the two. Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon form one of the premier pass-rushing duos off the edge, while Damon Harrison anchors a stout interior. However, the Eagles hold a distinct advantage at linebacker. Jordan Hicks is coming off a tough game but remains one of the top playmakers in the league, and Mychal Kendricks is off to an amazing start in 2017. Just try to name a linebacker on the Giants. Go ahead. We’ll wait.
Slight edge: Eagles
The Eagles are already down Ronald Darby, and the statuses of Rodney McLeod, Jaylen Watkins and Corey Graham are all up in the air. Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins is out as well, but defense is still strong at that spot with Eli Apple and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Landon Collins are roughly a push, so New York’s superior depth at cornerback would seem to be the difference here.
The kickers are relative unknowns, with three career NFL games between them, so special teams could be a real wild card Sunday. Based off of Sproles being an electric, game-changing punt returner and the Eagles' typically outstanding coverage units, we’ll assume the Eagles have the upper hand. But if the game comes down to a last-second field goal, all bets are off.
Both Doug Pederson and Ben McAdoo are into their second season at the helm. McAdoo did lead the Giants to 11 wins and the playoffs last season. He also has more of a track record as an offensive coordinator, as he was actually in charge of New York’s offense for two years before taking the head job — as opposed to Pederson standing behind Andy Reid in Kansas City. McAdoo is off to a 0-2 start in 2017, so it’s a tough call. If we use defensive coordinators as the tiebreaker, it doesn’t get a whole lot easier, but Giants assistant Steve Spagnuolo does have a Super Bowl ring.
Very slight edge: Giants
These squads are close in many areas, but the difference is along the offensive line. The Giants have one of the worst units in the NFL right now, in a league that has quite a few bad O-lines. Beckham is the X-factor here. If he’s back to full strength, he could give the Eagles' secondary fits, but it’s a big “if.” It’s difficult to envision New York’s offense getting on track at Lincoln Financial Field, where Manning traditionally stinks. On paper, this matchup is not especially close, although anything can happen when NFC East rivals clash.