The Eagles (8-7) travel to face the Giants (4-11) on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium. If the Eagles win, they clinch the NFC East.
To the predictions:
Reuben Frank (7-8) The Giants are probably going to score a lot of points Sunday. The Eagles are going to score more. As gaudy as the Giants’ offensive stats have been the last couple weeks, the key matchup is the one between an Eagles’ offense that’s been rolling the last month against the NFL’s No. 29-ranked defense. The Giants have been better on offense the last two weeks — against the Dolphins and Redskins — but they’ve been terrible all year on defense. They’re giving up 28 points per game, their most since 1966 and second-most ever. If the Eagles can jump on the Giants early — and they’ve been better early in games — those Giants players are going to be thinking about getting out of East Rutherford with their health and heading home for the winter. It’s a scary game, a scary situation. Especially if the Eagles let the Giants stay in the game. But I like their chances.
Eagles 37, Giants 29
Dave Zangaro (8-7) This game is much harder than it ought to be going against a 4-11 team, but the Giants have a little something going right now. Daniel Jones is coming off a really impressive performance last week and while that doesn’t always translate to the next week, some confidence for a talented rookie is dangerous. I have some questions about how the Eagles’ defense will stop all the weapons the Giants have, but they did hold the Cowboys to nine points last week and they should be able to slow down Jones and the Giants enough to win this game. On the other side, I expect Carson Wentz to continue to play well.
Eagles 31, Giants 21
Derrick Gunn (7-8) My goodness! How many more injuries will this Eagles team have to endure? Zach Ertz is now dealing with a broken rib and back issues. The regular-season finale outlook is simple: Win and they’re in the postseason party. The Giants would like nothing better than to knock the Eagles out.
The Birds needed overtime to get past the G-men a few weeks ago with old man Eli Manning under center. This time, the Birds’ defense gets to find out what first-round pick Daniel Jones is all about. Jones has a big arm and unlike Manning isn’t afraid to take off and run. He’s the second-leading rusher on the team. Saquon Barkley is healthy again and running like he did his rookie campaign. The Birds still remember what rookie WR Darius Slayton did to them (five catches, 154 yards, two touchdowns). Throw in Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard and the Giants can do some damage. Don’t expect the Giants to just roll over. There’s a lot at stake for many involved. Head coach Pat Shurmur’s job could be on the line. Players are playing for jobs and financial incentives. For Eagles fans, this game could be nerve-racking until the very end.
Eagles 27, Giants 24
Ray Didinger (6-9) Nothing has come easily for the Eagles this season and I don't expect anything to change on Sunday. I know most people think the Eagles will ride their current mojo right through the Giants and straight into the postseason. They may do it, but I don't think it will be the laugher some folks expect.
The Giants have won back-to-back games and while they were against the likes of Miami and Washington, their offense still was impressive. Daniel Jones threw five touchdown passes last Sunday and Saquon Barkley rolled up a club-record 259 yards in total offense. Barkley gave the Eagles fits last season and he may do it again on Sunday.
Here's the good news for the Eagles: the Giants’ defense stinks.
Eagles 31, Giants 24
Andrew Kulp (9-6) It should scare any Eagles fan that Saquon Barkley suddenly looks like the best running back in football again, Daniel Jones is capable of dropping 375 yards and five touchdowns on an opponent, and Sterling Shepard is back and playing well again. The Giants offense is dangerous. The Eagles' defense hasn't played particularly well on the road, either.
That being said, the Eagles are playing with a purpose we haven't seen this season, and Carson Wentz looks amazing. Add in the fact that New York's secondary is terrible, and there's no reason the Birds can't win in a shootout — plus, the stadium should be mostly green and black against a team with nothing to play for and in close proximity to Philly.
Eagles 35, Giants 31
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There will be sports again. I am confident of that. When that will happen and what it will look like remains to be seen. Will we jump right to the playoffs in the NHL and NBA or will they attempt to play regular season games? How many games will MLB look to play and how far are they willing to extend the season into late fall or even winter?
We don’t know what we don’t know. But that doesn’t mean authentic fans can’t prepare right now. And we’re here to help. Here’s a prepared excuse for each of the Philadelphia sports teams if they come up short when play resumes. We’ll also give you a denial that the break was beneficial if each team performs especially well.
Potential Excuse: No team was hotter than the Flyers before the NHL postponed its season. So, it goes to reason that no team was hurt more by hitting the pause button. In a traditional season, the Flyers would have steamrolled their opponents just like they were doing in January, February, and early March. But then you lose momentum and a young team has to deal with a completely unique situation. Another Cup taken from us.
Argument If Things Go Well: The Flyers were already rolling before the break. It really speaks to the mindset instilled by Chuck Fletcher and Alain Vigneault that nothing could derail this juggernaut. Looks like a dynasty in the works.
Potential Excuse: This Sixers team needs Joel Embiid going at 100 percent and it’s impossible for a man that size to be at top conditioning with that long of a break. It’s hard to think of a player in all of sports more negatively impacted by a months-long break than Embiid. It’s just not fair to the Sixers at all.
Argument If Things Go Well: Everybody knew the Sixers didn’t care about the regular season this year. It was all about the playoffs. So it didn’t matter if it started in April or August, this team was going to bring it when it mattered. That’s why you sign a veteran like an Al Horford. For winning time.
Potential Excuse: Starting pitching was always going to be the key. Aaron Nola was primed to win the Cy Young. Zach Wheeler was going to provide the best 1-2 punch in the National League. But a condensed schedule with a lack of training time diminished the Phillies’ greatest strength. MLB should have done a full spring training after the break and played 162 games, into the new year, if needed.
Argument If Things Go Well: 2020 was always going to be better because of Joe Girardi. Gabe Kapler cost them like 20 games last season. Go back. Count them. But Girardi is a winner. He’s won everywhere he’s been. Plus, he’s Philly tough. Blue collar.
Potential Excuse: No team was banking on new faces and a new structure more than the Eagles. The offensive coaching staff was overhauled. They needed all of the prep time they could get. The draft wasn’t even legit this year because there weren't enough in-person meetings. Everyone knows the game tape lies. You have to get to know a guy to see how he fits, especially inPhiladelphia. It’s not even a real season if you don’t have a full mini-camp, in my opinion.
Argument If It Goes Well: Football wasn’t even impacted that much. We won the division last year regardless. Then we turned the team over to Carson Wentz and made him the top leadership voice. Carson’s always been a great leader. Everybody knows that. We just had to make sure his voice and Doug’s voice were the only ones being heard. I don’t think it’s crazy to say Carson might win the next 3-5 MVPs.
We just a few weeks before the 2020 NFL Draft, it’s pretty clear the Eagles’ biggest need is at wide receiver.
While Howie Roseman might not think the cupboard is as bare as the rest of us, it would be a pretty wise bet to think the Eagles will use their first-round pick on a wide receiver. In fact, sports books agree with that notion.
But we’ve spent so much time thinking about the Eagles’ taking a receiver that we haven’t really explored other options. There’s no guarantee they will. In fact, Howie Roseman has been GM for nine drafts and they’ve never used a first-round pick on a receiver in those nine. In 2015, Chip Kelly took Nelson Agholor in the first.
So what if they don’t take a receiver? If they don’t, I think it would be because one of two things (or both) happen:
1. The top receivers are off the board and the value wouldn’t be there to take the next-best receiver at No. 21.
2. A player they really like slips to them, a value they didn’t expect to get. Sort of like last year when Andre Dillard began to slip and they pounced, trading up a few spots to get him. Sometimes good players fall for various reasons.
With a scenario like this in mind, here’s my latest Eagles-only mock draft:
Round 1-21: C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
While Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah is the consensus top cornerback in this year’s class, many think Henderson is CB2 and I agree. Most mock drafts have Henderson going in the teens but if there are a bunch of offensive linemen and a bunch of quarterbacks that go in the top half of the first round, it could theoretically push Henderson down. And if one team that needs a corner likes Kristian Fulton or Jeff Gladney a little more, all of a sudden, Henderson is available.
Then the Eagles would have a decision: Either take the next best receiver or take a player with more value at a position where there’s still need.
At 6-1, 204, Henderson has the potential to be an elite outside corner. And in an off-season where the Eagles have been focused on getting faster, the idea of adding a 200-pound corner who ran a 4.39 at the combine should be pretty exciting. And Henderson’s speed shows up on the field too — he can close a gap quickly.
In his three years as a Gator, Henderson had 6 INTs, 20 PBUs and 4 sacks. While he’s not known as a great tackler — Jim Schwartz does value that — his skills as a cover corner more than make up for it.
Sure, the Eagles have what I think is a pretty desperate need at receiver heading into this draft but cornerback is a need too. Darius Slay is on the team, but the Eagles are committed to the 29-year-old through just the next two seasons. And if the season started today, they’d likely have 5-foot-9 Avonte Maddox starting opposite him.
Round 2-53: Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State
If the Eagles do go with a different position in the first round, it would likely be because there’s a group of receivers they feel have a similar-enough value that one of them will be there in the second round. Aiyuk is one of those players who has been talked about as a first-round pick but every year there are about 50ish guys who are so-called “first-round picks” and all 50 won’t go in the first round.
Aiyuk (6-0, 205) had a breakout season for the Sun Devils in 2019, replacing last year’s first-round pick N’Keal Harry. Last season, Aiyuk caught 65 passes for 1,192 yards (18.3) and 10 eight touchdowns. Aiyuk spent just two seasons at ASU after transferring from Sierra College. Because of that, he still has a ton of room for growth.
He ran a 4.5 at the combine but Aiyuk is definitely a burner, showing off his YAC ability at ASU. His play speed seems faster than 4.5.
In addition to his speed, Aiyuk’s jumps were impressive. He had a 40-inch vert and a 128-inch broad. And Aiyuk’s 33 1/2-inch arms (89th percentile among WRs!) give him a giant catch radius even at 6-foot.
The Eagles are in desperate need all types of receivers right now. I think Aiyuk has the versatility to play inside and outside for the Eagles, who would likely use him in both roles and as an option on screens and quick passes.
Round 3-103: Jabari Zuniga, DE, Florida
It’s purely coincidence that this mock draft has the Eagles taking two Gators in the top three rounds but Howie Roseman, a Gator himself, probably wouldn’t mind.
The Eagles bring back Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett for 2020 and it’s likely that Malik Jackson will have a role on the edge this season too. But after that, the Eagles have Josh Sweat, Genard Avery, Shareef Miller and Joe Ostman. They could use some more depth immediately and some real options long-term.
Zuniga (6-3, 264) had 18 1/2 sacks in four college seasons, so the production isn’t as eye-opening as the physical makeup. It seems possible the Eagles might have overvalued college production in recent years. Here’s a guy with decent college production, but the potential to do a lot more at the next level with good coaching.
An ankle injury in 2019 hurt his final college season. Without it, his production might have been greater and he could have been an earlier Day 2 pick.
Round 4-127: K.J. Hill, WR, Ohio State
You probably don’t need much of an introduction to Hill, who caught 201 passes for 2,332 yards and 20 touchdowns for the Buckeyes over the last four seasons. He became the all-time reception leader at Ohio State.
But Hill’s production far outweighs his athleticism, which could be a problem. With 4.6 speed, he’s not a fast enough player to excel outside. Unlike the first few guys we’ve looked at, Hill’s athletic profile leaves a lot to be desired.
But after adding a guy with a ton of potential in Aiyuk earlier in the draft, I like the idea of double-dipping with a player who has a low ceiling but a sturdy base. Hill might never be a superstar but he was as reliable as they come for one of the top programs in the country for four years; that doesn’t happen by accident.
In 2020, if the Eagles have DeSean Jackson and an early-round receiver stretching the field, Hill would be a dependable short and intermediate target.
Round 4-145: Justin Herron, OT, Wake Forest
With Halapoulivaati Vaitai gone, the Eagles might have to rely on Jordan Mailata as their swing tackle in 2020. That’s exciting but also a little scary based on his lack of football experience. Drafting another tackle in a mid or late round would help replenish the line.
Herron (6-4, 308) definitely has the size to play tackle in the NFL. During his time at Wake Forrest, Herron started 51 games, playing left and right tackle. He tore his ACL in 2018 but returned to as a captain in 2019 and started all 13 games.
There are also those who think Herron best projects as a guard at the next level. Think about him like Matt Pryor, who played tackle in college but can play guard in the NFL. Some real versatility with a guy like Herron.
first at left guard, now at right guard, wake forest’s justin herron has had a tremendous day in both phases pic.twitter.com/jTTPNmXuOX
In Indy, Herron had a pretty good showing, aside from his really bad 3-cone drill (8.41 seconds). He did have a 33-inch vertical jump, a 105-inch broad and put up 27 reps on the bench.
Round 4-146: Akeem Davis-Gaither, LB, Appalachian State
The Eagles probably won’t use a Day 1 or Day 2 pick on a linebacker but the second of two fourth-round compensatory picks seems like a plan for them. If the 2020 season started right now, the Eagles would have some combination of Nathan Gerry, Jatavis Brown, T.J. Edwards and Duke Riley.
At 6-1, 224 pounds, Davis-Gaither is definitely undersized and would probably need to add some weight to play linebacker at the next level, even in today’s NFL. But he’s athletic enough and fast enough to play in sub packages for the Eagles and would be a nice fit at the weakside LB spot in their 4-3 defense. And he’d also be able to contribute on special teams from Day 1.
Round 5-168: Shyheim Carter, S, Alabama
The Eagles will have a new-look safety group this year. Rodney McLeod returns but will be joined by Jalen Mills and Will Parks. They don’t really have any long-term solutions. While taking a safety in the fifth round wouldn’t solve that, it would give them some other options.
Carter (5-10, 194) was a versatile defender for the Crimson Tide and played their STAR position (basically the extra DB in nickel).
Unfortunately for Carter, he had a minor hamstring injury before the combine and wasn’t able to perform. He was hoping to show off speed at his pro day but the NFL basically canceled pro days. There’s concern about Carter’s speed, but he’s pretty confident in it.
Round 6-190: Michael Warren II, RB, Cincinnati
Warren is a 5-foot-9, 226-pound running back nicknamed “Truck.” I’m all in.
In three years with the Bearcats, Warren had 559 carries for 2,918 yards and 34 touchdowns. He also caught 51 passes. That’s a positive and a negative. It’s great to see that production but that’s a big workload and a lot of miles on an undersized running back.
The Eagles could probably use another running back for the 2020 season. They have Miles Sanders and Boston Scott but they really don’t have a third right now. Elijah Holyfield is on the roster, but we’ll need to see what he can really offer. Adding a late-round draft pick or an undrafted player could be an option.
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