Week 17 Giants Versus Eagles – An NFC East Battle

This weekend the Giants host the Eagles in a critical game for the NFC East division title. The Eagles can clinch the NFC East with a victory. If the Eagles lose they would need a Dallas loss to win the division and make the playoffs. The Giants are playing for Giant pride as they were long ago eliminated from the playoffs. This is a meaningful game for both teams, as all games are. This game will have the feel of a playoff game. It should be a hard fought battle. Today I look at the game and key points for a Giant victory.

Five reasons the Giants will win.

1. Daniel Jones has got similar or better statistics than Carson Wentz for the season.

  • Jones’ passer rating is a significant 10 points better than Wentz’s passer rating.
  • On a per game basis Daniel Jones has almost double the touchdowns
  • Jones leads Carson Wentz in passing yards per attempt 6.6 to 6.2.
  • Jones’ rushing yards per attempt is almost twice that of Wentz and Jones rushing yards per game is over twice that of Wentz.

2.  Since the Giants bye week (11) the Giants have a better yards per offensive play than the Eagles. This is also true for the whole year but it got better in the last five games.

 

3. Since the Giants’ bye week in week 11 the Giants have a better defensive yards per play allowed than the Eagles. The opposite was the case prior to the bye week.

 

4. The Giants have a better penalty yards allowed than the Eagles for the season. It has diverged even more since the bye week as shown in the following table.

 

5.  Since the Giants bye week (11) the Giants have a significantly better score margin in the first half. Here are the score margins after the first half from week 12.

 

Five reasons the Eagle will win.

1. Since the Eagles bye week (10) the Eagles have a better 3rd down conversion percentage than the Giants. This has been true also for the whole season.

 

2. The Eagles have a better total yards margin than the Giants for the season and since the Eagle’s bye week. Here are the margins for the season.

 

3. Since the Eagles bye week (10) the Eagles have more first downs than the Giants by almost eight per game. Here are the first downs since week 11.

 

4. the Eagles have allowed a significantly lower passer rating for opponents than the Giants. Here are the allowed passer ratings for the season.

5. Since the Giants bye in week 11 the Eagles have a better second half score margin than the Giants. Here are the second half score margins since week 12.

Keys to The Game

1.  Pressure the Quarterback
The two teams are close in the percentage of quarterback pressures per dropback.  The Eagles have just a 0.8% advantage at 23.4%. The Eagles lead the Giants with 39 sacks to the Giants 35. However Giant Markus Golden leads both teams in sacks and pressures. Golden is eighth in the league with 40 pressures. He is tie for fifth in the league in quarterback hits. The other Giant outside linebacker, Lorenzo Carter, has 21 pressures. The lead Eagle is Brandon Graham who is 33rd in the league with 26 pressures. The other side of the Eagles line has Derek Barnett who has 23 pressures. Golden is 17th in the league with 9.5 sacks. Brandon Graham leads the Eagles with 7.5 which is 32nd in the league.

The Giants 3-4 defensive front three includes Dalvin Tomlinson with 3.5 sacks and 13 pressures, and Dexter Lawrence with 2.5 sacks and 14 pressures. The Giant interior other lineman, Leonard Williams, has 19 pressures for the year (2 teams) and zero sacks. The Eagles run a 4-3 defense. Their interior linemen consist of Fletcher Cox with 3.5 sacks and 19 pressure and Tim Jernigan with 1 sack and 2 pressures.

The Eagles quarterback has been hurried on 11% of dropbacks. That is higher than the Giants 9% of dropbacks. The Giants quarterback has been hit on 11.3% of dropbacks compared to the Eagles 8.2%. Both quarterbacks have either passed in the pocket or the pocket collapsed within 2.3 seconds.

Pro Football Focus named four of the Eagles offensive linemen among the top 25 offensive linemen thru week 15. They are RG Brandon Brooks, RT Lane Johnson, LT Jason Peters and OC Jason Kelce. They rate the Eagles as the highest graded offensive line. ProFootballtalk recently named Peters and Kelce to their top 10 offensive linemen of the decade. Giant RG Kevin Zeitler is the only Giant to make the PFF list. They said – In 61 combined pass-blocking snaps against Ndamukong Suh, Fletcher Cox and Kenny Clark this season Zeitler allowed just one quarterback hurry.

In their week 14 overtime matchup the Giants blitzed Wentz over three times more than the Eagles blitzed Manning. The hurries show that increased production but the sacks do not. The QB hits are decent for the increased blitz rate. Here are the pressure statistics from that game.

 

Both quarterbacks perform well under pressure.

In the Tampa Bay game this year, as reported on msn.com, Daniel Jones was pressured on 47% of his dropbacks and he completed 80% of his passes on those pressured attempts for 233 yards, two touchdowns and a perfect 158.3 passer rating. That’s the 4th-most pressured passing yards by any QB in any regular season game in PFF history (2007-2019). Over that span, there are 1,674 instances of a QB attempting at least 12 pressured pass attempts in a game. Jones was the first to record a perfect passer rating.

Through week six this season, there were only three quarterbacks to record a passing grade above 70 when under pressure: Russel Wilson at 87.5, Carson Wentz at 83.0 and Aaron Rodgers at 76.7.

This season when Wentz was blitzed in the double digits his win percentage doubled, his passer rating went up 6 points and his interceptions decreased by half. His bad throw percentage did increase by 2.5%. Other statistics such as completion percentage, sacks and 1st down percentage remained relatively the same. In the Giants game the Giants blitzed Wentz 18 times which was the most by any team. He was sacked three times but his overall passer rating (109) and completion percentage (70) was above his season average and his bad throw percentage was below the average.  It may be better to try to get pressure without as much blitzing as last game.

 2. Cover the Pass

Here are the coverage results from their last game in week 14.

Player Tm Int Tgt Cmp Cmp% Yds Yds/Cmp Yds/Tgt TD Rat DADOT Air YAC YAC / Rec
Alec Ogletree NYG 0 6 6 100.0% 71 11.8 11.8 1 155.6 5.2 31 40 6.7
Deone Bucannon NYG 0 3 2 66.7% 36 18 12 0 107.6 5 18 18 9.0
Michael Thomas NYG 0 3 3 100.0% 23 7.7 7.7 0 98.6 2 6 17 5.7
Janoris Jenkins NYG 0 8 6 75.0% 55 9.2 6.9 0 93.2 2.5 21 34 5.7
Sam Beal NYG 0 7 5 71.4% 51 10.2 7.3 0 92 12.4 38 13 2.6
Julian Love NYG 0 10 5 50.0% 35 7 3.5 1 91.7 3.7 14 21 4.2
David Mayo NYG 0 3 3 100.0% 13 4.3 4.3 0 84.7 -2.3 -7 20 6.7
Antoine Bethea NYG 0 4 2 50.0% 34 17 8.5 0 79.2 14 26 8 4.0
Deandre Baker NYG 0 6 1 16.7% 7 7 1.2 0 39.6 11.5 7 0 0.0
Total 50 33 66.0%
Ronald Darby PHI 0 7 5 71.4% 151 30.2 21.6 2 153.3 17.9 96 55 11.0
Rodney McLeod PHI 0 1 1 100.0% 10 10 10 0 108.3 10 10 0 0.0
Duke Riley PHI 0 2 2 100.0% 5 2.5 2.5 0 79.2 -0.5 -1 6 3.0
Avonte Maddox PHI 0 2 1 50.0% 11 11 5.5 0 66.7 14 4 7 7.0
Nathan Gerry PHI 0 5 3 60.0% 10 3.3 2 0 64.6 -0.6 -4 14 4.7
Nigel Bradham PHI 0 3 1 33.3% 2 2 0.7 0 42.4 12.3 2 0 0.0
Jalen Mills PHI 0 3 1 33.3% 7 7 2.3 0 42.4 8.7 7 0 0.0
Malcolm Jenkins PHI 0 4 1 25.0% 7 7 1.8 0 39.6 8 6 1 1.0
Total 27 15 55.6%

 

Giant cornerback DeAndre Baker had a lights out game. The allowed passer rating when he was targeted was 39.6 with six targets and one completion. On his one completion he allowed zero yards after the catch. Eagles strong safety also had a good game allowing just 1 completion on 4 targets with 1 yard allowed after the catch.

On the negative side Giant Alec Ogletree had the worst day among Giant coverage plays. He was targeted six times allowing six completions for an allowed 155.6 passer rating when targeted. He also allowed an average 6.7 yards after the catch per reception. Ogletree was injured and did not play last week against Washington. Deone Bucannon took his place. For the season on the Giants Bucannon has allowed a higher passer rating when targeted than Ogletree. It is uncertain if Ogletree will play this Sunday against the Eagles.

Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby had a equivalent bad day. He allowed five completions on seven targets for 151 yards and a whopping average 11 yards after the catch. His allowed passer rating when targeted was 153.3. Ronald Darby has been placed on injured reserve. Head coach Doug Pederson said Rasul Douglas will start at cornerback with Darby out. Rasul Douglas has started 5 games in 2019. He has had 60 targets and allowed 34 catches for a 56.7% completion rate and a 115.9 passer rating when targeted. Douglas has allowed an average 5.6 yards after the catch.

Eagles tight end Zach Ertz leads all tight end in targets and is second in receptions. Ertz is ninth among all receivers in targets. He played last week with a fractured rib that occurred in the first quarter. It is unknown if he will play this weekend. The other tight end Dallas Goedert  is also a highly rated player. In the Dallas game last week he caught a touchdown pass. On a drive with 1:52 remaining on the half Goedert caught five consecutive passes for a total of 59 yards. In the fourth quarter he had a 22 yard reception. His 5.9 yards after the catch per reception is seventh best among tight ends. In the Dallas game Goedert made most catches in the middle and the intermediate range. Although Goedert also had a deep right catch and a screen pass to the left.  The Giants have to spend special attention the the Eagles tight ends as the Eagles are hurting in the wide receivers players with injuries. In the Dallas game last week 75% of their targets and 77% of the Eagles receptions were for running backs or tight ends.

The Giants could use a  lot of nickel defense formation in which they use five defensive backs to aid in covering tight ends and slot receivers. The Giants nickel package includes three rookies of DeAndre Baker, Julian Love and Corey Ballentine with Michael Thomas and Antoine Bethea at safety. Ballentine has been playing the nickel position.  With the exception of Robert Davis, the Eagles receivers are not exceptionally fast. I hope to see the Giants play more tight man-to-man coverage as opposed to zone. Their zone coverage often appears to be too soft leaving receivers open.

3. Stop the Run

The Eagles want to run the ball. They are seventh in rushing attempts and twelfth in rushing yards and rushing first downs. Luckily the run defense from the interior line is one of the strengths of the Giants team. The Giants 3.9 rushing yards allowed per attempt is fifth in the league. However they have allowed 91 rushing first downs which is seventeenth in the league and 16 rushing touchdowns which is 27th in the league. The Giants have allowed 11 rushing plays of 20+ yards which is 23rd in the league. Many of the big runs have occurred on the edge.  In Miles Sanders 100-yard rushing game against the Redskins his big rushes of 5+ yards were distributed as right end two rushes for 18 yards, left end two rushes for 67 yards and interior two rushes for 22 yards. He also had large pass plays of short passes and runs of two to the left for 26 yards, one to the right for 15 yards and two in the middle for 12 yards. The Giants have to play sound fundamentals of getting off your blocks and Contain on the edge. Force the runner inside.

4. Execute on Offense

I believe offensively the Giants match up favorably against a banged up Eagle offense. The Giants have the edge in wide receivers with Shepard, Slayton and Tate. A Saquon Barkley on his game has the edge over Miles Sanders. The Eagles have the edge on the offensive line. The tight end edge goes to the Eagles.

I like Daniel Jones versus Carson Wentz. Jones needs to eliminate the fumbles. Otherwise Jones has shown accuracy, poise, toughness, mobility, and the ability to lead drives with the game on the line. Jones has gone against eleven teams and other than the Vikings game, Jones has led the team to either a victory or a close game in the fourth quarter. I list the games in my post The Giants Are Improving And Not Just Behind The Scenes. Daniel Jones is his own man, but I see a lot of similar positive traits between him and Eli Manning. Jones may only have three victories but two of those were with game winning drives.

In Conclusion

This should be a real battle. The Eagles are playing to win the division and make the playoffs or else they most likely will be out. The Giants have a long history of playing tough even in games that the outcome does not matter to them. They have continued to do so this season. No game is meaningless. The Giant offense is more than capable to produce to keep this a close game. Like many games this year it will come down to the Giant defense limiting the opposition. This is not a slight on the defense. They also have fought hard every game right to the end. Against the Redskins the Giants started four rookies on defense if you count Sam Beal as a rookie. Three of those rookies were in the secondary. Rookies DeAndre Baker, Julian Love and Dexter Lawrence have all played well of late. The Giants have the talent, grit and drive to pull off the upset victory.  Enjoy the Game. Go Giants!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *