These Jalen Hurts Eagles are nobody’s Rocky. More like Clubber Lang sprinting up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The Giants will show up anyway.
They know they will have to play the way December contenders play, not necessarily the perfect game, but damn close.
There are inalienable football truths that so often define the difference between winning and losing. … The one that looms largest over the others in Eagles-Giants on Sunday is espoused by Saquon Barkley:
“It’s the same thing as every game: Dominate the line of scrimmage. You dominate the line of scrimmage, you win football games.”
Serby’s Big Blueprint for shocking the world:
Bully the bullies: The Eagles have a massive, elite offensive line.
“Probably one of the best in the NFL. That might be an understatement,” Kayvon Thibodeaux said.
Veteran center Jason Kelce is the anchor.
“He’s fast. When you think about a center that can move, that’s scrappy, you think about Kelce,” Justin “Jelly” Ellis said.
The matchup there is Kelce’s brain against Dexter Lawrence’s brawn.
“I saw some statistics about their center being like no pressures, no sacks, no nothing,” Thibodeaux said. “I talked to Dex like, ‘Hey, that’s the guy you’re going against.’ He just kind of laughed at me, and we went on to the meeting.”
Thibodeaux laughed when it was suggested that he was attempting to rile up Lawrence.
“Definitely trying to put some red in front of that bull,” Thibodeaux said.
The Giants offensive line must stand up to and hold up against the army of defensive linemen that the Eagles (42 sacks) will throw at Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley — and keep your fingers crossed that his questionable neck is not problematic.
Play to win: The quote from Herm Edwards was not, “You play to tie the game.” Don’t be afraid to go for it this time on a critical fourth-and-3. Third-and-1 deep in enemy territory before the half? Take an end-zone shot. Nothing wrong with a fake punt or fake field goal either, at the right time. Send a message to the Eagles that forfeiting the game was never a consideration.
Start fast: Play from ahead. Get your fans into the game early. The Eagles can be vulnerable early: The Jaguars jumped on them in a 14-0 first quarter before losing 29-21, and the Colts took a 13-3 lead into the fourth quarter before folding in a 17-16 defeat.
“You can’t let up, because I feel like they’ve been down this year and they came back, so I feel like once you get on ‘em you gotta stay on ’em,” Ellis said.
Win on first down: “You want to keep your offense on schedule, so that way the offensive coordinator has his whole Rolodex of play calls and stuff like that,” Evan Neal said. Third-and-manageable is preferable to third-and-unmanageable.
Home run: Saquon and Daniel Jones need to outrush Miles Sanders and Hurts. Houston’s Dameon Pierce and Davis Mills (157 combined yards) outrushed Sanders and Hurts (116) in a 29-17 loss. Brian Robinson and Taylor Heinicke (96 combined yards) outrushed Sanders and Hurts (82) in the Commanders’ 32-21 upset.
Barkley has averaged just 2.8 per carry over his past three games. Deploy him in the passing game as well. His six receptions in Week 1 was a season high. Anyone remember his rookie season when he caught 91 balls?
Keep pounding: The Commanders kept Hurts on the sideline for 40:24, but that’s a pipe dream. But the Giants were encouraged by the Commanders’ persistence on the ground (152 yards).
Neal: “They were just playing really sound. Took care of the ball well, and they never lost their poise, they just kept chipping away, chipping away, one play after the next. Philly made a good play, they didn’t let it affect them. Took ’em out to the deep end, and that’s kind of what you’re gonna have to do to win games like that.”
Andrew Thomas: “They just had a physical mindset, you could tell that they wanted to run the ball, and they fought hard to do that. It wasn’t easy, it’s never gonna be easy if it’s a good front, but they got good double-teams, and they kept chopping. That’s the way to do it.”
It’s worth noting that mountainous Eagles rookie defensive tackle Jordan Davis has returned, and Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph have been added, and Derrick Henry (11 rushes, 30 yards) was stuffed last week.
No spy games: The Packers tried it with rookie linebacker Quay Walker, and Hurts (157) led a 363-yard rushing assault in a 40-33 victory. Unless, of course, Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale can find better spies.
“You want to put athletic enough guys on the field that can do their job, and then rally to the football when it’s time,” Thibodeaux said.
It won’t be easy. Hurts is enjoying an MVP season as a dangerous dual threat.
“I wouldn’t compare him to Lamar [Jackson] as a runner,” Thibodeaux said. “I would compare him more to a Justin Fields, a Kyler Murray, just because I like the way he continues to look downfield and want to make plays. I like the way his decision-making is great. I feel like he’s gonna be a great quarterback for a long time.”
Resiliency: “Playing against a great team like that, they’re gonna make plays,” Thomas said. “It’s gonna be based on how we respond to that.”
Ball security: A key to victory in any game, but never more important than against a team that leads the NFL with 22 takeaways.
“Don’t turn the ball over,” Darius Slayton said.
Jones will need to be the efficient battlefield commander. Take shots downfield to Slayton against either Darius Slay or James Bradberry, if only to loosen things up for slants and intermediate throws. Feel free to test undrafted rookie safety Reed Blankenship now that ballhawk safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson (six interceptions) is out (kidney). Tight end Daniel Bellinger can match his season high in receptions (five). Heinicke (one INT) and Matt Ryan (zero INTs) both threw for more than 200 yards against this defense. … Davis Mills threw two picks in the second half.
Ya Gotta Believe: “Every next game is gonna have to be our best game,” Thibodeaux said.
Why is that?
“Because it’s December. Nothing you did before matters. It’s all about what you do now.”
It can be done.
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