The Philadelphia Eagles have little time to mope about their close-but-no-cigar loss to the Baltimore Ravens this past Sunday. After a shortened week of practice, the Birds will play host to the New York Giants on Thursday Night Football. Both teams enter the contest with poor records, the Eagles at 1-4-1 and the Giants at 1-5. This is a favorable matchup for the Eagles, and they opened as 6.5 point favorites. Below, find both some notable injury news for the Birds and their keys to success in week 7.
The injury dip
The most significant injury news relates to running back Miles Sanders, who exited Sunday’s Ravens’ game with a knee injury. He is scheduled to undergo an MRI and those results will determine his availability for week 7. Given that the game is fast approaching on Thursday, it seems unrealistic that he will be available. Boston Scott would take over as the leader of the backfield in his absence.
Also going through an MRI was tight end Zach Ertz, who sustained an ankle injury on Sunday. He is expected to miss 3-4 weeks with the injury that is officially being diagnosed as a high ankle sprain. Despite still only producing meager production (4 catches for 33 yards), Ertz still soaked up ten targets and will be sorely missed by the Eagles offense who are already without fellow tight end Dallas Goedert.
Meanwhile, DeSean Jackson is fully expected to return to action on this Thursday. The veteran wide receiver has been consistently sidelined with a hamstring injury but can now help out the Eagle’s aerial attack.
– Three keys to success –
Win the turnover battle
My expectation is that the team who wins the turnover battle will also see success on the final scoreboard. While this is usually the case in today’s NFL, it is particularly pertinent for this game because of how susceptible each team’s quarterback has been to turning the ball over this season. Daniel Jones has thrown six interceptions this season to Wentz’s nine, but has really done his damage in the fumbling department, having already lost three this season. Wentz is generally secure with the football, but did lose one early in the Raven’s contest which was a primary contributor to the early hole the team found themselves in. Both quarterbacks are still striving to play a game devoid of any turnovers. The starter who can pull that off will come away victorious this Thursday.
Protect Carson Wentz (Get creative?)
It is no secret that the Eagles’ offensive line has been abysmal this season. Wentz has been under pressure left, right, and center making it tough to draw real conclusions about the nature of his play this year.
Moving in a different direction as it relates to playcalling is one possible solution to the Eagles’ troubles up front. Pederson opened last week’s game with three straight pass calls, which resulted immediately in Baltimore defenders finding their way to Wentz in the backfield. Whether Miles Sanders is healthy enough to play or not, the establishment of the run will be imperative to keeping Wentz upright throughout the game.
Another, albeit more creative, salve may be the increased utilization of rookie Jalen Hurts. The Eagles offense seemed to respond positively to his presence on the field and he was able to spark effective gains during moments when the team couldn’t seem to get anything going. This is not to suggest that the Eagles should lean too heavily on gadget play designs, but sprinkling in doses of Hurts to keep opposing defenses on their toes also comes with the added benefit of giving Wentz’s body a break. These breaks will be much needed as his body has taken incredible punishment so far this season.
Focus defensive resources on Slayton
Similar to the Eagles, the Giants have experienced injuries that have capped their offensive potential this year. Most notable for the New York squad is the absence of Saquon Barkley after he suffered an early season ACL tear. However, one player who has been quite productive for their offense is receiver Darius Slayton.
The second year receiver is having a fantastic season with 25 receptions for 406 yards and three touchdowns. Other receiving options, such as Evan Engram, Sterling Shephard, and Golden Tate, were more highly touted coming into the year, but it has been Slayton who has outpaced them all. Slayton is riding a two-week hot streak, having topped 120 yards against Cowboys and scored a touchdown against The Washington Football team. The Eagles need to make sure he doesn’t continue this pattern on Thursday.
I truly believe this will be the week that Eagle’s season starts to turn around. While the Eagles’ record isn’t much better than the Giants, they have by and large been more competitive in their games this year. I’m certainly taking the Eagles in this Thursday night contest. Eagles 27, Giants 17.