Following an alarming 37-31 upset loss in Miami to open December, the Eagles appeared certain to miss the playoffs. Consider what a disaster that would be.
After reaching the Divisional Playoffs last season following their Super Bowl breakthrough, the Eagles were one of this year’s title favorites, ranking just behind the Chiefs and Patriots in the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook’s odds prior to the season kicking off. They were NFC co-favorites alongside the Bears and Saints. Philadelphia was -240 to reach the postseason and offered a +190 return on investment if you chose to fade them.
Teams that carry that significant a burden of expectations can’t open the regular-season’s final month by losing to a Dolphins team that at one point looked like a decent bet to go winless in 2019. Doing so screams that there’s dysfunction behind the scenes.
Philadelphia’s secondary was victimized by Ryan Fitzpatrick to help overcome Carson Wentz’s most productive outing since mid-October, allowing comments about his inaccuracy due to a hand injury and the fact he’s struggled to regain his form pre-ACL tear to linger. Rumors of not getting along with WR Alshon Jeffery have made the rounds too. You know the drill. In professional sports, when you win, those stories go away. When you fail, critics play up the drama and point fingers.
However, the Dallas Cowboys have been wasteful too. With the Redskins and Giants being non-factors, the playoff spot the NFC East is entitled to remains out there for the Eagles to secure, which means this dreadful season where they’ve disappointed and underachieved can at least end with one last surge. While that may not be enough to prevent a major change or two come offseason, picking up an opportunity to host a playoff game on Wild Card weekend would be great for business.
That’s why Thursday’s loss in Chicago served to charge up the Eagles as it has. With Dallas failing to take advantage of Philadelphia’s plight in losing their third straight game, 31-24, at Soldier Field, Philadelphia (5-7 SU, 4-8 ATS) is actually in a position of strength if it can get its act together. By holding serve against New York (2-10, 4-8), it would tie the Cowboys for the NFC East lead. Dallas still has to host the Rams before visiting the Eagles on Dec. 22 and would be in position to be eliminated with losses in both.
The disappointing Eagles might even be able to rest starters in Week 17’s finale against the Giants if it can hold serve in contests that they should be favored in over the next three weeks.
While that’s all lovely on paper, getting it done on the field is what will matter this week as they try and snap a three-game losing streak that is already the franchise’s longest since 2016. Philadelphia will be playing a New York team that its owned over the past five years – take a look at the recent series history below for details – and will incredibly run into an unexpected familiar face it has terrorized in veteran QB Eli Manning, who will start for the first time since a 28-14 loss at Buffalo in Week 2. He’ll be making his 32nd career start against the Eagles and will take the field at Lincoln Financial Field for the 17th time.
Rookie Daniel Jones, who has had some nice moments despite his team’s lack of success, is unlikely to play through a high ankle sprain this week but should be back this month, which may make this the final start of Manning’s career. He’s 116-116 as a starter, so if you’re not a proponent of him reaching the Hall of Fame despite his two Super Bowl wins and stat accumulation over his 16-year run, you don’t want to see an upset here. The 38-year-old former No. 1 overall pick will be without top tight end Evan Engram (foot) – see the injury report below for all details on who is in and out – and will have to fight the elements too.
Rain is expected throughout the day in Philadelphia, and although 15-degree winds may not be too trifling, it probably won’t do much for helping Manning get into an early rhythm. At some point during the game, the weather forecast calls for conditions to finally clear up, so consider that a huge variable in this one and read on for a great take on the Monday night total.
The Giants enter Week 14’s finale with the NFL’s second-worst record, coming in ahead of only Cincinnati, so head coach Pat Shurmur and his staff are certainly on the hot seat but you know the organization will value the clout a No. 2 overall pick would give them in a pretty loaded draft. Ironically, New York is forced to turn back to Manning for at least a week and he may very well be invested in seeing what he’s got left to potentially remain in the league next season.
He wasn’t dropping any hints in his first public comments since being benched in mid-September, but he didn’t look terrible in losses to the Giants and Bills, finishing with two touchdown passes, 556 passing yards and two interceptions. He didn’t look great either, but could be aided here by Philadelphia’s sieve of a pass defense and Saquon Barkley’s desire to have a bounce-back game in what will be just his second game at the Linc, where he broke off a 50-yard TD run and finished with 130 rushing yards while catching nine passes for 99 yards in putting on a show roughly 60 miles from where he went to high school. Barkley hasn’t had a 100-yard rushing day since Week 2 and hasn’t looked much like himself since suffering his own high ankle sprain. If he can get back to his usual form, New York would certainly have a puncher’s chance here since the Eagles have been solid against the run and will likely stack the box to dare Manning to beat them.
Philadelphia is just 3-3 at home this season and have only covered in two of its wins. It is 2-1 SU and has only covered once when favored by over a touchdown and are 1-5 ATS in that situation dating back to December of their Super Bowl season when they narrowly beat the Giants 34-29 as a 7.5-point ‘chalk.’ New York is just 1-5 on the road this season but has covered in half of those contests. It hasn’t won in Philly since a 15-7 upset on the strength of five field goals as the Eagles got shut down under Chip Kelly’s watch back in 2013. Matt Barkley and Michael Vick split time at QB.