It’s Christmas time and the New York Giants can give their fans an early present by locking down their place in the playoffs when they face off against the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday Night Football.
The Giants are one of the form teams in the NFL, winning eight of their last nine contests, including two huge wins over the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions in back-to-back games.
Ben McAdoo’s men can secure their spot as a wildcard in the playoffs and put pressure on the Cowboys at the top of the NFC East in their bid for the number one seed in the NFC Conference.
The Giants have not been firing on all cylinders on offense, despite the presence of All-Pro wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr and two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback Eli Manning. Instead they have been relying on their shutdown defense to win them matches, limiting their last two opponents to a combined 13 points in their victories at MetLife Stadium.
The consistency of their secondary has been one of their success stories of the season, with Landon Collins and Janoris Jenkins leading the charge to prevent opposing offenses from moving downfield.
New York will be licking their lips at the prospect of facing the Eagles, who had a bright start to the campaign, but since week four have come crashing down to earth and are staring down the possibility of a 5-11 campaign.
Rookie quarterback Carson Wentz has shown enough promise to believe that he will a successful signal-caller in the NFL, but against the Giants expect him to struggle like most QBs in recent weeks. Backing McAdoo’s men to triumph in their clash on the road at Lincoln Financial Field at -148 on the money line makes a lot of sense with sportsbook BetOnline.
The Giants have won the Super Bowl twice in the past 10 years, memorably defeating the New England Patriots on both occasions, including their huge upset to deny Bill Belichick’s men a perfect 19-0 campaign in the 2007 season. In those years the club peaked at just the right time in readiness for the post-season and this term looks have some of the same characteristics, including the mastermind of their Super Bowl 42 triumph – defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
The 57-year-old has got the 2016 Giants playing extremely well on the defensive side of the ball, with previously mentioned Collins and Jenkins starring in the secondary – both earning places in the Pro Bowl. Jenkins produced arguably one of the finest performances by a cornerback this season by nullifying the threat of Dez Bryant in his side’s win over the Cowboys. Should he continue that level of form against the best wideouts in the NFL, and Collins’ continues his playmaking ability – the club have a solid chance at reaching the Super Bowl.
One limiting factor on the Giants’ push for their third Vince Lombardi trophy over the past 10 years could be their struggles on offense. Running back Shane Vereen has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a triceps injury, leaving them short of options in the backfield and putting huge pressure on veteran Rashad Jennings to carry the load.
Beckham Jr has continued his excellent form with his third 1,000-yard season on the bounce, but he cannot do it alone with Manning pulling the strings at quarterback. Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz have ability in abundance, especially the former who has had a fine rookie season, but both will have to raise the level of their games for the Giants to achieve their ultimate goal.
However, New York should have more than enough to see off the threat of the Eagles and put huge pressure on Dallas for their final two matches of the season, with the club backed at +1400 to win the NFC East ahead of their rivals with BetOnline.
At the start of the season the Eagles were looking capable of mounting a charge for the playoffs, winning their opening three matches, with Wentz starring at quarterback in the infancy of his NFL career. Unfortunately for the club their bye week came at the wrong time just when they were playing extremely well, and since then they’ve won only two matches and lost their last five matches on the spin to leave them out of the playoffs for the third year on the bounce.
Their defense was extremely impressive at the start of the campaign, but has fallen off significantly allowing 25 points and over in their five-match losing run. The club have issues in their secondary beyond the talent of safeties Rodney McLeod and Malcolm Jenkins, with their cornerbacks struggling to maintain their coverage. Their defensive line and linebackers have a great deal of pedigree and are a solid unit to base their team around for the seasons to come, with players such as Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham entering the prime years of their career.
On offense Wentz’s struggles in the second half of the season are not all down to him hitting the rookie wall. The Eagles lack playmakers at wide receiver as former first-round pick Nelson Agholor along with Jordan Matthews and Dorial Green-Beckham have all failed to support their quarterback, and the club will need to be active in free agency and the draft to address those issues. Should Wentz be the player that he was in the first three games of the term then Philadelphia have a good shot of being competitive for the years to come.
The Giants have an overwhelming advantage here as the Eagles will be counting down the games until the end of the campaign. Although Doug Pederson’s men were competitive against the Baltimore Ravens last time out their desire not to play overtime resulted in a two-point conversion late in the game which they failed to score.
New York are hungry for the win and have the talent in the right areas of their team to expose the Eagles’ deficiencies, especially at cornerback. Anticipate a big game for Beckham Jr at Lincoln Financial Field in a victory for the visitors.
New York Giants to beat Philadelphia Eagles
Thursday 22nd December 20:35 ET (Friday 23rd December 01:25 GMT)
New York Giants to win NFC East