PHILADELPHIA - The New York Giants are on the brink when it comes to completely falling out of the NFC playoff picture and the Eagles hope to push Joe Judge and his team off the edge.
The 3-7 Giants are coming off such a poor performance against Tampa Bay that Judge, a Philadelphia native, decided to pull the plug on offensive coordinator Jason Garrett despite this being a short week that also included the Thanksgiving holiday for his team.
Former Cleveland coach Freddie Kitchens, who had been a senior offensive assistant for Judge, take over as OC, but whether or not he will call the plays, Judge isn't saying.
Despite his pedigree of being the No. 6 overall pick in the 2019 draft, Daniel Jones isn't the type of quarterback that has given the Eagles first this season, namely Dak Prescott, Patrick Mahomes, Derek Carr, Tom Brady, and Justin Herbert.
Don't expect much to change when it comes to the verbiage or the scheme of the Giants' offense because there is simply not enough time to make wholesale changes but there may be a tweak or two.
"I've said this before in here, it's a different play-caller," Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said. "There's going to be different looks. There's going to be different things that he does, that Coach Garrett didn't do, or vice versa. We just got to be ready for everything. So, when you don't know exactly what you're going to get, you got to play your rules and you got to play your rules on each individual defense that you get."
The 5-6 Eagles have dominated the Giants in recent seasons, winning 20 of the last 25 (.800) in the series and 10 of the last 13 up the Jersey Turnpike at the Meadowlands complex.
JUDGE AND JURY
Judge balked at the suggestion that he was scapegoating Garrett but there is little question he and GM Dave Gettleman are on the hot seat for an organization seemingly en route to a fifth consecutive double-digit losing season.
Judge himself is 9-17 over his first 26 games as the mentor in New York and fired his offensive line coach in-season in 2020 and has now has felt the need to fire his OC this time around.
From the outside looking in, it looks like a desperate franchise in a bit of disarray.
"I don’t think there’s ever an ideal time to make a move like this in-season, but, to me, it’s whenever it’s necessary to make the move, you go ahead and make it," Judge said. "Going into the bye week we were coming together as a team in all three phases. There was some progress being made, but ultimately, we need to be more productive as an offense.
"I tell the team all the time I’m not afraid to make moves whenever necessary to put our team in a position to be successful."
In trying to picture ways the Eagles could lose to the Giants, the easiest involves the Giants scratching and clawing to keep the game close and handing it to veteran kicker Graham Gano, who has been lights out from 40-plus this season.
Overall, Gano has made 90.0 percent (9-for-10) of field goals from at least 40 yards in 2021, which is the second-highest percentage in the NFL.
Expecting Gano to miss in a big situation late is probably not the scenario Philadelphia wants to be in.
Outside his vaunted running ability, the most impressive part of Jalen Hurts' game this season has been his ball security.
Through 11 games, the Eagles' QB1 had turned it over just six times - five interceptions and one fumble.
Conversely, Adoree’ Jackson’s second-quarter interception at Tampa Bay in Week 11 resulted in the Giants recording a takeaway in each of the first 10 games of a season for the first time since 2011.
The Giants have intercepted opposing quarterbacks in seven straight games, which is their longest streak since 2011 (Weeks 3-11) when they did so in eight consecutive games. Hurts, meanwhile, has thrown just one INT in his last five games so something has to give.
The Giants have some playmakers on the back end, starting with an excellent zone coverage corner in James Bradberry and athletic safety Xavier McKinney. Veteran safety Logan Ryan is expected to miss the game on the COVID-19 list, however.
"You just got to do your part, do your job. Whatever the assignment is on that play, make sure you’re aware of the pass," Bradberry said when asked about playing against Hurts. "I’m a cornerback, so I play pass first most of the time. Then, I come back and help in the run, so you’ve got to be ready when your name is called. Whenever the receiver cracks, you’ve got to make sure you come up there and make a tackle, but you’ve got to always be aware of the pass."
THE BIG CAT
He's not quite Ernie Ladd, the original "Big Cat," who was an AFL star in the 1960s but New York defensive lineman Leonard Williams is probably the most talented defender Patrick Graham will be throwing at the Eagles.
Williams' 40 quarterback hits since the start of 2020 season are tied for the fourth-most among all defensive linemen and the company he keeps in the category - Myles Garrett, Aaron Donald, and Joey Bosa - is a pretty impressive group.
If you were to boil down Jonathan Gannon's defensive philosophy to one thing, it would be limiting explosive passing plays and the Eagles have, by and large, accomplished that, allowing only 26 pass plays of 20-or-more yards this season, which ranks No. 3 in NFL.
Conversely, the Giants have only amassed 25 pass plays of 20-or-more yards offensively, second-worst in the league.
Should be advantage Eagles there even with the change on offense from Garrett to Kitchens.
"I think it’ll be our system and our verbiage. I think there will be different aspects to it, but we’ll go through the week, find what works, what we like going into Sunday," Judge said. "We’ll see how that progresses."
John McMullen (9-2, 7-4 vs. the spread): Everything has been coming up Eagles recently with both Denver and New Orleans extremely banged up. This week it's back into the NFC East and the dysfunction of the Giants, who decided to go the scapegoat route with Garrett. What that accomplishes on a short week is anyone's guess but the move to Kitchens will not change anything without improved offensive line play by the Giants.
Defensively, New York has been playing too much zone in general but that should actually help against Hurts because the Eagles' second-year QB can gash you in the run if you turn your back as a defender. Whether Philadelphia can sustain its recent running game remains to be seen but Sirianni's offense will deliver enough explosive plays to make sure the Giants can't match it.
EAGLES 27, GIANTS 18
Ed Kracz (6-5, 6-5 vs. the spread) There are some things I don't like about this game for the Eagles, with RB Jordan Howard and LB Davion Taylor out with knee injuries, and the Giants having been put on notice with the firing of their OC. New York is not a terrible football team.
What I do like is that the Eagles are on the road, where they are 4-2 this season, their offensive line has been dominant, and Jalen Hurts has grown more comfortable in the offense.
EAGLES 24, GIANTS 17
-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.