There's a legitimate argument to be made that the Giants have quietly been one of the best teams in football this season. They're eighth in the league in team DVOA, seventh in points per game, seventh in offensive efficiency, second in run defense, eighth in turnover differential and roughly 81 seconds away from being undefeated.
Instead, Big Blue is 3-2 and has a surprising lead in the NFC East. With a couple of superstars injured in Dallas, Chip Kelly's mad science experiment got off to a rough start in Philly, and Washington, well, just being Washington, the Giants have a chance to take firm control of the division in the coming weeks. If they can get past the Eagles on Monday night, their next three games are against the Romo-less Cowboys, the 1-4 Saints and the 2-3 Buccaneers. The Giants don't play a team that currently has a winning record until the Pats come to town in Week 10.
But getting past the Eagles doesn't as sound as it did before last Sunday. Yes, the injuries have been rough. Yes, DeMarco Murray is still struggling. And yes, Sam Bradford has been up and down. But in a 39-17 beatdown of the Saints in Philly, the Birds finally looked like the team Kelly had in mind when he was making all of those offseason moves. The receiving corps is physical and athletic, the defensive front has been at times unblockable and efficient play from Ryan Mathews has helped offset Murray's disappointing start.
42: That's the number of completions Eli Manning had in last week's comeback win over the 49ers, a career record in what was arguably the best regular-season performance of his 12 NFL years. The most impressive thing about that stat is that it proves that the Giants have complete confidence in him (Eli's 54 attempts were also a career high). Manning has 10 touchdowns to just two picks so far (though he needed a replay review to overturn what would have been a game-ender against San Fran) and has had much-improved line play in front of him (he wasn't sacked once in 55 dropbacks on Monday). For as solid as Philly's defense has been, it is ranked 26th in passing yards allowed, which could mean another big day for Eli.
36.84: That's the percentage of red zone trips on which the Giants actually find the end zone. Trips inside the 20-yard line have been an adventure for New York all season, including a three-for-six night on Monday. Eli's 100.2 passer rating drops to 80 inside the 20. An ugly first-half end zone pick against the Niners was a big reason he needed to engineer a comeback drive in the first place. Philly, meanwhile, is allowing opponents to score six on fewer than 47 percent of trips into the red zone, good for eighth in the NFL.
Who to Watch
Ryan Mathews: DeMarco Murray is clamoring for more carries, but it's hard to see that happening if he keeps up his 2.7 yards per carry average. Mathews, meanwhile is picking up 5.0 yards per carry and has outgained his highly-paid running mate by 75 yards despite having eight fewer carries. Throw in Darren Sproles (4.1 YPC) and Murray has been the third-most explosive back on his team this season. That said, don't expect huge games from any of them against a Giants D that is allowing a league-leading 3.5 yards per tote.
Shane Vereen: Speaking of productive running backs, Vereen has added an entirely new dimension to this Giants offense with his pass-catching ability. He beat a linebacker on an out route to score the first touchdown on Monday, then caught three first downs on the game-winning drive. With Eli's outside receivers banged up, he'll be a critical safety valve against the Eagles' aggressive defense.
How to Watch
When: 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia
Announcers: Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden
Although there's not a consensus among the experts, the Eagles are a slight favorite over their NFC East rivals. The panel at CBS Sports likes Philly by a 5-3 margin while the ESPN crew is also leaning toward the home team. Here at SB Nation, six of our eight experts are siding with the Eagles.
The Eagles opened as 3.5-point favorites, according to OddsShark.com.
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