New York Giants (10-4 SU, 8-5-1 ATS) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (5-9 SU, 6-8 ATS)
NFL Week 16
Date/Time: Thursday, December 22, 2016 at 8:25PM EST
Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
by Scott, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NYG -2.5/PHI +2.5
Over/Under Total: 41.5
On Thursday Night Football in week 16, the New York Giants come into Lincoln Financial Field to take on the Philadelphia Eagles. This is an important NFC East battle, not so much for the spiraling Eagles, but definitely for the 10-win Giants. On Sunday, New York beat a solid Detroit team, 17-6. They are solidly in the wild card picture, though their chances of overtaking Dallas in the division are dim. Philly is in bad shape with 5 straight losses and 9 in their last 11 games. Their 3-0 start to the season offered hope, but not much has gone right since. They showed a little life, however, on Sunday with a 28-27 loss to the Ravens.
As divisional rivals, these NFC East teams have already played this season. On November 6, the Giants beat the Eagles in East Rutherford, 28-23. The Giants held the lead the entire game, though they were unable to create much separation. Manning was big on the day with 4 TD passes, but Philadelphia rookie QB Carson Wentz threw for 364 yards and had this offense on the move, especially late in the game. Each quarterback threw two picks in the game. A lot has changed since their early-November matchup. But the Eagles had already started to falter by the time their first game happened and were still competitive.
Philly opened the season at 3-0, went into a week four bye, and has not been the same since. Nine losses in 11 wins has them on the outside looking in, just trying to salvage something before the season ends. Both sides of the ball have deteriorated. The defense, which was awesome to begin the season, has faltered; while an offense led by a rookie quarterback often times struggles to stay afloat. But after covering just two spreads in their last 11 games, the cover and close loss to Baltimore offered some hope that they can at least play the spoiler role to some good affect. On Sunday, a Carson Wentz TD run put the Eagles within a point of a win, before a failed two-point conversion led to the painful one-point loss.
The Philadelphia offense is a pretty uninspiring group. Wentz is a raw rookie from an FCS program; so naturally, his trajectory has not been exclusively upward. He works with an inconsistent run game, led by Ryan Mathews, who did have a big game on Sunday with 128 yards and a score. Tight end Zach Ertz has been putting together some big games lately, but the aerial attack has been less-than-exciting. Darren Sproles continues to be productive. But the receiver crew has underachieved, with Jordan Matthews, Dorial Green-Beckham, and Nelson Agholor not really able to string together much consistency. The line has been deteriorating and they’re not getting the most of what they have for the most part. Since their gravy-period of the first three weeks, they haven’t surpassed 27 points of scoring.
In the first three games of the season, the Philly defense offered a glimpse to a potentially-special group. And while they’re not a group that gets embarrassed, they were far from special since then. They are consistent, without being really good. In 7 of their last 11 games, they’ve allowed 24-28 points. They’re still making plays, with a pass-rush that delivers on occasion, in addition to securing 24 turnovers. They’ve held it together in somewhat decent form, considering how off the tracks the 2016 season got for the Eagles.
We had grown accustomed in the last several years of a New York Giants’ team that relied on their offense, while hoping they didn’t get betrayed by the other side of the ball. This is a different Giants’ team, as evidenced by the games they’re winning this season, such as their 17-6 win over Detroit on Sunday. After two straight 6-10 seasons, the Giants have ridden their “D” to a 10-4 mark. And it looks like that side of the ball is getting better after they allowed almost nothing to the Cowboys and Lions in consecutive games. Only one of their last six opponents has surpassed 20 points. Eli Manning operates a more-conservative offense, but it’s working. And he does have almost 3500 yards through the air, so they’re not all that flat—just not very prolific.
Manning threw a pair of TD passes on Sunday, one each to Odell Beckham, Jr. and rookie Sterling Shepard. Beckham, Jr.’s TD was another in a long line of memorable catches made this season by one of the more game-changing receivers in the league. Both he and Shepard thrived in the first game against Philly and look to do so again this Thursday. They continue to try to forge a running game and though Paul Perkins and Rashad Jennings have been relatively quiet, there are signs of life. Until it does, they continue to work with a subdued offense that averages less than 20 points per game.
There was something very thoughtful about how the Giants’ got this defense on the right track. Normally when a team tries to conduct an overhaul by signing a bunch of players, it doesn’t take hold like one would suspect. But through the draft and in free agency, the Giants got a lot of good pieces and they all have helped make this defense one of the best in the conference. Since September, the Giants have not allowed in excess of 24 points. No team has even put up 30 against this group this whole season, a stark change from what we’re used to seeing. They are third in the league in points allowed and their defense has balance, with a front that rushes the passer and plugs the run and a secondary that can make plays, despite being leaky on occasion. They did, after all, yield a season-high for Carson Wentz in yardage in their first game, though the two picks underlines their playmaking ability.
A lot has changed since their first meeting of the season. The Eagles are now completely without hope, though they showed life on Sunday. The urgency is a lot higher for a Giants’ team that has their sights set on the playoffs. With double-digit wins, they are likely to pull a wild card slot and catching Dallas seems highly unlikely, as they need to win out and have Dallas drop their last two to win the division. This game has the earmarks of a difficult game for both teams where having the points will be a good feeling. I’m taking the home dog.
Scott's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Philadelphia Eagles plus 2.5 points.
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