The Giants (0-4) and Eagles (1-3) renew an old rivalry on Sunday, but with a touch of change, as this will be new Eagles head coach Chip Kelly’s indoctrination into the Turnpike tilt.
Kelly will bring his new-fangled uptempo spread offense to MetLife Stadium, hoping to cause as much havoc as they’ve done to opponents so far this season.
But no matter the backdrops, the main storyline is two proud franchises who are struggling to break their losing streaks.
Giants wideout Victor Cruz said he doesn’t care how the Giants win, as long as they do it.
“This game’s always intense. Us against Philly is always intense, no matter what the records are, no matter how each team is playing,” said Cruz. “It’s an important game for us no matter what. This game is important in the division. We have to get this victory by any means necessary.”
Three things to watch for ...
1. Can Big Blue’s defense catch their breath?
No matter how indignant Giants defensive end Justin Tuck thought the question was, the fact is the Giants have had trouble getting off the field. The Eagles’ uptempo offense thrives on keeping defenses on the field longer than they want, and in turn tiring out defenders, particularly defensive linemen. When asked if he felt it’d be best to try and have a rotating defensive line to keep the unit fresh, Tuck had a terse reply: "Don't ask me that question. I take offense to that."
Regardless of pride, it’d be wise for the Giants to have a rotation – providing the Eagles allow it – lest the defensive captain and his unit will have their collective feelings hurt as they watch a lot of green and white jerseys zoom past them.
2. Can the Giants get their offense back on track?
New York averages a puny 15.2 points per game (30th in the league), which won’t cut it against a Philadelphia team that wants to engage in a winner-has-the-ball-last shootout. The Eagles average 24.8 points per game (12th overall in the league). But Giants quarterback Eli Manning has had rousing success against the Eagles lately, especially at home where he’s thrown 13 touchdowns and just two interceptions in his last four home games. Manning’s favorite target, Cruz, has clipped Philadelphia’s secondary basically every chance he’s had and fondly remembers the Eagles as the team he got his big break against a couple of seasons ago. He’ll likely have a big game again, but can the Giants be more than a one-dimensional passing unit? If fellow starting wideout Hakeem Nicks returns to form and running back David Wilson finally flashes his skill set, Big Blue may actually be able to match Philadelphia yard for yard.
3. What’s the difference?
These are two teams who are very similar in their struggles, as both have shown they can start respectable, but fade as the game wanes. The Eagles were right with the Broncos (4-0) last week until halftime, 21-13, before wilting in the second half and eventually getting hammered, 52-20. And save for the 38-0 blanking by Carolina in Week 3, the Giants have been in most games until at least midway into the third quarter. The Eagles own a minus-39 point differential, which computes to 9.8 points per game. The Giants’ point differential stands at a staggering minus-85 points -- an average of 21.2 points per game which is next-to-last in the league. If the numbers don’t lie, it means one of these teams will need to show some mettle in the second half and pull away. The only question is which team will it be?
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.