Giants, Eagles vie for No. 2 in NFC East

Three weeks ago, the New York Giants’ season was in a nosedive as Big Blue had lost three in a row.

Fast forward to this Sunday’s matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium and the G-Men, fresh off their bye following two straight wins, can assert themselves as a team to watch in the second half. The winner of this Week 9 matchup moves to 5-3 and could begin to look like an NFC wild-card contender.

Read on for three keys to Sunday’s matchup of bitter NFC East rivals.

Olivier overdue

Prized free-agent acquisition Olivier Vernon was signed by the Giants to bring down opposing quarterbacks. He’s not holding up his end of the bargain.

The defensive end has just one sack through seven games after 25.5 over his last three seasons with the Miami Dolphins. It’s part of the reason the Giants rank 31st in sacks.

The Eagles have protected Carson Wentz relatively well, but it’s past time for Vernon to make his presence felt.

Third down woes

Both the Giants and Eagles rank in the bottom five in third-down conversion percentage. That’s good news and bad news for Big Blue, who may not need to be much better than usual on third downs to separate themselves from Philly.

Establishing the run – something the Giants have failed to do time and again this season – is critical to taking the pressure off quarterback Eli Manning to convert, especially in short-yardage situations.

On the flip side, the Giants’ defense must imrove its play on third down after allowing a 43.2% conversion rate through seven games.

Phlagging Philly

The Eagles are one of seven teams whove been flagged for 60-plus penalties this season, far more than the more disciplined Giants (42).

Penalties are especially costly in tight matchups such as the ones in which the Giants and Eagles often find themselves. If the patterns continue, the edge in penalty yards could be all the Giants need to get past the dangerous Eagles and take firm control of second place in the division.


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