The NFC East has become the NFC Least for many this season and Thursday night sees two of its resident disappointments face-off with first-place in the division at stake, somehow, writes Mark Kirwan...
"There's isn't space to list all the players they've lost this year, but their offence last Sunday featured just two players - Wentz and his center, Jason Kelce - who were expected to start the 2020 season."
New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles
Live on Sky Sports NFL
Eagles winging it
The winner of this week's Thursday night clash can leap to the top of the NFC East. There's nothing remarkable about that, except that we're heading into Week 7 of the season and these two teams can only boast a pair of wins between them.
That the Eagles have struggled to put together a better record is the bigger surprise of the two, especially they're led by Carson Wentz, a quarterback of undoubted top-ten talent but with a knack for picking up injuries.
He has a Super Bowl ring from the Eagles' Philly Special over the Pats, but it wasn't the Nebraska product sneaking into the New England endzone to catch Trey Burton's pass in Super Bowl LII. That was Nick Foles, and the rest is history.
It's starting to feel like events will conspire to never see the 27-year-old repeat the play of those opening months of that glorious 2018 campaign.
Last season, Philadelphia were rocked by a string of injuries across offence and defence that undermined their legitimate Super Bowl ambitions, and 2020 looks like a worse version of that run.
There's isn't space to list all the players they've lost this year, but their offence last Sunday featured just two players - Wentz and his center, Jason Kelce - who were expected to start the 2020 season.
The Eagles' offensive depth chart heading into the season and who was left by the end of Sunday's game.? Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) October 19, 2020
I missed an injury to Jack Driscoll the first time I posted this - they're even more banged up than I thought pic.twitter.com/zNS1HYRQx6
Travis Fulgham has become the passer's go-to guy in the last fortnight. Greg Ward, 25, is the seasoned campaigner of those pass-catchers still standing in Philly, with Desean Jackson, Alshon Jeffrey and Zach Ertz all missing significant time so far.
Along the offensive line, the rate of attrition has been similar. Calais Campbell ran amok in the Eagles' backfield last week, and Wentz has had to return to scrambling for yards as their patchwork line has struggled to cope.
For all that, the Eagles have played both the Steelers and Ravens close in recent weeks. If their defensive line can continue to pressure opponents and they can get healthier on offence, there is reason to believe they can improve on their embarrassing 1-4-1 record and take an NFC East that has become the weakest division in the league.
The Giants are Exhibit A in making the case for the NFC Least nickname.
Perennially poor on defence, it's average play has been the one bright spot in recent weeks as they struggle to make Daniel Jones into a top NFL quarterback.
The third-year passer wasn't supposed to be the fulcrum of the offence. That was Saquon Barkley's role, but his knee gave way in Week 2 and with it went the G-men's hopes of making any kind of up-start run this year.
That was always a long shot anyway. Jones' inability to protect the ball is well-established - he has 14 fumbles lost and 18 interceptions in 19 career games - but lumbering him with Jason Garrett as offensive coordinator looks to have taken any spark out of his play.
Only Darius Slayton, carrying an ankle injury now, has caught a TD pass from the QB this season. The Giants as an offence have only scored six so far this season.
They ground out a win last week over Washington, coach Joe Judge's first, but there was a fair degree of good fortune in that against a pretty poor team. If they play to a similar level here, the Eagles ought to do enough to win comfortably.
Thursday night means a quick turnaround, and you can't help but worry about the Eagles with so many questions about their team, but I don't see the Giants posting many points here while Philadelphia have somehow put up decent scores on both the Steelers and Ravens' strong defensive fronts in the last two weeks despite the turnover on their starting line-up.
There's a chance break-out tight end Dallas Goedert returns on Thursday, Desean Jackson could be back too, as could Lane Johnson on the O-line. Miles Sanders is out, meaning Boston Scott should see more touches in the backfield.
It shouldn't matter too much given the alchemy Wentz has been performing in recent weeks. I would take the Eagles to cover 4.5 on the Exchange at 1.991/1.
If you'd prefer a bit more, I'd also suggest taking them to win by 14+ points in the Winning Margin market, as this Giants team is truly terrible. They're priced around 3.613/5 for the blowout.
I would look at Carson Wentz to score with his feet in this game. He ran one in against Baltimore and is looking more of a threat on the ground recently as he's being forced to run by opposing defences. He's priced 12/1 to score First and 9/2 Anytime.
1pt on the Eagles -4.5 on the Handicap @ 1.991/1 on the Exchange
1pt on the Eagles 14+ on the Winning Margin market @ 3.613/5 on the Sportsbook
0.5pts on Carson Wentz First Touchdown Scorer on the Sportsbook @ 12/1
1pt on Caron Wentz Anytime Touchdown Scorer @ 9/2 on the Sportsbook