Thursday Night Football this week really is a great matchup. Who doesn’t love a sweeping statement to start an article? But I think it would be hard to argue against this matchup – here we have a divisional matchup in a wide-open division that both teams need to win. Then consider the players on display – Carson Wentz, Odell Beckham Jr. and the second overall pick Saquon Barkley. And the dynamics – the Eagles fresh off their first Super Bowl win with a taste for more, the Giants who have four Super Bowl wins with the last coming in 2012.
I would argue that, at this stage of the season, no division is more open than the NFC East – Redskins are 2-2, Cowboys 2-3, Eagles 2-3, and Giants 1-4. Jay Gruden’s Washington team were looking fairly strong before MNF this week – in their last game before a bye week they handily beat the Packers – but they didn’t seem to click in any area of the game against the Saints. The Cowboys are really struggling on offense – Zeke is great but with Dez Bryant and Jason Witten gone, Dak has no one to throw to. With the exception of the Week 5 match against the Panthers, the Giants have been the most boring team in the NFL so far this season – a statement that is all the more alarming when one considers that this team includes two of the most exciting players in the league in OBJ and Saquin Barkley. Watching the Eagles this season it is hard to believe that this team won the last Super Bowl in superb style against the five-time champion New England Patriots. And they did it, for the most part, without their franchise QB after he suffered a season-ending torn ACL in Week 14.
All that said, it’s clear that both teams need to win this game and find some form. But how they get there is not quite clear. It certainly looks like Eli Manning is well past his prime – he is not reliably delivering the ball downfield to his weapons, instead focussing on shallow passes for little/no gain. It’s clear that it’s not just fans getting frustrated, with OBJ becoming something of a tabloid headline writer’s dream as he frequently throws shade at various parts of the Giants team. There will be those that argue that with their no. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft New York should’ve taken Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen or Josh Allen, a sentiment I have to agree with. Whilst Saquon Barkley is undeniably a truly great talent, this is a Quarterback league and the Giants had a wealth of QB talent to pick from in that draft to potentially replace Manning at some stage. I think it’s unlikely that the Giants will make the playoffs all the time they continue to lead with Eli Manning. Which is not to take away from all that he has achieved in his career but merely to suggest it’s, perhaps, time to move on.
Is it even possible to win a Super Bowl in this era with a second-rate QB? Well after the Eagles’ Super Bowl LII win over Brady, Belichick, and the Pats, there’s plenty of people that would say it’s definitely possible. When Carson Wentz left the field during last year’s Week 14 game against the Rams, no one thought that the Eagles with Nick Foles would have a chance of getting to, let alone winning, the Super Bowl. To his credit, he proved everyone wrong and played mostly well as the Eagles won their first Super Bowl. That said, the Eagles are definitely glad to have Wentz back as they attempt to make it two years running. That might be easier said than done as they appear to have lost running back Jay Ajayi for the season and LeGarrette Blount left for the Lions at the end of last season. They have so far seemed unable to recapture their dominant form from last year with a string of disappointing games, most notably a Week 4 loss to the Titans.
What is clear to all though is that season has not disappointed with tons of great match-ups every week thus far and that looks set to continue this week starting with Eagles vs. Giants on Thursday Night Football. The game will be available to watch on FOX, NFL Network and Amazon Prime.