NFC East foes tangle on Monday night when the New York Giants (3-2) visit the Philadelphia Eagles (2-3) at Lincoln Financial Field on Monday night. The Giants find themselves in a familiar position, heading into Philly and riding a three-game winning streak after two losses to open the season. Last season, Tom Coughlin's squad fell 27-0 to the Eagles, and would go on to lose their next six games to miss the playoffs for the third consecutive season.
Monday's matchup could go a long way in determining a playoff spot down the road. Injuries and inconsistency throughout the division haven’t allowed an NFC East team to dominate. The Giants have played two games in the division so far, winning one against the Washington Redskins and losing on the road against the Dallas Cowboys in the season opener. Philadelphia has lost both divisional games with defeats to the Cowboys and Redskins.
Here are three things to watch for on Monday night.
Can Sam Bradford Limit His Turnovers?
Much has been made of Bradford’s penchant for giving the ball away. In his first season with the Eagles, Bradford already has six interceptions and one lost fumble, most which came in the first two games. In the three games since, Bradford has been more reliable. He’s thrown just two interceptions while throwing for six touchdowns.
Last week, Bradford carved up a porous Saints secondary, completing 71 percent of his passes for 333 yards in a 39-17 victory. New York has five interceptions this season, but are battling injuries. With cornerback Prince Amukamara (torn pectoral), and linebacker Devon Kennard (hamstring) out, and four other defensive players listed as questionable, Bradford may have an easier time finding his receivers.
Pressure On DeMarco Murray To Have A Big Game
The issues on the Eagles offense can’t all be attributed to Bradford. Murray was guaranteed $18 million coming off a 1,845-yard season with the Cowboys in 2014, but things have yet to pan out in Philadelphia. After rushing for just 11 total yards over the first two weeks, Murray sat out Week 3 as Ryan Mathews took the reins for a win over the New York Jets. Mathews, having been the far more effective runner so far, leads the team in yards with less carries than Murray.
In the two games since his return, Murray has rushed for 119 total yards on 28 carries and a score but still averages just 2.7 yards per carry. Against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, Murray burst out with 120 total yards, but more is expected from Murray after 12 games of at least 100 rushing yards in 2014, and four games of at least 40 receiving yards. The Eagles offense needs more production on the ground, ranking in the bottom third of the NFL in rushing.
Eli Manning's Options Are Limited
The Giants entered the 2015 season with Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz expected to be one of the best wide-receiver combinations in the league. But Cruz’s calf has yet to fully heal, forcing him to sit out every game. Beckham, who has played in all five games, is listed as questionable with hamstring problems, but there is optimism that he will play. Rueben Randle, is also nursing a hamstring injury, but is listed as probable. Manning may have to throw more to Dwayne Harris, who has 11 receptions this season.
Without his top targets in good health, it will be up Manning and the offensive line to limit their mistakes. Philadelphia could stack the box to stifle the run game and make things very difficult for a banged-up Giants offense.