Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants (27-17 Giants)
Mike The Ace @TheAceWriter
The NFC East has been an absolute dumpster fire this season. It seems like every other team in the league has taken the opportunity to beat up on one of the four teams from this division. It’s hard to believe that one of the teams from the NFC Least will actually be hosting a home playoff game this year.
Heading into this game, the Philadelphia Eagles had a division leading record of 3-4-1. Looking at the rest of their schedule, this game was definitely one that you could define as a “must win”. If they were going to take control of this strange opportunity, it was going to start against the Giants this week.
On the other hand, New York is a young team that came into the game feeling optimistic. They held a 2-7 record, but played tight games against a lot of good teams. Head coach Joe Judge seems to be connecting well with his players, and it seems the culture reset in the Giants’ locker room has been successful.
From the opening snap, the Giants played like the hungrier team. They marched right down the field and scored on an 8-play, 85 yard drive. A key moment on that drive was a 3rd & 8 from the Eagles’ 43-yard line. Instead of forcing the Giants to convert a 3rd & long, the Eagles committed a defensive offside penalty. The penalty changed the situation to 3rd & 3 from the 38-yard line, a much easier conversation for the offense. The Giants would go on to convert the 3rd down with a nice play call, and then score on the following play. That defensive series was not a playoff worthy effort from Philadelphia.
Offensively, Carson Wentz continued to struggle for the Eagles. He finished the game 21 of 37 for 208 yards. Surprisingly, Wentz did not turn the ball over at all, but he also did not throw or run for any touchdowns. Wentz was also sacked 3 times in this game.
Another key development is that the Giants were able to take away the Eagles’ breakout wide receiver, Travis Fulgham. Fulgham had been one of the most productive players in the league since he started getting playing time in week 5 of this year. In this game, Fulgham had just 1 catch for 8 yards.
The quiet performance for Fulgham, as well as the other poor offensive performances, is an indictment on head coach Doug Pederson. The Giants often had safety help to bracket Fulgham in coverage, and there was simply no creativity to scheme him open. The same can be said for the entire offense, as the Eagles leading pass catcher in this game was third-string tight end, Richard Rodgers. Rodgers had 4 catches for 60 yards.
It is officially panic time in Philly. The remaining Eagles schedule consists of the Browns, Seahawks, Packers, Saints, and Cardinals. I’ve watched all of those teams this season, and they are all head and shoulders better than the Eagles. The playoffs don’t look likely for the city of brotherly love, in 2020.
Buffalo Bills @ Arizona Cardinals (32-30 Cardinals)
In what was one of if not the best games of the year, the Cardinals took care of the Bills. It took last second heave to Deandre Hopkins for the game winner. The two MVP hopefuls at quarterback squared off in an offensive and defensive showcase.
Josh Allen made a valiant effort to play his best, and it just was not good enough. Allen went 32-49 for 284 yards, with 2 TDs, and 2 interceptions. He didn’t get much help in the run game, with Zach Moss and Devin Singletary going for 20 and 15 yards respectively. I don’t really think the Bills want Josh Allen throwing the ball almost 50 times in a game. The main goal for this offense should be getting the run game going, then use the play action to get the ball to the speedsters like Brown, Beasley, and Diggs. The Bills’ defense was also not as good as they normally are. Outside of allowing the Hail “Murray”, they were giving up way too many yards in the run game. They gave up over 200 yards rushing. After looking at the film, I saw most of the Cardinals’ runners not getting touched until they got to the linebackers and safeties. This will need to get addressed immediately if they want to make a real chance at making the playoffs. A key element to playoff football is the weather. The colder it gets, the harder it is to throw the ball. If you can stop the run, you will have to depend on Josh Allen’s arm to bring you back in games. That isn’t a bad bet at this point in Allen’s career.
Kyler Murray had a great game on the other side as well. Murray went 22-32 for 245 yards with a TD and interception. He also added 11 carries for 61 yards and 2 TDs on the ground. Kyler was able to use his mobility to his advantage, yet again, with the Run Pass Option. Kenyan Drake added 16 carries for 100 yards. He and Murray on the RPOs are getting insanely good. I really love these plays, because it allows Drake to step into the main role. It’s almost surprising when Murray pulls the ball, and has a clear lane running past the crashing defensive end. Deandre Hopkins also had an excellent game, having 7 catches for 127 yards and a TD. He made the catch of the year on the last play of the game, for the win. Kylee Murray was flushed and was forced to throw a 43 yard Hail “Murray” into triple coverage, and Hopkins came down with the catch.
The Bills and Cardinals are among the two best dark horse teams amongst their respective conferences. Allen still needs to work on cutting down mistakes in the pass game, while the offense needs to support him in the run game. The Cards’ still look like the real deal, and need to make a playoff push. They are currently third in their division at the moment, behind the LA Rams and Seattle Seahawks. Even though the Cardinals won the game, both teams showed they have the offenses to keep up with the likes of the Kansas City Chiefs.