BY TOM CANAVAN
Daniel Jones and the 4-11 New York Giants are the only thing standing between the Philadelphia Eagles and the NFC Eastern Division Title.
Despite a season marked by injuries to key players and inconsistency, the Eagles have a shot at not only making the playoffs. The 8-7 Eagles can wrap it up by beating the Giants on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Philadelphia is riding a season-high three-game winning streak coming into the regular-season finale. Beating the Giants has been the norm lately. Doug Pederson’s team has won six straight times and 10 of 11 against New York.
“Things didn’t look too good for us obviously just a few weeks ago, but our guys have battled, put ourselves in this position,” Pederson said. “For us, it’s just a matter of trying to go 1-0 like everybody does in these games. We’ve got to have a good week of preparation, and if we do the things that we’re capable of doing and take care of the football and all that, then hopefully we can become the champs.”
The problem is the Giants have played well lately, winning their last two, albeit against weaklings Miami and Washington. New York also build leads of 19-3 and 17-3, respectively, in their last two games with Philadelphia, only to see the Eagles rally. The 23-17 overtime loss in Philadelphia stung big time.
“We want to play spoiler,” veteran safety Antoine Bethea said. “We are not going to the playoffs so we definitely want to get this W and knock them out. We don’t want anyone celebrating on our field.”
Some things to watch Sunday:
After struggling with an ankle injury most of the season, Giants running back Saquon Barkley is back. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 draft has two straight 100-yard games, including a career-best 189 yards rushing last week. He finished with a franchise-record 279 yards from scrimmage.
The Eagles have the No. 3 ranked run defense (88 yards average). They limited Barkley 66 yards on 17 carries on Dec. 9. Last season, Barkley ran for 100 yards in each of the two games against them and had touchdown runs of 50 and 51 yards.
Jones-ing for a upset
The Eagles are going to see something new: Rookie Daniel Jones is starting at quarterback for New York. Eli Manning had been the Giants’ only starter against them since the teams’ second meeting of the 2004 season. Jones missed the 23-17 overtime loss earlier this month with a sprained ankle, so Manning played.
Jones is coming off his best game. He completed 28 of 42 throws for 352 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions in the 41-35 win over the Redskins.
Final bow for Eli?
This very likely will be Eli Manning’s final game for the Giants. The two-time Super Bowl MVP is finishing his 16th season with the team and his contract is expiring. With Jones now starting, it is unlikely the 38-year-old will be given a new deal. Manning has not discussed his future plans. So how will the home crowd react to the man who was the face of the franchise since 2004?