New York Giants Week 12 Opponent First Look: Philadelphia Defense

The New York Giants play the Philadelphia Eagles twice in the next five games, and both contests may prove to be vital in the hunt for the final wildcard spot in the NFC. The Eagles defeated the Saints 40-29 after traveling to Denver to beat the Broncos 30-13.

The offense is playing excellent football and has rushed for over 200 yards in the last four games. The Eagles' defense is playing opportunistically and has applied solid pressure on opposing quarterbacks. They didn't sack Trevor Siemen last week, but they forced three Saints turnovers on their way to victory.

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The Eagles' defense currently ranks 20th in points allowed per game with an average of 23.6. For context, the Giants allow 24 points per game and are right behind the Eagles. Philadelphia allows the 13th most yards per game with an average of 348.1.

As for rushing yards allowed, they rank 21st with an average of 116.5 and 12th by allowing 231.5 passing yards per game.

Overall, the defense is solid; it's middle of the pack in the league by many metrics. However, they only have 18 sacks on the season, which ranks near the league's bottom.

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Defensive Line

The interior defensive line of the Eagles is a ferocious unit filled with explosive thick athletes that bring disruptive and violent hands to the trenches. Fletcher Cox is the leader of the defense in the middle of the defensive line.

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Cox is on the wrong side of 30, and Javon Hargrave has produced more this season, but Cox has always made incredible plays against the Giants. He's the ideal 3-technique who can penetrate and stress guards, so Matt Skura and Will Hernandez have their work cut out for them.

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Hargrave was signed in free agency two years ago after a solid stint with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He leads the team in pressures and sacks from the interior. Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon plays all over the line. He's excellent at disrupting the B-gap from the 4i-technique, but he also plays around 12-15 snaps at nose/1-Technique.

Former Colts defensive lineman Hassan Ridgeway plays around 20 snaps (give or take) as the third defensive lineman in the rotation. Ridgeway isn't as dynamic as Cox or Hargrave, but he can occupy space well enough to make a play every so often.


The Eagles employ a four-down front, and their edge rushers have developed into solid players. Josh Sweat was an often-injured player coming out of Florida State, and he's starting to scratch the surface of his athletic potential. Sweat is second on the team in pressures and sacks. He's a long explosive pass rusher who uses an excellent rip and bend move around the edge.

The former first-round pick out of Tennessee Derek Barnett is another edge bender who starts at the edge for the Eagles. Barnett has flashed through his career. He's not the most consistent player in the NFL, but his ability to get upfield will pose problems for both Nate Solder and maybe, even more specifically, Matt Peart, who has struggled to protect his outside shoulder.

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Longtime Washington Football Team player Ryan Kerrigan is a situational pass rusher who can earn a couple of pressures per game. Kerrigan is one of the more underrated players throughout his career. At this point, he's a bit over the hill, but he has made so many plays against the Giants in the past. Why not make a few more with a green jersey on?

Sixth-round edge out of Coastal Carolina Terron Jackson earned his second-highest snap share against the Saints. Jackson is a bit of a tweener between an edge and a defensive lineman. He was very productive in college and has been adequate in a limited amount of snaps.


Howie Roseman and the Eagles have been notorious for not investing a lot of capital in the linebacker position. They did select Davion Taylor in the third round out of Colorado in 2020. He is athletic but out of position quite often--he was very raw coming out of college with limited snaps playing football. He hurt his knee against the Saints and may not be available for the matchup against the Giants.

Their 2015 UDFA, Alex Singleton, will be the starting middle linebacker if Taylor isn't available. Singleton will be a player to target in the middle of the field. He's played several positions for Gannon's defense this season at the second level, but he's a replacement-level player. He's played the most snaps at the linebacker position.

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Former Wisconsin Badger T.J. Edwards is arguably the best player at linebacker for the Eagles. Edwards is a physical, sure tackling, undersized linebacker. Genard Avery is the situational linebacker who spells Singleton, Edwards, and Taylor. His role may expand without Taylor. He's more of a run defender than someone who would excel in sub-packages.


Darius Slay is playing very good football at the moment. He intercepted Trevor Siemen and took it to the house last week, and he also returned a fumble for a touchdown against the Lions a few weeks ago. Slay has been all around the football. We should have a reunion of former Lions with Slay going up against Kenny Golladay (assuming Golladay plays) on Sunday. That should be a fun matchup to watch.

Former Pittsburgh Steelers versatile defensive back Steven Nelson is the other starter opposite of Slay. He's a good tackler who does a solid job in zone coverage; this works for Gannon's defense. The Eagles run the lowest amount of man coverage in the NFL; they are a zone-based defense.

The other cornerbacks are rookie Zech McPhearson and the recently resigned Avonte Maddox, who is their very solid slot cornerback. McPhearson only sees the field in dime situations or if any of the other cornerbacks get injured. Maddox is the nickel player who should see a lot of Kadarius Toney. A healthy Toney can win that matchup, but Maddox is a good player in his own right.

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There isn't a Brian Dawkins or Malcolm Jenkins on the current Eagles roster, but Anthony Harris, Marcus Epps, and Rodney McLeod are a solid trio of players on the backend of the defense. Harris is the single high safety with a lot of range. The Giants were interested in signing Harris two seasons ago, but the Minnesota Vikings franchise tagged him, and now he's on the Eagles.

McLeod is more of a box player who does a good job coming downhill, into the alley and delivering tough his on opposing ball carriers. He's not imposing by looks, and he's sub-200 pounds, but he can hit hard. Epps plays a lot of snaps as the third safety and will also play sub-packages, at times, over players like the rookie McPhearson. Expect to see all three of these players on the field this Sunday. 

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