Saquon Barkley is fun and 4 more reasons to watch Eagles vs. Giants on 'Thursday Night Football'

Thursday Night Football has actually been a lot of fun this year.

We saw the highest scoring first half of a Thursday night game in Week 2 with the Bengals and Ravens, the Browns’ first win in 635 days came in Week 3, there was a can’t-miss Rams vs. Vikings matchup in Week 4, and Tom Brady entered the NFL record books again in Week 5.

So what will the Eagles vs. Giants NFC East rivalry matchup bring us in Week 6?

One thing to watch for is Eagles tight end Zach Ertz having the potential to reach an NFL milestone. Ertz can become the fifth player in NFL history to record at least 10 receptions and 100 receiving yards in three consecutive games after hitting those marks in both of the last two weeks.

Both of these teams enter Week 6 with losing records. The Giants are 1-4 while the defending Super Bowl Champions are 2-3. It almost seems like no one wants to win the NFC East as no team in the division has a winning record. So, this matchup could really help the winner gain ground in the division, especially if the Eagles win as this is their first division game, while the Giants have already lost to the Cowboys. But, it’s still early in the season and a lot will change in the NFC East by Week 17. Though, it also seems possible that no team finishes with a winning record.

The Eagles are 84-86-2 (.494) in the all-time series against the Giants, including a 6-2 (.750) record at MetLife Stadium. Philadelphia has won each of its last three games vs. New York, as well as seven of the last eight overall (.875).

So, why watch a matchup between two teams with losing records?

1. Can either offense get going again?

The Eagles were without Carson Wentz for the first two weeks of the season, but he’s back now and the offense is still struggling. Wentz has the highest completion percentage of his career at 67.2 percent through three games played, and has thrown five touchdowns to just one interception. The issue isn’t so much him as much as what’s going on around him. Leading rusher Jay Ajayi tore his ACL last week, Alshon Jeffery missed three games and no wide receiver stepped up in his place, and Jake Elliott has missed his only two field goals that came from over 40 yards out.

In five games this year, Eli Manning has six touchdowns, three interceptions, and a 71.6 completion percentage. Manning has been sacked 16 times through five weeks, putting him on pace to be sacked 51 times this season. That pretty much explains the Giants’ offensive issues. And though it doesn’t come close to the 2002 season in which David Carr was sacked 76 times, it’s not a good mark.

Giants head coach Pat Shurmur will be motivated to ensure Manning and the Giants offense plays well as he takes on an Eagles team for whom he served as quarterbacks coach (2002-08), offensive coordinator (2013-15) and interim head coach (2015).

Here’s a look at some of SB Nation’s Bill Connelly’s advanced stats that show how these teams match up.

Giants defense vs. Eagles offense

Giants offense vs. Eagles defense

2. Drama with Odell Beckham Jr.

It’s not often that a star player talks negatively about his team. Odell Beckham Jr. did just that in an interview with ESPN’s Josina Anderson, in which he candidly discussed his thoughts on the Giants’ issues.

“Oh, I gotta take a slant and go 60? Not to say it’s not fun, but I want those easy touchdowns too,” Beckham said. “I watch everybody across the league, all the top receivers get the ball the way they should, and if they don’t they say something about it.” You can read the most interesting parts of the interview here.

The interview came out ahead of last weekend’s Giants vs. Panthers game. But things have only heated up in the days since. How will Beckham do in this game after news of his interview spread wide enough for it to cause Lil Wayne (who was also in the interview with Anderson) to have some beef with Eli Manning?

So far this season, Beckham has 39 catches for 462 receiving yards and one touchdown.

3. Saquon Barkley is really fun to watch.

The Giants offense isn’t great and Manning is past his prime, but Barkley was the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft and he’s off to a hot start. He has 308 rushing yards and three rushing scores along with 274 receiving yards and two touchdowns through the air. One of those came from a Beckham 57-yard touchdown pass last week against the Panthers. If the Giants win tonight, it will likely be because Barkley has a big game.

The Eagles’ run defense is actually quite good right now, ranking second in the league with just 66.4 rushing yards allowed per game. They’ve also allowed only two rushing touchdowns, which is tied for fifth best. Only eight teams have allowed two or less rushing touchdowns this year, so it’ll be interesting to see how the Giants’ shiny, new weapon does against the Eagles’ impressive run defense.

4. Despite having the worst record in the division, the Giants have the most cumulative points scored in the NFC East.

The Giants have scored a total of 104 points and are averaging 20.8 points per game. Washington also has scored 20.8 points per game but has played one less game as they already had their bye week. Here’s a look at the Giants vs. Eagles matchup via the numbers they’re averaging through five weeks this season. Other than the rushing yards and rushing yards allowed, the numbers aren’t too far off.

5. Fan confidence is declining for both teams.

Eagles fans are losing confidence but still believe they will win this matchup. SB Nation’s FanPulse poling, which surveys fans of each NFL team on a weekly basis, found that 49 percent of Eagles fans are confident in the direction of their team entering Week 6. Fans believe Philadelphia will win by five points (on average) when visiting New York. Meanwhile, 41 percent of Giants fans are confident in the direction of their team and their hopes for beating the Eagles are not high.

Big Blue View FanPulse: Giants will lose by 1
Bleeding Green Nation FanPulse: Eagles will win by 5
Odds: Eagles -3

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