I should have taken the Eagles -3. I knew they were going to roll, but being the homer I am, I made up some justifications for why I should stick with the Giants. The gulf from Carson Wentz, a wizard in and out of the pocket and Eli Manning, an erratic crap-shooter with the pocket awareness of a zombie, is oceanic.
• Manning’s modest numbers fail to convey how poorly he played. He fumbled on his own goal line, but his teammate recovered it, his interception was on a pass forced to a double-covered third-string tight end, and many of his completions were poorly thrown passes snagged out of the air by Odell Beckham or Saquon Barkley. On one play Barkley was open in the flat, and Manning’s pass was so low Barkley had to fall to catch it.
The Giants don’t have ready alternatives – Alex Tanney is a journeyman backup, and Kyle Lauletta is a rookie fourth-round pick – but they could trade for a Tyrod Taylor/Ryan Fitzpatrick type if they hope the salvage the season, or throw Lauletta to the wolves if they shift to development mode. Either way, the Eli era has gone on way too long (he hasn’t been a top-20 real-life QB since 2011.)
• Barkley is the best running back in the NFL right now. He now has six straight 100 YFS games to start the year on a bad team (the NFL record is Kareem Hunt’s seven, and Hunt was in a great offense.) His 229 YFS and a rushing TD in a blowout is about as game-flow proof as it gets.
• Odell Beckham made some great catches and even better runs after the catch in this game, but it was all short stuff. Manning throws a wobbly and inaccurate ball, so Beckham’s skills aren’t yet on full display.
• Wayne Gallman, Barkley’s backup, looked pretty good as a runner and receiver. Should anything happen to Barkley he’s the clear No. 2.
• Carson Wentz is 100 percent back from his ACL tear. His first TD to Alshon Jeffery was a perfect throw on the move under pressure, and he has a knack for buying time and converting third-and-longs. His stat line (278 yards, 7.7 YPA, three TDs) was modest by 2018 standards, but he took only one sack despite being under pressure and did not throw a pick. He also scrambled for 14 yards.
• The other good news for Wentz is Alshon Jeffery (12-8-74-2) is all the way back, and when healthy Jeffery is an elite receiver. Few players with his size and wingspan are as fast, and Jeffery produced last year even while playing with a bad shoulder that needed off-season surgery.
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• Zach Ertz always gets his. Nelson Agholor had 91 yards thanks to a broken play, but only five targets. He’s the clear No. 3 behind Jeffery and Ertz.
• Wendall Smallwood got more work (18 carries, one catch), but Corey Clement (11 carries, three catches) was more active in the passing game and at the goal line. Smallwood also fumbled (though he recovered it.)
• I caught only the condensed version of this game so I mercifully only heard snippets of Troy Aikman and Joe Buck clutching their pearls about Odell Beckham’s “antics” on the sideline. Just another reason I’m thankful not to have watched it live.