PHILADELPHIA — It’s been a while since the Eagles faced a must-win game in October.
After suffering back-to-back losses to Tennessee and Minnesota, however, they enter Thursday’s game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium needing a victory to help their chances of returning to the playoffs.
And to boost their confidence.
“This is a huge game for us,” Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks said. “We’re focused on ourselves and not the rest of the division, but we know we have to turn this thing around and I think we will.”
The NFC East is still very much up for grabs.
Washington (2-2) currently owns a half-game lead over the Eagles (2-3) and Dallas (2-3). The Giants (1-4) also need a victory to climb back into contention.
“We’re excited mainly because it’s a divisional opponent,” Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz said.
“It’s the next opponent, but it’s a divisional opponent and we know where the division is sitting right now. It’s really just wide open and we really want to get off to the right start in our division.”
Playing on Thursday is physically difficult but may help the Eagles from an emotional standpoint.
They know what it takes to have a quick turnaround, however. Last season, they went to Charlotte, North Carolina, on a Thursday night and posted a 28-23 win over the Carolina Panthers in what was one of their most impressive performances of the regular season.
“It’s definitely tough,” Wentz said. “I don’t know if our bodies are quite made to take these beatings in five days. It’s definitely a lot of mental and physical preparation that goes into it.”
The difference this year is that the Eagles are trying to snap a losing streak. The defending Super Bowl champions haven’t suffered back-to-back losses since the 2016 season, when they dropped five in a row en route to a 7-9 season in coach Doug Pederson’s first year.
The frustration has been evident.
Cornerback Jalen Mills exchanged shoves with Fletcher Cox in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 23-21 loss to the Vikings. Guard Stefan Wisniewski took to Twitter to complain about being benched in favor of Isaac Seumalo.
Before he went on injured reserve with a knee injury, running back Jay Ajayi complained the Eagles weren’t running the ball enough.
Granted, the internal strife doesn’t compare to Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.’s ESPN interview last weekend, but for a team that prides itself on its culture and chemistry, it could prove troublesome.
“Our guys are competitive,” Pederson said. “I think that’s the culture we’ve created. If we didn’t have that, there would probably be some more issues going on. But the fact that the guys want it so bad, and they are standing up and holding each other accountable, I think that’s a credit to the players.
“I see their frustration when things don’t go our way. But also I see leaders on the football team standing up and that’s what we need right now. We need those guys. We’re sitting here at 2-3 and 0-0 in our division with an opportunity to make some hay.”