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Eagles-Giants Preview: Home Sick?
If it seems like the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants just played each other, well, that's because they did play each other only three weeks ago. The Eagles won that first matchup at MetLife Stadium, 36-21, but it wasn't as easy as that score makes it look.
Eagles-Giants Week 5
Eagles Offense Versus Giants Defense
Michael Vick pulled his hamstring in that game and now he'll be back starting against the Giants due to Nick Foles concussion. Vick isn't completely healthy, which means he won't be able to run as well as he normally does. That could be a problem against the Giants. In the first game, Vick didn't complete a single pass in the first quarter. He only kept the Eagles alive by rushing 7 times for 79 yards. He won't be able to do that this time with a bum hammy. Instead, he'll have to use his arm to beat the Giants and that has never been Vick's strong suit.
Luckily for Vick, the Giants are the worst team in the NFL at getting to the quarterback, with only six sacks. Oh sure, they still have Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka, but all of them appear to either be on their last legs or not completely healthy. LT Jason Peters should be fine, but RT Lane Johnson needs to start playing better or people are going to start questioning why the Eagles used such a high draft pick on him.
The Eagles offense is ranked No. 3 overall, but only 11th in passing yardage. DeSean Jackson had a huge game against the Giants three weeks ago, with seven receptions for 132 yards and a touchdown, but the Giants will be getting CB Corey Webster back from injury. He'll team with Prince Amukamara and safeties Ryan Mundy and Antrel Rolle to make sure Jackson doesn't have a repeat performance. With Foles sidelined, No. 2 receiver Riley Cooper will go back to being irrelevant and Jason Avant is average at best. Zach Ertz is starting to get more playing time, but he and Brent Celek aren't the dynamic tight end duo we thought we were getting in the preseason.
The Eagles were able to have success through the air against New York in the first game because the Giants were concentrating on stopping the NFL's leading rusher, LeSean McCoy. That part of the plan worked for the G-Men, as they held McCoy to a season-low 2.3 yards per carry and he ran for minus-4 yards on seven carries in the second half. That was due to what they call "nut stunts". Essentially, RG Todd Herremans said what the Giants defensive linemen did was a "mush rush", which entails clogging the line of scrimmage to prevent those cut-backs McCoy loves so much.
It's easier to stop a running game when you have a bunch of interior linemen who are between 300-350 pounds like the Giants. Ex-Eagles Mike Patterson and Cullen Jenkins are big run-stuffers, Shaun Rogers is 6-foot-4 and 350 pounds and now the Giants get Linval Joseph back, who might be their best interior defensive lineman. Add in the fact that Eagles center Jason Kelce got dominated in the first matchup and RG Todd Herremans looks like a shell of his former self and I don't expect McCoy to have a huge day on Sunday. The Giants are only ranked 21st against the run, but they have improved dramatically over the last few weeks. As a matter of fact, they held Minnesota's Adrian Peterson to 28 yards on 13 carries last week. There is also the fact that MLB Jon Beason only played a handful of snaps in the first meeting after being acquired in a trade and recently he's looking like the three-time Pro Bowler that he really is.
Giants Offense Versus Eagles Defense
The Giants piled up some nice offensive numbers in the first matchup, but the one statistic that has haunted them all year, led to that loss. They turned the ball over four times. Three of those turnovers were Eli Manning interceptions. Manning has thrown 15 INTs already this season, after throwing only 15 all of last season. A positive note for the Giants is that Manning didn't throw an interception in a game for the first time all season in last week's win over the Minnesota Vikings. It's also not a coincidence that it was New York's first win of the season.
The Giants rank 22nd overall in total offense, but that number is dragged down by their 31st ranking in rushing yardage. The Giants simply can't run the football. Injuries to RBs David Wilson, Andre Brown and several offensive linemen have robbed New York of their ability to run the football. Guard Chris Snee and center David Baas are on injured reserve. They were so desperate that they brought Brandon Jacobs back and even just signed Peyton Hillis on Oct. 16. The Eagles run defense is ranked a respectable 12th, so the Giants are not going to win this game on the ground.
That leaves the Eagles defense licking their chops at the thought of Manning having to throw the ball all game to win. The more he throws, the greater the chances he'll throw one to the other team. Unfortunately, the Eagles have the worst overall defense in the entire NFL due mainly to the fact that they are ranked 31st against the pass. CBs Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams are playing better, but the Eagles safeties are still the worst in the league. With receivers like Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Rueben Randle and TE Brandon Myers, the Eagles simply don't have enough talent to shut them down again. The Eagles concentrated on stopping Cruz in the first matchup, holding him to only 5 receptions for 48 yards, but that was because Brandon Boykin covered him in the slot and didn't allow Cruz a reception. That won't happen a second time. And by concentrating on Cruz so much, the Eagles allowed Nicks to catch 9 passes for 142 yards.
There is also the little fact that when Manning gets time to throw the football, he can produce big numbers. That doesn't bode well for an Eagles team that only has 15 sacks this season and only dropped Manning once in the first meeting. Trent Cole's next sack will be his first this season. At least DeMeco Ryans has started to look like a Pro Bowler again.
Both teams have terrible special teams. Last week, the Giants allowed their third punt return touchdown of the season already and returner Rueben Randle fumbled. Eagles return man, Demaris Johnson is near the bottom of the league in return yardage and just seems to seek out opposing players to run into. I would complement Eagles punter Donnie Jones for his incredible work against the Cowboys, when he touched the football more than anyone else on the entire Eagles roster, but he hurt his foot in the game, so I expect him to be awful this week.
NFC East Standings
New York Giants
Who has more turnovers on Sunday?
Giants coach Tom Coughlin might be having the worst season of his coaching career with a 1-6 record, but he's brought his team back from the brink before and, oh yeah, he's got two Super Bowl rings. Chip Kelly continues to learn on the job by making rookie mistakes each and every game. Attempting a 60-yard field goal with 15 seconds still on the clock in the first half and a timeout in his pocket last week was curious to say the least.
The Eagles are clearly the more talented team, but there is that little fact that the Eagles haven't won a home game in over a year. They have lost nine in a row at home, and no, it isn't relevant that the last win was against these Giants. Vick's hamstring injury will prevent him from using his best (only?) asset, his ability to run. Even against a bad defense like the Giants, Vick is sure to turn the ball over if he's stuck in the pocket trying to win the game with his arm.
Giants 27 - Eagles 23