This is the next part in our series of previews of the Eagles 2009 opponents. Joining us for this feature is Dave Schwab, who writes about the Eagles at his site Eagles Lincs.
This weekend a full on sports war between Philadelphia in New York will be in full swing as the Phillies and Yankees will play game 4 of the world series at Citizens Bank Park and the Eagles and Giants square off at the Linc.
Dave's full analysis is after the jump.
In the first really meaningful game of the year, the 4-2 Eagles host the 5-2 New York Giants in a 1:05 P.M. start on Sunday November 1st at Lincoln Financial Field. The winner of this game is guaranteed at least a share of the NFC East lead at the halfway point of the season. This game is actually part of a double header as the Phillies are scheduled to host the Yankees Sunday night across the street at Citizens Bank Park in game four of the World Series. While the Eagles used some big plays and great defense to get by Washington on Monday night, the Giants suffered their second straight loss of the season on Sunday, falling 24-17 to Arizona. In a game they still had a chance to win; QB Eli Manning threw a costly interception late in the 4th quarter to seal the win for the Cardinals. This was the first time in 16 games that the Giants lost the game when leading at halftime, as their offense all but disappeared in the second half.
While the statistics for the Giants offense still look good, there is something missing these past two weeks. They still rank 6th in both yards per game and total points scored, but in their last two games pressure on Manning has taken its toll. He has turned the ball over five times, throwing four interceptions and fumbling once. Arizona held their 5th ranked rushing offense to just over 100 yards forcing them to pass the ball more than usual. The past has shown that constant pressure through elaborate blitz schemes and odd man rushes will keep Manning off balance and cause him to make bad decisions with the ball. If you allow him to sit back and develop a rhythm he has the ability to pick your secondary apart. Defensive coordinator, Sean McDermott’s job this week will to dial up the pressure from every angle to constantly keep Manning guessing who and how many are coming to get him.
Defensively the Giants are still ranked 1st overall and 2nd against the pass, but they have slipped to 16th in points allowed and 15th in rushing yards allowed. The Eagles did a better job in balancing out their run to pass ratio in the Washington game, but they will definitely need to establish the run against this defense. While Brian Westbrook’s availability for the game is questionable after suffering a concussion on Monday night, Philadelphia needs to develop a game plan that takes advantage of the Giants weakness in stopping the run. This could be the game to try and work in a few more wildcat plays for Michael Vick as he seems poised to have a breakout game. Just like the Eagles, the key to the Giants success will be getting pressure on Donovan McNabb. The Eagles patchwork offensive line has to find a way to contain DE’s Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora who have combined for 7 sacks and caused 4 fumbles on the season.
This game is shaping up to be your typical smash mouth NFC East battle between two teams that do not like each other. Neither team is playing their best football so you have to believe that whichever team holds onto the ball and avoids the costly turnover has the best chance to win. Over the past two weeks the Giants have shown the game plan needed to beat them; on defense, stopping the run which will force Manning to have to throw the ball, and on offense, establishing a running game that will open up the secondary for big plays. If the Eagles can execute both these strategies, they should win.