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.
Last time we saw the Giants the Eagles blew them out 40-17. Across the parking lot the Phillies were taking on the Yankees in the world series. While this Sunday's matchup in the swamps of North Jersey won't be so momentous, there's probably more on the line for the Eagles this time.
Dave's full analysis is after the jump.
Coming off a near perfect 34-7 beatdown of the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday the 8-4 Eagles now have to take it up another notch when they face the 7-5 New York Giants on Sunday night in the Meadowlands. The G-Men are coming off a huge 31-24 win over Dallas in a game that not only saved their season, but further tightened up an extremely close NFC East division race. A Philadelphia win would complete the season sweep of New York and almost guarantee the Birds at the very least a wildcard spot in the playoffs, but more importantly put them in control of winning the division. A loss could potentially set up a three way tie in the East, depending on the outcome of the Cowboys game against San Diego. This is the time of the year when each week becomes a one game season as the games take on a playoff atmosphere.
In the first meeting between these two teams back in week eight, the Eagles jumped out to an early lead and kept their foot on the Giant’s throat in a 40-17 romp. They used big plays on offense and kept Eli Manning off balance on defense to thoroughly dominate this game. While I do not expect Sunday night’s game to be nearly as one sided as this one, Philadelphia will look to recreate the same game plan that gave the so much success the first time they played.
Looking at the Giant’s offense the one area that has hurt them over the past several weeks has been their ability to effectively run the ball. Their big threat is Brandon Jacobs who has run for 722 yards on 187 carries which is less than 4 yards a carry. In his last three games he has only rushed for 105 yards combined. Their other back, Ahmad Bradshaw has been battling some injuries and hasn’t been able to contribute on a regular basis only rushing for 84 yards in the last three games. If the Eagle’s defense can keep these two from establishing any kind of momentum that will put the game in the hands of QB Eli Manning to try and pull off the win. Manning’s performance has been inconsistent at best. While he did pass for 241 yards and 2 TD’s against the Cowboys last week, he still has thrown 11 interceptions and lost four fumbles so far this season as he has the tendency to cough the ball up when under constant pressure. His primary target will be WR Steve Smith who has 78 receptions for 979 yards this season. Jacobs is also a receiving threat out of the backfield as his 74 yard catch and run for a touchdown against Dallas helped seal the win in last week’s game.
Defensively, the Giants are a mere shell from the unit that led the NFL after their 5-0 start. The defensive line has been unable to stop the run as well as put pressure on opposing team’s quarterbacks. Things got so bad that head coach Tom Coughlin benched DE Osi Umenyiora and DT Fred Robbins for the Dallas game in an effort to shake things up. Despite the loss, the Cowboys still rolled up 424 yards of total offense including 379 passing yards as Romo was only sacked twice for a loss of 13 yards and had no interceptions. Through 12 games, New York’s defense is still ranked 6th in total yards allowed (301.6), 7th against the pass (199) and 10th against the run (102.6). Their main problem has been keeping teams out of the end zone as they are ranked 25th in points allowed (23.8) which plays right into one of the Eagles biggest strengths as they are ranked 6th is points scored, averaging 27.2 per game.
Looking at this match up on paper it clearly favors the Eagles, but with so much on the line this promises to be a great game that should remain close until the end. The outcome will most likely be decided by a couple of big plays on offense and special teams as well as a key turnover or two late in the game. These teams know each other so well it will be hard to pull off any surprises as they love to come right at one another in typical smash mouth NFC East fashion.