This is why the NFL schedules division games late in the season. So we get games just like this. Two bitter rivals, neck in neck in a playoff/division title race, both beat up, both facing adversity and still answering the bell, set facing each other for one last time in the regular season.
I really expect this to be a war. Both the Eagles and Giants came off tough losing streaks to win their last 2 games and keep themselves in the playoff hunt. The Eagles had lost 5 of 6 and the Giants were losers of 4 straight.
- In his last 6 meetings with the Giants, Brian Westbrook is averaging 120 yards from scrimmage per game and has 8 TDs.
Donte Stallworth is averaging 111 yards a game against the Giants in his career
- Earlier this year, LJ Smith had 7 catches for 111 yards against the Giants
- In his career, Michael Strahan(doubtful) has 20.5 sacks against the Eagles
- In his past 8 games vs the Eagles Tiki Barber averaged over 114 yards per game with 6 100-yard games.
The Giants have struggled to put alot of pressure on the QB in their past 5 games, registering just over 1 sack per game. With the excellent play of the Eagles offensive line, we should see yet another game where Jeff Garcia has all the time he needs to utilize a healthy compliment of recievers. In all likelihood we will not see yet another classic Strahan/Runyan war as the Giants DE is listed as doubtful, and despite participating in some drills this week is unlikely to play. Even if he does play, it's pretty tough to see how he could be all that effective after such a long layoff...
Against the run the Giants are giving up over 100 yards a game the last 5 games, but have limited opponents to under 4 yards a carry. Still, Westbrook will present a mismatch for the Giants outside linebackers(as he presents for virtually every team) and if he can force the Giants to bring safeties up to spy him... Stallworth and Brown shoud have success deep.
The Giants defense has been getting healthier but is still a group that struggles to get pressure and is very susceptible through the air. I think it will be important however for Andy to resist passing every down and really commit to playing a ball control game. The Giants will undoubtedly look to run the ball against the Eagles and it's imperative that the offense do what they can to help the defense. I think we all know what's going to happen if this Eagles' defense gets stuck on the field too long against Tiki Barber....
Eagles Defense vs Giants Offense
There's absolutely no secret on how to beat the Eagles. Over the past 8 weeks the blueprint has been drawn, tested, and proven over and over again. Just keep running the ball. Even arguably the most prolific pass offense in the NFL, the Colts, saw no need to even bother throwing the ball. They were able to gash this Eagles D for 4 TDs on the ground and although the Eagles have won their past two they are still giving up rushing yards at an alarming rate.
So knowing how porous the Eagles run defense has been and knowing that the Giants have a guy named Tiki Barber, who happens to be 2nd in the NFC in rushing... what do you think they'll try to do? Especially given the inconsistency of their QB this year, it's pretty obvious to almost everyone that Coughlin will likely look to keep the ball on the ground against a defense who has given up 910 rushing yards in it's past 5 games.
If the Giants are forced the throw however, the Eagles defense may be looking at a favorable matchup. The Giants offense line is likely to be without 2 starters and 3rd year QB Eli Manning has not seemed to take the step forward you'd like to see a 3rd year QB take. He is once again among the leauge leaders in INTs with 15. While he has not thrown any picks the last 2 games, he has still been rather innacurate and is prone to overthrow or throw behind the reciever multiple times in a game. If the Eagles defense has done anything this year it's been able to take advantage of mistakes. They are just the 2nd team in NFL history with 3 players with 70+ yard INT-TDs in single season and are 2nd in the NFL with 4 defensive TDs.
Despite Manning's mistakes this year he still has weapons as evidenced by his 22 TD passes this year to guys like Burress, Shockey, & Barber out of the backfield. Amani Toomer, who killed the Eagles early in the year is out for the season.
Bottom line that to win this game the Eagles are going to have to control the clock on offense, score at least 24 points, and come up with a turnover or two on defense. The Giants offense, led by Barber, will be more than the Eagles front 7 to handle if they are left on the field too long.
Check out the NFL-Giants blog game preview here. Our main difference of opinion is that he thinks the Giants will make plays in the passing game, whereas I'm not sure they'll even bother throwing...