First and foremost before we even discuss offense vs defense the Eagles hold one very significant advantage over the Giants. Momentum. The Eagles come into this game on a blistering pace as probably the hottest team in the NFC. They finished the season with 5 straight wins, including 3 straight on the road against their division. The Giants, on the other hand, have limped into the playoffs on a worse roll than any other team left. At 8-8 overall and losing 6 of 8 in the second half of the season,it's fairly safe to say the Giants backed into the postseason. Without an incredible performance from Tiki Barber, to beat the 5-11 Redskins the Giants wouldn't even be here.
No 8-8 team has ever won a playoff game and an Andy Reid led Eagles team have never lost a first round playoff game. So momentum and history appear to be on our side...
Eagles Offense vs Giants Defense - The Giants defensive line has certainly suffered from the loss of Michael Strahan. Their pass rush has been missing in action and as Paul Domowitch pointed out, the Giants haven't had more than 2 sacks in a game since week 6. Big Blue's 25th ranked defense got even more bad news this week when they put starting CB Corey Webster on injured reserve. What's worse, Nickel cornerback Kevin Dockery is listed as questionable.
The Eagles passing attack will certainly to look to take an advantage of a depleted secondary that was frankly not very good in the first place(5th worst in the NFL). LJ Smith has been particularly good against the Giants this year with 11 catches for 165 yards in the 2 meetings. In the last few weeks of the year, and frankly after LJ complained a bit, Garcia has started to look his way a bit more and has had a lot of success doing it. Of course, the top threat in the passing game is the same guy who is the threat in the running game. Brian Westbrook.
Since McNabb went down Westbrook has averaged over 26 touches a game, about 6 more than he was BG(before Garcia). He's coming off a season in which he was just a few yards short of 2,000 total yards from scrimmage. In the win over the Giants Westbrook rushed for 97 yards and 2 TDs. He also had 5 catches. In the earlier loss to the Giants Westbrook had 124 yards from scrimmage and a TD. In the last game both he and Buckhalter ran all over the Giants working out of the 2 back set together.
Eagles Defense vs Giants Offense - My absolute favorite description of the Giants' offensive situation came from the Iggles Blog.
Love that... and it's true at this point. I also might add the "throw the ball deep to Plaxico and let him blatantly push off whatever defender is on him every play."
Injuries have claimed their most consistent receiver in Amani Toomer and neutralized Jeremy Shockey lately. The pro bowl TE missed the Giants final game with an ankle injury. He's listed as questionable for this weekend's game but has been able to practice twice. It's hard to believe Shockey won't play this weekend, but it remains to be seen how effective he'll be able to be. Media reports had him jogging with a limp in the Friday practice. Injuries have also claimed 3 of the 5 starters on the Giants offensive line.
Plaxico Burress is pretty infamous for his several playoff disappearing acts. He earned the rep for not showing up in the postseason in Pittsburgh and pretty much confirmed it by getting shutout last year against the Panthers. Of course, a fairly significant part of that was the play of QB Eli Manning in that game... He had 4 turnovers, looked completely lost, and the Giants offense didn't score a point.
Sam Donnellon expertly summed up how Manning has looked lately
It's been another tough season for Manning as he once again finished in the top 5 in the NFL in INTs with 18.
More than anything the Eagles need to focusing on stopping Tiki Barber, whose incredible 234 rushing performance in the final week of the season ensured the Giants would be in the postseason. For whatever reason, however, the Eagles have been very effective in stopping Barber. He's been held under 100 yards and only 3.2 yards per carry in both games against the Eagles this year. Certainly the Eagles familiarity over the years with Barber has to play a major part in their ability to figure him out this year.
I've written alot here, but in the end the plan boils down to this. Stop Barber, limit mistakes on offense, and let Westbrook run wild.