Usually 1-3 vs 0-4 means a bad day of football. But this is the Eagles and the Giants, one of the NFL’s best rivalries. These teams usually play compelling games. I think we’ll see a good game on Sunday.
The primary reason is that both teams are desperate. A win for the Eagles could put them on top of the division. A win for the Giants could keep their season from completely blowing up. The nucleus of each team has won plenty of games. Neither group wants to lose and see the season slipping away.
Initially I thought this might be the game where the Eagles used a lot of TEs. The Giants have a poor set of LBs. You want those guys on the field. But the injury report complicates things. CBs Aaron Ross and Jayron Hosley are out. Corey Webster is doubtful. That leaves the Giants with 3 healthy CBs…Prince Amukamara, Terrell Thomas and Trumaine McBride. Amukamara is a talented CB. Thomas was darn good, but injuries have hurt him.
You now how to figure out if you want to attack the Giants LBs or their CBs.
The run game will play into this. Do you want lots of TEs to help you block? Do you prefer to spread out the defense with WRs and then have DBs on the field as run defenders?
The Giants DL also has to be factored in. They have 4 sacks this year, tied for the lowest total in the league. The Giants DL is a shell of what it used to be. I put on some tape of JPP to see how he’s playing. I was shocked at how mediocre he is. Pass rushers must use a burst off the line and then convert that speed to power when they engage the blocker. JPP doesn’t have a great burst off the ball, but he has zero power at the point of contact. It is impossible to think that this guy dominated the league in 2011.
With no fear of a pass rush and facing a banged up secondary, this might be a game where Chip Kelly has Michael Vick throwing to WRs quite a bit. In fact, you wonder about going with 4 WRs. That puts either Jason Avant or Damaris Johnson against a Safety.
No matter what Kelly chooses to do, he should have a favorable matchup.
That puts the pressure on the OL and Vick. The line has had a couple of tough weeks after a strong start. It seems odd to think that the Giants are a team you can get well against, but that’s the case this year. And Vick is deadly when he’s got a clean pocket. The Giants played lots of man coverage last week and Alex Smith ran 7 times for 37 yards. The Giants have been burned by Vick in the past. It will be interesting to see how they defend the Eagles.
Another sub-plot here is that Antrel Rolle has been an important defender against Vick since 2010. The Giants have used him in the box as a blitzer quite a bit. Will the Giants use him more in coverage or will they continue to have him be a box defender that rushes?
You can bet that LeSean McCoy will be a busy man. The Giants are 28th in the league in run defense. Shady has had some big games against the G-men. The question Sunday is whether you run at JPP or away from him. He was single-blocked by the TE in the Chiefs game on some run plays. Since he’s not running well, you could go away from him and leave him unblocked. This would have been insane a couple of years ago because of his ability to make plays from the backside.
I expect the Eagles to score in this game. Anything less than 24 points will be very disappointing.
As for the Eagles D and the Giants O…that matchup is harder to figure. I’d give the advantage to Eli and his receivers, Hakeem Nicks is struggling and the Giants OL is having a very rough year. Eli becomes an average QB with poor protection. And Nicks struggles have taken away a major weapon from the passing game.
Victor Cruz is having a great year. He’ll be in the slot a lot, going against Brandon Boykin. Nicks and Reuben Randle will be on the outside, going against Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher. Nicks and Randle have combined for 23 catches and 0 TDs this year. These guys should be really good, but the production just isn’t there.
Boykin vs Cruz will be interesting to watch. Boykin has been blitzing a lot in recent games, but I don’t think that will be the case on Sunday. Cruz is the #1 offensive threat for the Giants. Bill Davis must neutralize him as best he can. Boykin matches up the best. Cruz will be a very tough test for Boykin.
These are 2 very flawed units. The one that plays better will probably win the game.
Both teams have some issues on STs. The Giants gave up a PR TD last week. The Giants are getting minimal impact from their return game. The Eagles have struggled the last 2 weeks. This is another area that could hugely influence the game. Which flawed unit can have the breakout game?
I can’t say I feel great about this game, but I do feel pretty good. The Eagles have just played 3 tough teams. They faced hot QBs. The Giants are the other end of the spectrum. If the Eagles look past the 0-4 record and play hard, they should win this game. You just wonder about the desperation factor with the Giants. Is this the week when they quit making mistakes and start making plays?
I do feel confident that the game won’t be boring. Strange things happen when the Eagles and Giants get together.