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Giants: What To Watch For

Posted Oct 5, 2013

The Eagles and Giants meet twice in four weeks, beginning Sunday at MetLife Stadium. Here's what you need to watch ...

Last Time They Met At MetLife Stadium:
December 30, 2012 -- Eagles 7, Giants 42

In the final regular season game of the 2012 season, the Eagles fell in a lopsided game on the road that would serve as Andy Reid's final game as head coach of the Eagles. Michael Vick returned to the starting lineup after an injury to Nick Foles the previous week but was knocked out of action in the game himself. Eli Manning threw five touchdown passes on the day, including two to Rueben Randle.

Key Matchups

Eagles Safeties vs. Victor Cruz

Cruz is the Giant’s equivalent of DeSean Jackson. He is the deep threat who has proven the ability to strike at any time. When the Giants are looking down and out offensively, Eli Manning and Cruz have the ability to change the entire game with long pass and catch. This season, Cruz has had game-high catches of 70, 51, and 69 yards. Since 2011, Cruz has found the end zone 23 times, five of which have come against the Eagles, with the speedy receiver averaging 99.8 yards per game in four career contests. Though much of the burden of stopping Cruz will fall on either Cary Williams or Bradley Fletcher, the Eagles safeties will need to make sure the Massachusetts product doesn’t get behind them. Whether Nate Allen, Patrick Chung or Earl Wolff is playing over the top, keeping Cruz contained will be crucial to the Eagles success.

Eagles vs. Themselves

As mentioned earlier, the Eagles did a nice job of not turning the ball over against the Broncos, but they still committed what Chip Kelly refers to as "S.I.W"s, or self-inflicted wounds. Whether it was a holding penalty or a drive-stalling drop, the Eagles continued to stop themselves offensively. Meanwhile, the Giants have been prone to mistakes, turning the ball over 16 times this season (10 interceptions, six lost fumbles). If the Eagles can play a mistake-free game and force the Giants to continue their turnover-prone ways, they could be leaving Metlife Stadium victorious with most of their schedule still ahead of them.

Players To Watch 

Linebacker Connor Barwin, No. 98

Don't be surprised to see linebacker Connor Barwin turned loose on Giants quarterback Eli Manning this Sunday. Barwin has 18 tackles, 2.0 sacks and two pass knockdowns this season. The Giants have allowed 14 sacks this season, which is tied for fourth most in the NFL. Like the Eagles, the Giants have their first-round pick starting at right tackle in Justin Pugh. According to Pro Football Focus, Pugh has allowed two sacks and 19 quarterback hurries in the first four games. It will be interesting to see if the Eagles rush the veteran linebacker and test the rookie right tackle.

Tight End Zach Ertz, No. 86

Is the second-round pick's role increasing in the offense? Zach Ertz made his first-career start on Sunday as the Eagles opened in 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends, two receivers) and featured this package more often than in previous contests. Ertz logged a career-high 31 offensive snaps and hauled in a career-long 38-yard reception. Ertz has five catches for 112 yards, an average of 22.4 yards per reception. The Giants lost playmaking safety Stevie Brown in the preseason to a torn ACL. Two of the Giants' four interceptions this season have been by their safeties - one by former Steeler Ryan Mundy and one by Antrel Rolle. Ertz has the athleticism to stretch the field and eat up chunks of yardage at a time. With the Giants pass rush tied for the fewest sacks in the league, Ertz should have time to find the holes in the defense.

Trent Cole will be on the hunt for Eli Manning

Quarterback Eli Manning, No. 10

Only one quarterback has been sacked more in the NFL this season than Eli Manning and that's Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger. The constant pressure has forced Manning to throw a league-high nine interceptions. He has 1,148 passing yards with six touchdowns for a 69.1 passer rating. Add two more lost fumbles and Manning is tied with the Jets' Geno Smith for the most turnovers in the league. For his career against the Eagles, Manning has completed 59 percent of his passes for 4,149 yards with 34 touchdowns against 18 interceptions for an 88.4 passer rating in 18 regular season games.

LB Mark Herzlich, No. 58

Since the start of the season, opponents have employed a linebacker to spy quarterback Michael Vick. Last week, the Broncos used middle linebacker Wesley Woodyard. It would be unlikely to see the Giants put Herzlich in this role. The third-year middle linebacker has been credited with a career-high 19 tackles already in just the first four games of the season. Herzlich is a smart, downhill linebacker. With head coach Chip Kelly's desire to get his playmakers in space to win one-on-one matchups, the Eagles will look to get running back LeSean McCoy, the NFL's leading rusher, against the 6-foot-4, 246-pound Herzlich.

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