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Week 17 Preview: The Regular Season Finale

Posted Jul 15, 2014

If the NFC East plays out as it has over recent seasons, it will all come down to this. Of course, if the Eagles have been good enough, perhaps there will be little to play for in this trip up I-95 than playoff seeding. But the possibility also stands that the Eagles and Giants will be playing for a division title as the seasons winds down on December 28.

In a way, the last time the Eagles and Giants met at the Meadowlands was a bit of a coming out party for Nick Foles. Back in Week 5 of the 2013 season, Foles entered the game late in the second quarter after Michael Vick injured his hamstring scrambling out of bounds. The Eagles led 19-7 after Foles' first drive under center, but the Giants stormed back to get within one point at 22-21. From there, Foles kicked it into overdrive, finding Brent Celek with a perfectly placed 25-yard touchdown pass, and then finding DeSean Jackson on a 5-yard fade route for the proverbial nail in the coffin. The Eagles picked up their second win of the season, snapping a three-game losing streak, and Foles proved his ability to lead the Eagles' fast-paced offense. He finished the afternoon 16 of 25 passing for 197 yards and two touchdowns.

One of the biggest reasons why the Giants were able to get back in the game after facing an early 12-point deficit was because of how well they slowed down LeSean McCoy. The Eagles' All-Pro back was held to just 46 yards on 20 carries. His 2.3 yards per carry average was the lowest for any game of his 2013 season.

Offensively, the Giants received terrific performances from their wide receiving corps. Entering the game, the Eagles were asked about how they would slow down Victor Cruz, and they were able to do so, limiting him to just 48 receiving yards. However, Hakeem Nicks (nine catches for 142 yards) and Rueben Randle (96 yards, two touchdowns) each had big days. Eli Manning threw for 334 yards, but he was once again bitten by the turnover bug, something that plagued him all season long. He was intercepted three times, including a spectacular one-handed takeaway by Brandon Boykin.

The key for the Eagles in this year's matchup at MetLife Stadium may just be their ability to shut down the Giants' running game. New York added running backs Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams to a group that already includes David Wilson and Peyton Hillis. If all of those backs can stay healthy, New York could feature a strong running game in 2014. Eagles players like Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans will need to be all over the field, and young defensive linemen like Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton will need to set the edge and win the battle at the line of scrimmage. If that happens, the Eagles could find themselves leaving New Jersey victorious for the second consecutive season.

But there is so much unknown that will unfold over the next few months. We can't wait to see how it all turns out.

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