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Game Preview: Giants-Eagles

This game, more than any other, is the one Eagles fans have had circled on their calendars. Giants-Eagles is always guaranteed to be must-see football, and with the Giants coming off another Super Bowl championship, there's no question the Eagles have been looking forward to rudely welcoming their rivals into Lincoln Financial Field. But the anticipation and fervor for this game was multiplied exponentially when the Eagles announced that Brian Dawkins would have his number retired at halftime of the Sunday Night Football NFC East showdown. So it can be said with utmost certainty that the home crowd will be in an absolute frenzy when the Eagles and Giants face off on national television under the Lincoln Financial Field lights.

The Eagles, of course, are coming off a disappointing loss last week on the road to the Arizona Cardinals. Turnovers were a costly problem once again as the Eagles lead the league with 12 giveaways through three games. Michael Vick lost two fumbles last week, and, behind an unsettled offensive line, he's sure to be under pressure once again by the formidable Giants front four. But the Eagles also expect to regain the services of Jeremy Maclin, who missed last week's game with a hip contusion. Since last November, the Eagles are 7-0 in games in which they've had Maclin's services and are 0-3 in games which Maclin has missed. The key for the offense will be to limit the mistakes. To best explain how good the Eagles offense can be, consider the disparity between their ranks in total yardage (fifth) and points scored (tied for 31st).

Meanwhile, the Giants are on a two-game winning streak after losing the opener at home to the Dallas Cowboys. Last week, on Thursday Night Football, the Giants went down to Carolina and demolished the Panthers 36-7. What made the win all the more impressive is that the Giants were missing several key players, including starting wide receiver Hakeem Nicks and running back Ahmad Bradshaw. No worries though, as backup running back Andre Brown ran for 113 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. And unfortunately for the Eagles, with extra time in between games, the Giants will be healthy coming into Philadelphia. It all makes for what will certainly be an electric atmosphere and should be one of the most memorable games of the season. The importance of this head-to-head is all the more important considering that the two teams won't meet again until the regular season finale in Week 17.

Last Time They Met: November 20, 2011 – Eagles 17, Giants 10

Vince Young led the Eagles on an 18-play, 80-yard drive that culminated in the go-ahead 8-yard touchdown pass to Riley Cooper with just 2:45 remaining in the game to stun the Giants. On that drive, the Eagles converted six third downs. Jason Babin sealed the win with a sack and forced fumble that was recovered by Derek Landri.

When The Eagles Have The Ball:

It's becoming a tired refrain but there's no other way to describe the remedy for the Eagles offense – cut down on the turnovers. To be fair, the Eagles' giveaways have fallen in each of the first three games this year, but that regression has been from five to four to three. With 12 turnovers through three games, the Eagles lead the league in the category, and it's haunted the team thus far. And yet, at 2-1, there is still much hope for an offense that ranks fifth in the league in total yardage. With Jeremy Maclin likely returning to the lineup, Michael Vick will have his full complement of weapons. Chief among those weapons is running back LeSean McCoy, who will be itching to get his share of touches after only 13 carries last week against the Cardinals. McCoy has a history against the Giants, having topped the 100-yard rushing mark in three of his last four games against the Giants. It's also a personal rivalry for McCoy, who has clashed with Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora enough that it's become a national storyline heading into this game.

The focus for the Eagles on offense though will be giving Vick enough time to distribute the ball to his various weapons. With King Dunlap still not quite 100 percent in his recovery from a hamstring strain, Demetress Bell may return to the left tackle spot he filled against the Cardinals. If so, he'd join Dallas Reynolds as the relative newcomers on an offensive line that allowed Vick to be sacked five times last week. Of course, the offensive line will have their work cut out for them against the vaunted Giants pass rush, which sometimes features as many as four defensive ends in their so-called "NASCAR package." Umenyiora joins Justin Tuck and, most prominently, Jason Pierre-Paul among the edge rushers the Eagles will have to worry about.

But the Giants defense has holes as well. In fact, through three games, the Giants have allowed 6.51 yards per play on defense, which ranks 31st in the entire league. Corey Webster and second-year man Prince Amukamara man the outside corner spots, and they'll have to contend with Jackson and Maclin deep. This could be another opportunity for tight end Brent Celek, the team's leading receiver this season, to make a big impact.

Tale Of The Tape (2012 Stats)
Giants Eagles
Record 2-1 2-1
Points Scored Per Game 31.3 (T-3rd in NFL) 15.7 (T-31)
Total Yards Per Game 426.0 (3) 416.7 (5)
Rushing Yards Per Game 100.3 (16) 135.0 (8)
Passing Yards Per Game 325.7 (2) 281.7 (8)
Points Allowed Per Game 21.7 (T-11) 22.0 (T-13)
Total Yards Allowed Per Game 355.7 (18) 275.7 (5)
Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game 94.0 (10) 103.0 (16)
Passing Yards Allowed Per Game 261.7 (T-22) 172.7 (3)
Turnover Ratio +4 (T-3) -6 (T-30)

When The Giants Have The Ball

Let's face it. It's come to the point where when you think of the Giants, you think of the quarterback Eli Manning.

Manning bounced back from a Week 1 loss to the Cowboys by throwing for a career-high 510 yards and three touchdowns in a thrilling 41-34 come-from-behind win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was Manning's 22nd fourth-quarter comeback, according to Pro Football Reference. Manning made the fourth-quarter comeback a regular occurrence with a total of seven in 2011, including two in the playoffs on the way to the Super Bowl.

Dating back to his rookie season of 2004, Manning has faced the Eagles 16 times in the regular season and has completed 59 percent of his passes for 3,632 yards. He has thrown 27 touchdowns against 17 interceptions. The Eagles have sacked him 38 times and Manning has lost four fumbles.

As good as he was in the clutch in 2011, Manning is off to a red hot start with 1,011 passing yards in the first three weeks of the season to lead the league. Manning came up just short of the 5,000-yard plateau in 2011, but is on pace early on to demolish that barrier.

It certainly helps that Manning has two of the league's top wide receivers in Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. Nicks is tied for 15th in the NFL in receiving yards despite missing the last game due to a foot injury. Nicks, who was the NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against Tampa Bay, is expected to play this Sunday night. Cruz had his breakout game last season at Lincoln Financial Field scoring the first two touchdowns of his career and posting the first of many 100-yard games. Cruz is sixth in the league with 279 receiving yards and has a trademark big-play, 80-yard touchdown. If these two weren't enough, Ramses Barden, the 6-6 wideout, stepped in for Nicks against Carolina and had nine catches for 138 yards in his first career start.

The running game was supposed to be bolstered by first-round draft pick David Wilson out of Virginia Tech. However, he fumbled early in the Week 1 loss to Dallas and has been hardly seen on offense since. He had just four snaps on offense in the Week 3 win in Carolina. Starter Ahmad Bradshaw missed the Panthers game recovering from a neck injury, but expects to play against the Eagles. Stepping up for the Giants has been Andre Brown, who had a career day rushing for 113 yards and two touchdowns against Carolina in what was his first career start. Brown was a former Giants draft pick who bounced around the league before landing on their practice squad last season.

At tight end, the Giants have been well known for turning gems out of nowhere. The latest example is Martellus Bennett, the physically gifted receiver who failed to maximize his talent in Dallas. A good blocker, Bennett had six catches for 73 yards and a score against the Panthers. With Nicks and Bradshaw returning, Bennett could be someone who shines with all of the attention paid towards the other weapons.

Up front, the Giants have a steady group anchored in the middle by former 49er David Baas. Together with right guard Chris Snee, these two form a solid run blocking duo which Cullen Jenkins and Cedric Thornton will have to account for. At tackle, former second-round pick Will Beatty has taken the job on the left side and Sean Locklear is on the right side as David Diehl recovers from a knee injury.

Eagles Projected Starting Lineup
Offense Defense
QB Michael Vick LDE Jason Babin
RB LeSean McCoy LDT Cullen Jenkins
FB Stanley Havili RDT Derek Landri
WR Jeremy Maclin RDE Trent Cole
LT Demetress Bell WILL LB Jamar Chaney
LG Evan Mathis MIKE LB DeMeco Ryans
C Dallas Reynolds SAM LB Mychal Kendricks
RG Danny Watkins LCB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
RT Todd Herremans RCB Nnamdi Asomugha
TE Brent Celek SS Nate Allen
WR DeSean Jackson FS Kurt Coleman

Key Matchups

CB Nnamdi Asomugha vs. Giants WRs Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz

One of the interesting pieces of the gameplan for the Eagles defense will be whether they match cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha against a specific Giants receiver. The Giants have two of the top receivers in the league in Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. The two have combined for 516 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns despite Nicks missing the team's last game with a lingering foot injury. The Eagles did a good job of containing Nicks last season, but Cruz had two 100-yard games and three touchdowns.

Eagles OTs vs. Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul

Jason Pierre-Paul had 16.5 sacks in 2011 and has picked up right where he left off with 1.5 sacks in the 2012 season. The trouble gameplanning for the 6-5, 278-pound All-Pro is that he'll move all over the defensive line. He'll line up at both end spots, but also come inside to help collapse the pocket if needed. If the Eagles are going to give Michael Vick the time he needs to throw the ball, the offensive line will need to account for Pierre-Paul at all times.

Giants Projected Starting Lineup
Offense Defense
QB Eli Manning LDE Justin Tuck
RB Ahmad Bradshaw LDT Linval Joseph
FB Henry Hynoski RDT Rocky Bernard
WR Victor Cruz RDE Jason Pierre-Paul
LT Will Beatty SLB Mathias Kiwanuka
LG Kevin Boothe MLB Chase Blackburn
C David Baas WLB Michael Boley
RG Chris Snee LCB Corey Webster
RT Sean Locklear RCB Prince Amukamara
TE Martellus Bennett SS Kenny Phillips
WR Ramses Barden FS Antrel Rolle

Players To Watch

RB LeSean McCoy

The All-Pro running back has enjoyed some of his finer games against the New York Giants. LeSean McCoy has rushed for 100 yards or more in a game 10 times in his career and three of them have come against the Giants including the home contest last season. After a record-setting 2011 campaign, McCoy is among the league leaders in rushing yards with 261 and sports a hefty 4.5 yards per carry average. The Giants have allowed an average of 94.0 rushing yards per game in their first three contests.

QB Eli Manning

The reigning Super Bowl MVP is off to another blistering start in 2012 with 1,011 passing yards in just three games. In the Giants' Week 2 come-from-behind win over Tampa Bay, Eli Manning threw for a career-high 510 yards and three touchdowns. Without top receiver Hakeem Nicks against the Panthers in Week 3, Manning connected with Ramses Barden nine times for 138 yards. After throwing for a career-high 4,933 yards last season, Manning is on pace to shatter that mark in 2012.

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