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.
|Eagles Projected Starting Lineup|
|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|
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, though Nicks is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game. 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. Likely to play a lot in Nicks' likely absence is Ramses Barden, the 6-6 wideout who 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.
|Giants Projected Starting Lineup|
|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|
CBs Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Brandon Boykin vs. Giants WR Victor Cruz
With the late demotion of Hakeem Nicks to doubtful, Victor Cruz shines in the spotlight for the Eagles' secondary. The Eagles won't sleep on Ramses Barden, who broke out last week with a 138-yard performance last week, but Cruz remains the big-play receiver for the Giants. Cruz broke out himself last year in his first game at Lincoln Financial Field, so the Eagles, especially Asomugha, will be plenty motivated to shut down the salsa dancer. When the Giants go three wide, likely with Domenik Hixon, Cruz is likely to line up in the slot, where he could be covered by Boykin, the rookie nickel back for the Eagles.
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.