EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. --I have a statistic that tells you why there is no doubt the Eagles will win their sixth consecutive game against the Giants. I also have a number that suggests that perhaps it won't be such a no-brainer. Who cares about the numbers? The Eagles and the Giants are set to play an epic battle, the game of the year, the war for supremacy in the NFC East. And I have some things to say ...
Asante Samuel should play after missing three games and his presence is a huge plus for the defense. Samuel knows how to read Eli Manning and anticipate his throws, and we have all seen how little teams throw his way. I imagine that Dimitri Patterson will see more of Hakeem Nicks than will Samuel, but Samuel is going to have a chance or two to make a play. And, by the way, Derek Hagan is a threat here. He is going to play more than is Mario Manningham and he runs good routes and has some third-down ability.
- What to expect from DeSean Jackson? He is going to play, and he is going to play his game. Now, the Eagles are going to monitor Jackson's sprained foot, but there is no way Jackson would miss a game like this. The Giants are going to have to account for Jackson's speed and his play-making skills. Will the Eagles start the game with a deep pass down the field to Jackson? Could it possibly work again?
- The expectation is that King Dunlap starts at right tackle in place of Winston Justice, who made the trip to North Jersey. Justice will at least work out in the morning and the Eagles will decide from there. Dunlap has a huge challenge with Justin Tuck, so it is going to be interesting to see how Dunlap's range translates into success against Tuck. Tuck has moves, he has experience and his combination of speed and power will prove to be a litmus test for Dunlap.
- Can the Giants linebackers cover tight end Brent Celek? Maybe it's time to get him into the passing game in a big way. And what about the screen game to LeSean McCoy? It will be a tall task for New York's linebackers. I expect the Giants to use three safeties and two linebackers a lot of the time in this game.
- All that is being written and said up here is that the Giants are looking to "take out" Michael Vick. Doesn't every team?
- In a very strong way, I am excited to see rookie Jamar Chaney at middle linebacker. Stewart Bradley dominated against New Orleans in his first start, in 1997 against the Saints, and maybe Chaney can do the same. Chaney is not the rangy guy that Bradley is, but Chaney runs very well and is a bright guy and he has had a taste of play at this tempo. A strong showing could turn the game in the Eagles' favor, because everyone expects the Giants to look to establish the run right away.
- What are the Eagles going to do to generate a pass rush to make Eli Manning hurry some throws? This is so critical. The four-man pass rush needs to be improved and the Eagles are going against an offensive line that is in much better health than the first time around. I think Derrick Burgess will get 10-15 snaps and he needs to get off the ball quickly and go. Trent Cole wasn't himself against Dallas, so he needs a bounce-back game. Juqua Parker must hit Manning. That front four really has to come through. In the back of my mind, I think the Giants are going to come out throwing to establish the passing game and set up the run.
- Big game for Ernie Sims, who has to play disciplined football as the Giants use play-action and bootlegs and some screen passes to back off the Eagles' blitz game. Sims is making plays for this defense with his speed and aggressiveness. He has to contain in this game and not allow Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw to get outside for big gains in the running game.
- My key stat will be, as always, turnover ratio. The Eagles have a plus-15 this year and the Giants are at minus-2. That has to mean something, doesn't it?
- The Giants get back center Shaun O'Hara, who has missed six games and who saw only limited time in practice this week. Interesting to see how sharp he is early in the game. I think seeing a combination of Mike Patterson and Antonio Dixon is going to cause O'Hara some problems.
- No problem with the weather, as it stands now. Temperatures should be in the 30s with no snow. The wind, though, is another question. David Akers will be out kicking early in warmups.
- Jorrick Calvin is going to have a big return. I feel it. Don't know why, but I feel it.
- The defense must cover the screen pass to the wide receivers. New York does not want to put Manning in a tough spot throwing the ball, and it wouldn't surprise me to see the Giants throw those screens and to run at Samuel to force him to make some tackles and be physical.
- Will there be any Eagles fans in the house? I hope so. This is going to be a loud stadium. Remember, though, that Tennessee and Dallas won here, and Jacksonville had the game all but won. Eagles fan, be loud and be proud. The team needs you.