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Keys To The Game

If the Eagles are going to sweep the season series from the Giants, here are the keys to the game ...

Where's Steve Smith? – The Giants feed the ball to the wide receiver on third downs. They line him up outside. They also put him in the slot. Smith burned Joselio Hanson a couple of times in the first meeting. Sean McDermott actually slid Sheldon Brown inside a few times to try and cover Smith. The Eagles have got to find a way to cover him.

Red Zone – We talk about this basically every week. If the Giants are going to play a lot of Cover 2 that means we're less likely to have long touchdowns. If we have drives that go into the red zone we must find a way to come up with touchdowns. The Giants are due for a breakout game on offense. If it happens Sunday night, we'll need as many points as possible.

Closing Speed – In the first meeting we got good pressure on Eli Manning, but didn't get a lot of sacks. He will hold the ball to the last possible second and then get the pass off. It is absolutely maddening. We need to do a better job of wrapping him up or getting him to the ground. Being close to him isn't good enough.

Clean Pocket – If we block the G-men, Donovan McNabb and the skill players will put up some points. We need the line to block well. We need the backs and tight ends to also do a good job. Defensive backs attacking from the slot are a concern for me.

Tackle Hixon – Domenik Hixon scored a touchdown on a punt return for the Giants last week. Dallas did a terrible job of tackling on the play. Terrible. Hixon is talented, but anyone could have scored with the bad effort on that play. We need our coverage players to get to Hixon and make clean tackles. He's dangerous on kickoffs and punts. Make the Giants offense drive the long field.

Third Down efficiency – The Giants had a hard time stopping Dallas last week on third downs. The Giants had a hard time stopping the Eagles in the first game as well. At one point, we were 5-for-8. That's not efficient. It's crazy. I don't expect us to be quite that good, but we need to take advantage of their defense's third down issues. One way to stop Manning and Brandon Jacobs is to keep them on the sideline watching McNabb and McCoy.

To read more about how the Giants kept their season alive last week and what a win this week would mean for the Eagles, check out my complete Fan-Demonium column.

-- Posted by Tommy Lawlor, 11:55 p.m., December 12

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