The 1-1 Eagles and 1-1 Giants go at it at Lincoln Financial Field and the questions ahead as the New York media descends upon the NovaCare Complex will be interesting, to say the least.
In the last meeting, back on December 10, 2010, DeSean Jackson capped a spectacular fourth-quarter rally wiith a last-play punt return for a touchdown as the Eagles toppled New York. It was an all-time game, a remarkable comeback from 21 points down in the fourth quarter and it wsa, unfortunately, the final win of the season for the Eagles.
Both the Eagles and Giants stumbled down the stretch as New York missed the playoffs and the Eagles were a one-and-done team in losing to Green Bay in the Wild Card round of the postseason.
Now, the storylines are set. You can book that you will read about the following this week ...
HOW IMPORTANT IS THE REVENGE FACTOR ON SUNDAY?
Certainly, the Giants are still smarting from that come-from-ahead loss in December. They dominated the Eagles for 52 minutes, only to give up four touchdowns in the improbable game.
How much does head coach Tom Coughlin use that game as motivation for this game? It's hard to believe that there is any added motivation needed for an NFC East game, as Coughlin has already said this week, but what happens behind closed doors?
The truth is, these teams don't like each other. Running back LeSean McCoy got into a Twitter war with Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora in the spring, and Umenyiora is primed to return to practice this week after missing two games with a knee injury. Also involved in that Tweetfest was wide receiver Steve Smith, who is now an Eagle. Which brings us to ...
THE SMITH FACTOR IN EAGLES OFFENSE
Smith signed with the Eagles as an unrestricted free agent and contributed a pair of catches on Sunday night in Atlanta. Expect him to be more and more integrated into the scheme with each passing week.
And expect the New York reporters to hound Smith all week to try to get him to say something inflammatory about the Giants. Smith has been around long enough to know the game, and he is very likely to keep quiet. That is his nature, anyway.
Smith's presence on the field is far more important, anyway. When the Eagles go with four wide receivers, every defense is challenged to cover them. If the offensive line gives Michael Vick time to throw, he will have a lot of opportunities to make big plays.
Speaking of Vick ...
WHO PLAYS QB FOR EAGLES?
Vick suffered a concussion on Sunday night, you may have heard. So there is the fairly large question about who plays quarterback for the Eagles in the NFC East opener and the home opener this season.
If Vick practices Wednesday, then obviously there is a good chance he will be ready to go on Sunday. But if Vick doesn't work on Wednesday, or even on Thursday, he could still get under center for the Giants.
Vince Young is recovering from his knee injury and is a question mark as well. Mike Kafka, the second-year man who played well on Sunday night, is the only 100 percent healthy quarterback on the roster.
We shall see. This is a story that won't go away until Sunday.
WHAT ARE THE PRIME MATCHUPS AGAINST NEW YORK?
- How will the offensive line perform against New York's outstanding pass rush? With or without Umenyiora, the Giants are outstanding up front. The Eagles will be challenged.
- Is McCoy going to be a marked man? Isn't he always?
- Can the Eagles defense stop the run consistently? New York's offense always plays well against Philadelphia and the tandem of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs is as good a 1-2 punch as there is in the league.
- Is the Giants' injury-depleted secondary capable of covering the Eagles' talented group of wide receivers? You can bet that the Eagles will, at times, try to spread things out and throw the ball around. That's what they do best, no matter who is playing quarterback. The Giants are thin at cornerback after a rash of injuries. Look for a lot of blitzing from outstanding Giants safety Antrel Rolle.
- No matter the record, this is an NFC East game and the line of scrimmage matters most. The Eagles have injuries to defensive ends Darryl Tapp (pectoral muscle) and Juqua Parker (high ankle sprain) to consider. Are they stout enough against an agile and well-schooled Giants blocking scheme?