Week 10 Matchup Preview: Eagles looking for top spot in division

By JEFFREY WARNER
Staff Writer — jwarner@highhopesblog.com
_______

The Eagles offensive line has been better than expected this year, but can they protect QB Michael Vick long enough to overcome this Giant challenge? (Photo: Philly.com)

The Eagles have a very big game this week as their interstate rivals, the New York Giants, come to Lincoln Financial Field to play a game that could potentially decide the division. The rivals will battle for first place in the NFC East, as both teams currently sit at 6-3, and what better setting to have this game than under the spotlight of Sunday Night Football with the entire nation watching. The Eagles are coming off that magnificent record breaking 59-28 performance on Monday night against the Redskins. For the Giants, they come into this game with some motivation to prove to everyone that they are indeed an elite team in this league as they look to rebound after getting upset 33-20 by the Dallas Cowboys.

News and Notes

Line: Eagles -3

Overall Series: Giants Lead 82-72-2

Reid vs. Giants-11-11 record in Regular Season

Reid Vs Giants at Home-5-6 record

Streak-Eagles won four straight

Last Game — Eagles Prevail in Shootout 45-38:

It was a back and forth battle between these two rivals. The Eagles had no answer for Eli Manning, who had the game of his life with 391 yards and three touchdowns. But the Eagles had their own secret weapon — WR Desean Jackson. He had a brilliant performance racking up over 250 total yards and two touchdowns to help the Eagles squeak by the G-Men.

Tale of the Tape

GIANTS                                 EAGLES

26.2 (6th) Points Per Game 28.6 (2nd)

409.8 (2nd) Total Offense 400.2 (3rd)

146.9 (5th) Rushing Offense 151.1 (3rd)

262.9 (6th) Passing Offense 249.1 (9th)

21.4 (14th) Points Allowed 23.2 (22nd)

270.2 (1st) Total Defense 325.0 (11th)

83.3 (3rd) Rushing Defense 104.0 (12th)

186.9 (4th) Passing Defense 221.0 (16th)

37.61 (20th) 3rd Down Offense % 44.40 (5th)

28.95 (1st) 3rd Down Defense % 36.40 (11th)

-5 (t-24th) Turnover Ratio +12 (1st)

Injury Report

Eagles: Questionable — DE J. Parker (hip) T K. Dunlap (knee)

Giants: Out — FB M.Hedgecock (hamstring), T. D.Diehl (Hip), C. S.O’Hara (Foot), WR S.Smith (Pectoral); Questionable — T. S. Andrews

Three Keys to Victory

  • Michael Vick!
  • Control Giants Bradshaw/Jacobs
  • Give Vick Protection

Eagles Offense…

What team has a better offense right now than the Philadelphia Eagles? At this time no one is better than Philly. The Eagles put on a show on Monday Night Football, beating the Redskins 59-28, showing the country that Philly is the real deal. All of this success has been because of the incredible overall play by their starting QB Michael Vick.

Vick right now is the most dangerous player in the NFL, as he able to make plays with his feet and through the air. His versatility to extend plays is what makes him so lethal to opposing defenses. The Eagles QB is the number one passer in the league with a 115.1 passer rating and has been really efficient with the football. He has 15 total touchdowns and still no turnovers after 197 touches, which is best in the NFL. Vick has shown this season if given time he can be effective. He has been able to scan the field more, reading the defenses and looking at all his options instead of just tucking it and running, risking injury. His accurate, precision passing only putting it where his receivers can get it, has been tremendous. But Vick couldn’t be this successful if it wasn’t for the arsenal of weapons he has around him.

WR Desean Jackson has been awesome this year especially with Vick as QB. They have made a stellar duo that Eagles fans hope to see for years. And in the past he has been a Giant killer. In four games, he has recorded 13 receptions, 317 receiving yards, and a total of four scores. Also the Eagles have weapons like their touchdown leader WR Jeremy Maclin who has seven touchdowns this year. And the rest of the crew like Jason Avant, Brent Celek, Riley Cooper and others who all need to be accounted for as they all can make plays in the passing game.

The running game for the Eagles has been stellar. The Eagles are surprisingly the 3rd rank rushing attack putting up about 150 yards a game. Last week backup RB Jerome Harrison put up quite a game with over 100 yards and a touchdown. Also the versatile running back Lesean Mccoy has been really productive this year on the ground and in the passing game. Mccoy leads all RB’s with 46 receptions and he is averaging 4.6 yards a touch this season. He has a total of six touchdowns and is looking for more. The Eagles have options at RB now knowing what Harrison can do.

This Eagles offense is just too dangerous. They rank top ten in all offensive categories and are the second best scoring team in the NFL. They don’t turn the ball over often to give other teams opportunities to take advantage which is key in the NFL.

Giants Defense…

People feel that the Giants quite possibly have the best defense in the National Football League. They are the number one defense in total yards allowed and top five in all defensive categories except one. And that one is points allowed as they are giving up 21.4 points a game which is the middle of the pack at 14th best in the league. They have been really inconsistent regarding points allowed. One week they will shut down teams and the next will get manhandled. So yes this unit can be dangerous but they are not unbeatable. New York has have an unbelievable front four that all can get to the quarterback. They have a dangerous pass rushing duo with Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck, which combine for 12 of New York’s 24 sacks this season. Also have the run stopping machines with DT Chris Canty and Barry Coefield. The playmaking linebackers Michael Boley and Keith Bulliuck have a lot of speed to get to the edges and make plays. The Eagles offensive line has to be at their best if they want to control the Giants front seven with all this speed and talent.

But they are vulnerable in the secondary. The lack of depth they have and the inexperience could hurt the Giants. That’s why they brought in safety Antrel Rolle and he has been stellar making plays this season in the passing game and in the backfield but he is just one guy. Safety Deon Grant, Terrell Thomas and Kenny Phillips all can make plays but they are liability in pass coverage. They have been known to get behind the offense and get beat. They also could be without their best CB Corey Webster this week, who has not practice with a toe injury. So the Giants are struggling right now in the secondary.

But still defense isn’t like the Redskin’s D the Eagles played last week. The Giants are more aggressive when it comes to their blitz schemes and are dominate making plays. This Giants defense could be a handful for the Eagles offense with all the talent and speed they have all along this unit. The Eagles are a big play offense so the Giants are going to need to control them and limit the amount of big plays if want to win this football game.

Edge: Eagles- This is going to be a battle of a high power offense against a stingy aggressive defense. So something has to give. I feel with the Eagles having Michael Vick and the confidence right now on this Eagles team that they are going to be putting up points. The inconsistent play in the secondary is really going to hurt the G-men with Michael Vick’s ability to air out the football to his speedy receivers like Jackson, Maclin, and Mccoy. I feel the Giants will get pressure on Vick, however it will hurt them as his elusiveness will help him extend the play moving the football down field. The Eagles need to be consistent and wear down this Giants D by picking up first downs to control the tempo of the game and keep the Giants offense off the field.

Giants Offense…

This is a Giants team that has been known to pound the rock with their running game. The one two punch with RB Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs have been solid this season. Bradshaw has proven to be one of the upcoming backs in the league with over 1000 total yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns. Jacobs is the short yardage and goal line guy to move the chains. New York has been known to run the football and control the clock and gain momentum in their favor to try and win football games, but are without one of key blockers in the running game and that is FB Madison Hedgecock who is missing the game with a hamstring injury. This offensive attack has been very effective this year as the Giants are top five in rushing and are the second overall offense in the NFL. A team that puts up 26.2, points a game which is sixth best in the league with mainly behind a running attack and QB Eli Manning.

Manning is having one of his most productive years completing about 66% of his passes for over 2400 yards and 19 scores. The only downside to Manning is the amount of bad decisions he has made as he is up there in tops of the league with 13 interceptions. But he has a lot of weapons at his disposal.

Eli’s favorite target this season has been WR Hakeem Nicks. The 6’ 0” 250 pound receiver is very physical and tough to bring down in open space. He is having himself a Pro Bowl caliber season with over 700 yards receiving and is tied for the league with nine touchdown receptions. But they will be without their speed threat WR Steve Smith who is expected to be out until at least December with a torn pectoral muscle. Also WR Ramses Barden is out for the season. The Giants have to look to now Mario Manningham to step up and be productive. Last week against the Cowboys the former Michigan Wolverine had 10 catches for 91 yards and a score which is exactly what they want him to do week in and week out. They also are going to need WR Derek Hagan and Darius Reynaud to step in. Not only do they have a physical big receivers but a tough as nails tight end, Kevin Boss.

Boss has been very reliable but inconsistent as they were looking for a bigger role in this offense in the passing game for him but so far hasn’t been the case as he has only brought in 19 balls for about 300 yards and two touchdowns. But as a blocker he is one of the best in the league with his body size and strength to knock defenders over and make holes in the running game and passing game. They also have Travis Beckum who is a solid blocking tight end but its not just the tight ends but the offensive line.

This is an offensive line that has been known to be dominant and win the battle in the trenches and come out on top but at the moment is plague by injuries. Tackle David Diehl is out, center Shaun O’Hara is out, and tackle Shawn Andrews is questionable. So this unit has a lot of moving and shuffling around to get everyone ready to gel and get in a groove before game time. These guys have not worked a lot together as a unit so it’s interesting to see how they do against this Eagles D. They have only allowed Manning to get sacked 12 times this season. So overall this Giants offense can be dangerous but at the moment have a lot of holes and lack a lot of depth to see if these backups can fill in and get the job done.

Eagles Defense…

A unit that has always been known to make plays and get to the quarterback and that is exactly what they have been doing this season. Some people have some concerns with this Eagles defense and not completely sold on them yet as they do give up 23 points a game. But this could be the challenge they need to put the haters to rest.

Last week got to Redskin’s QB Donovan Mcnabb and forced three interceptions. With Defensive Coordinator Sean McDermott and his blitz schemes this Eagles’ D has been very productive. As always they are up there in top of the league in sacks behind a ferocious pass rush with Trent Cole leading the way. Cole, again has been productive as anyone with seven sacks and his versatility and speed has made him to make a lot of plays in the running game. DE Juqua Parker has also done a nice job. The 31 year old has five sacks on the year and continues to perform on getting to the quarterback. Also have first round selection Brandon Graham in the mix and Darryl Tapp.

They have also done a much better job in stopping the run against some of the premiere RB’s in the league. The main reason is they have DT Antonio Dixon in the middle of the line. With Dixon the Eagles are giving up less than 75 rushing yards a game which is going to be big in trying to accomplish this week. They are going to need Dixon and Patterson to clog the holes and not allow any room. DT Trevor Laws has continue to improve and make plays and then the linebackers like Stewart Bradley, Ernie Sims, and Akeem Jordan are very physical and have a lot of speed to get to the edges and take down the ball carrier. This is one talented front seven for the Eagles. Only thing the Eagles continue to lack is covering the tight end and have to try and stop an offense that tries to utilize that position in their offense.

The secondary is getting back safety Nate Allen after Kurt Coleman filled in nicely and the will also get back Ellis Hobbs who will not come off the bench after DImitri Patterson has performed very well not allowing any big plays and picking the ball off three times including a pick six. So this secondary is finally getting healthy and with all the playmakers on this unit like Quintin Mikell and CB Asante Samuel who has five interceptions this season, tied for second best, they should be fine. A area that was a strong concern in beginning looks like it might be one of the strengths now.

This Eagles D looks good on paper but this season has been inconsistent at times but are getting healthier and playing a lot better at the time that matters most. This is a big challenge for the Eagles and lets see how they play against one of the NFL’s top offenses.

Edge: Eagles — The Giants have a lot of fire power on offense but are just too banged up. They are missing key parts of that offensive line and without Steve Smith to stretch the field, which leaves Manning sitting there like a duck. The Giants are going to need to run the ball effectively if they want to win so the Eagles can’t get pressure on the quarterback and force him to make mistakes with the football, but the way the Eagles have been playing against the run, it highly seems unlikely. The Eagles are just too physical on defense and have fixed their problems of giving up the big play for the most part. Eagles will give up points but will make up for it with big turnovers.

Intangibles: Wash — The Eagles are coming off the short week but do have the home field advantage with the crowd behind them. Currently on a two game winning streak and Eagles Coach Andy Reid has been very effective with his play calling and has been well balanced. He is the better coach at this time but anything can change. In special teams Sav Rocca has not done well in cold and windy weather it’s a matter of field position. D.Jackson will have to play a big part in the return game setting up the Eagles offense.

The Giants have extra motivation to come out and win this game after the embarrassment they got losing to Dallas which is enough to overcome any challenge. They are determine to show the world they are the best and by beating one of the hottest teams in the league. Coach Tom Coughlin is a great motivator and will get his team ready for this game.

Prediction: Eagles win 31-21 — I have to go with the team with the hot hand right now and no player has been hotter than Michael Vick. Vick will continue to put on a show against this vulnerable secondary making plays on the run and in the passing game to his weapons like Jackson, Maclin and Mccoy as the Eagles D will get to Manning behind the injury plagued offensive line and force him to make mistakes with the football like he has all year long. The game will be close but one big play late will be the deciding factor to give the Eagles the win and first place in the NFC East.

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