Week 15 Matchup Preview: Eagles-Giants showdown for division crown

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

It will be another heated battle this week when the Eagles go to New Meadowlands Stadium to take on the Giants. (Getty)

It’s Week 15 in the NFL and things are getting heated as many teams are alive in the playoff hunt. This week is no exception as the longest rivalry in the NFC East hits center stage Sunday afternoon at the New Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey. The 9-4 Eagles travel down I-95 to take on the 9-4 New York Giants in a game that will give the winner the inside edge on claiming the NFC East crown. The Eagles have won five of their last six games including last week’s 30-27 win over other NFC East rival, Dallas Cowboys and also have won five straight meetings over the G-Men dating back to 2008. The Giants come into this game on a three game winning streak outscoring their opponents 76-30, and their last lost came in Philly against the Eagles 27-17 in Week 12. This game will be the highlight of the afternoon as when these two get together it’s always a grudge match and don’t expect anything different. It’s time to breakdown this epic showdown part two!

News and Notes

  • Line: Giants -3. O/U: 46.
  • Overall Series: Giants lead the series 83-73-2
  • Streak: Eagles have won the last five meetings over the Giants
  • Reid vs Giants: 12-11

Last Meeting: Week 11, Nov. 21, 2010 — A hard fought battle between these two bitter rivals but in the end the Eagles defense stepped up forcing five Giant turnovers. But it came down to the end for the Eagles on a 4th down play call where Michael Vick bobbled the snap and somehow pitched it to Lesean Mccoy where he then took it 50 yards to the house to give the Eagles the lead and they never looked back. The Eagles won 27-17.

EAGLES                   GIANTS

28.8 (2nd) Points 25.3 (7th)

402.8 (1st) Total Offense 385.4 (4th)

146.1 (5th) Rushing Offense 148.3 (4th)

256.8 (6th) Passing Offense 237.1 (12th)

23.7 (20th) Points Allowed 19.2 (9th)

327.8 (12th) Total Defense 281.1 (2nd)

103.5 (11th) Rushing Defense 95.2 (5th)

224.3 (17th) Passing Defense 185.9 (2nd)

41.48 (9th) 3rd Down Offense % 35.40 (23rd)

37.42 (14th) 3rd Down Defense % 30.81 (1st)

+15 (2nd) Turnover Ratio -2 (t-16th)

Injury Report:

Eagles: Questionable- WR Desean Jackson (foot); CB Asante Samuel (knee); RT Winston Justice (knee).

Giants: Questionable- G Shawn Andrews (Back); LB Michael Boley (Shoulder); C Shaun O’Hara (foot); WR Devin Thomas (hamstring). Probable: WR Mario Manningham (hip).

Three Keys to Victory

  • Win the turnover battle
  • Control Giants running game
  • Continue red zone offense success

When Eagles Have the Ball…

The Eagles offense has a tough challenge this week, going up against New York’s stingy defense. A couple of weeks ago when the two met, the Giants gave the Eagles some troubles containing their offensive weapon, quarterback Michael Vick.

Vick had no time to get the ball to his arsenal of weapons like WR Jeremy Maclin and WR Desean Jackson, as he had pressure right in his face. He has shown this season to avoid the pressure and make the big plays with his legs but the last matchup was not the case as he was bottled up. He was held to just 34 yards on 11 carries. The Giants front seven are going to remember that and try to execute again. The Eagles offensive line has to play better because the Giants front seven rotation has a lot of speed off the edges and are tough to handle. They could have the best defensive end depth in the NFL.

The Giants have the bookends Jason Tuck and and Osi Umenyiora off the edges. But a surprise of late is the rookie Jason Pierre Paul who has multi-sack games in two of last three games. The Giants are up there in getting to the quarterback a total of 39 sacks. 22.5 of those sacks have been produced by the big three. The Eagles offensive line need to come prepared and give Vick the time he needs otherwise it’s going to be a long day for this offense.

The Eagles need to get this passing game going and by doing that they need to get quick releases and a lot of short passing game and screens and hope for yards after the catch. They can get that with these elusive and speedy receivers they have. The line has played mediocre at best and haven’t given him any time to throw the football when Vick drops back. This Giants secondary isn’t very good even though the numbers show they have done a good job containing the pass. But it has been the success of the pass rush disrupting the rhythm of the passer and if they get rid of the football early with the short passing game they take that away.

The Eagles to get the win need to jump start out of the gate and get the big early lead. Last time the Eagles had a 13 point lead and blew it. They need to be more consistent and get in a rhythm. The key for this team is continuing drives as the Giants are the top-ranked defense on third down, only allowing the opposition to convert on about 30% of the time. Last time they had troubles taking advantage of opportunities with the short field set up by the defense.

Since the last game, the Eagles have done tremendously better in the red zone. They need to continue that success because what almost haunt them last time was settling for field goals down inside the 20 where they need to punch it in for touchdowns with most of those with the short field. The last two games the Eagles have done well, converting on about 60%. They need to get the tempo in their favor and control the game and by doing that they need to attack the Giants with their running game and RB Lesean Mccoy.

McCoy is having a Pro Bowl year with his versatility catching and running with the football but last time the Giants had his number as he only had five total yards in the first half. The second half was another story. He finished the game with 111 yards and the eventual game winning touchdown. If they can run the ball effectively picking up yardage and moving the chains, that is a big plus for the Eagles and takes a load of Vick. Normally Coach Andy Reid would avoid the run if it wasn’t working and go pass heavy. That isn’t the case of late.

Reid has come along to stick with his guns and has the faith in McCoy to get the job done like last week with the Cowboys. With 4:22 left in the game only up three the Eagles pounded the rock with Mccoy after struggling early on and sealed the Eagles victory. If the Eagles continue this style of play calling they are going to be tough to contain as defenses won’t know what’s coming. If he continues this trend the Eagles offense is going to be dynamic.

It’s going to be a tough challenge for both teams. The Eagles are the top ranked offense in the league and are the only team in the top 10 in both passing and rushing offense. They are putting up close to 30 points a game which is second best in the NFL. The Giants come in top ten in all defensive categories. They have been forcing offenses to make mistakes and turn the ball over. That is one thing the Eagles can’t do and that is give the ball back to the Giants. The Eagles were flawless earlier in the season but of lately have been turning it over a lot more. This matchup is a battle of a high power offense and a stingy defense and it’s tough to say which will have the upper hand.

Edge: Giants- The Eagles could be without RT Winston Justice again, meaning King Dunlap will be blocking Vick’s blindside. With this Giant’s pass rush it is going to be tough for Vick to get any time to deliver the football. Last game they contained him and gave him havoc. Vick is getting hit too much and the Eagles need to establish an efficient running game to keep this Giant defense on their heals. They need to move the ball effectively moving the chains and wear this defense down. If the Eagles can do that them they have a chance.

When Eagles are on Defense…

If the Eagles defense gets the success they had last game against the Giants, then it is going to be a good day for Eagles fans. Last game the Eagles doomed the Giants by forcing five turnovers in the game. They just completely dominated in all phases of the game.

They controlled Eli Manning and got pressure on him forcing him to get rid of the ball early and throwing it into coverage with three interceptions. And they just dominated the Giants pound and ground rushing attack. RB Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs were limited to just 39 total rushing yards when the Giants all season long have success running the football. They were unable to move the chains only picking up 13 total first downs but were 5-11 on third down which is big.

This time around they are going to need the same success. New York is known to run the football on early downs and the Eagles need to contain that putting the Giants in 3rd and long situations where they need to pass to pick up the first down. The Eagles are without LB Stewart Bradley and will go with rookie LB Jamar Chaney to start in the middle. He is going to play a huge part if the Eagles control the run. If he plays well, it would be a big plus for the Eagles because when Manning is under pressure this season has struggled and if the Eagles can get a pass rush back there and force him to deliver early, good things can happen. He leads the league in interceptions with 19. But to get that rush this defensive line rotation has to play spectacular.

The Giants have only given up 13 sacks all year long. The Eagles are down a defensive end with Brandon Graham done for the year, Trent Cole, Juqua Parker and the rest of this line need to step it up and get the pressure they need. Even if they don’t get the sack but disrupt his throwing motion will be big. This offensive line gives Manning the time he needs but are banged up.

Also Eli will be without one of his favorite targets again. WR Steve Smith is out for the season after re-aggravating his knee last week and also WR Mario Manningham is banged up but will get the go and play Sunday. With Hakeem Nicks and Manningham the Eagles secondary is going to have troubles containing them as they have been without their playmaking corner Asante Samuel and have been getting shredded. The Eagles are giving up over 270 yards a game and also eight touchdown passes. Luckily for this secondary Samuel could return this weekend as he is questionable but did practice most of the week taking the needed reps to move forward and play. If Samuel plays this is a big boost for this defense with that playmaking ability that they have been missing.

That turnover differential is big. Right now the Eagles are +15, which is second best in the league. If this defense forces the amount of turnovers as last game and gives the offense the short field it will be huge for this team and eventually getting the win in the end. The Eagles are 9-1 this season when they win the turnover battle.

This Giants offense is very good as well up near the top in most offensive categories including red zone efficiency. The Eagles are the worst red zone defense in the NFL. All year long they have struggled giving up close to 70% of offense’s trips resulting in touchdowns. The defense needs to make a stop when the time comes to win this game for the Eagles.

The Eagles defense has come along. A lot of injuries have plagued this team throughout the year but have played well enough to put this team in a position to make a playoff run. They still have some holes and need to get them fixed before they can go deep in the playoffs.

This will be a good challenge for this defense this week as the Giants’ offense has been running on all cylinders since they lost to the Eagles. This running game has been fantastic with Bradshaw and Jacobs and it is going to be interesting to see how this defense can contain it.

Edge: Eagles- The Eagles defense does have a lot of holes on this squad like the red zone and ability to stop the pass but the one strength they have had for most of the year and that is stopping the running game. That is what the Giants are known for is pounding the rock on the ground wearing the defense down and keeping opposing offenses off the field. They take the game in their hands and control it. But the Eagles have only given up one 100 yard rusher all year long and have been stout against the running game. I don’t see it any different. The loss of LB Stewart Bradley will be big for defensive play calling but his play was mediocre at best this year. If the Eagles can get back Asante Samuel they are in good shape to contain this Giants’ offense. They have to make big plays and not give the big play up.

Intangibles: Eagles- The Giants are coming off a short week after the elements played a factor in Minnesota. They had less time to prepare for the Eagles this week. But they are on a three game winning streak. The Eagles have had the Giants’ number, winning five straight meetings over the G-men. And come into this game on a two game winning streak.

Prediction: Eagles 31-27- I’m sad to say but the streak isn’t coming to the end. Until the Giants show me they can beat the Eagles I have to take Philly. The Eagles will win their six straight over the Giants. The Giants are banged up offensively and the Eagles are most likely getting back playmaker CB Asante Samuel. I feel the Eagles will continue their success on the ground and control the tempo in their favor which will open the plays in the passing game to spread the ball around. The Eagles will get that one big play to shift the momentum into their favor and win this game. The Eagles will improve to 10-4, taking the lead in the NFC East and control their own destiny.

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