The Eagles already were able to down the New York Giants at home once this season, and now they head into New Meadowlands to play the Giants on the road. This is arguably the biggest game of the season for both teams, and it has playoff implications. The Eagles have been able to beat the Giants five games straight, one of those being in the post season.
Philadelphia enters the game at (9-5) and first place in the NFC East, and holding the lead to get into the post season. Sitting with three wins in the NFC East, and only one loss. The Eagles are rolling, and are coming off a close win in Dallas last week.
The Giants are also (9-5) and in a close second in the NFC East. The Giants are behind the Eagles due to their two division losses, and with a win on Sunday could take the lead in the playoff race. Luckily, the Giants are forced to prepare for this game on a short week due to the Vikings’ stadium issues.
This is going to be a huge game, and the Eagles and Giants match up in week 11 was a narrow Philadelphia win. That was in Philadelphia, and it is going to be an even more difficult task now that the Eagles are on the road.
Here are five keys to an Eagles win in New York:
5. Establish a Rushing Game- For Play-Action
This is going to be a defensive game, as the Giants still have one of the best defenses in the NFL, just behind San Diego at number two. In the last matchup, the Giants defense did an excellent job of containing Michael Vick and the rushing game, forcing the Eagles to rely entirely on the pass.
Considering it is Andy Reid, that’s not much more than usual.
But, there is a trend going on in the Eagles past few games. When the ball is handed off to LeSean McCoy, not only does he usually gain decent yardage, it opens up the play-action pass.
When a team is playing a defense as solid as the Giants, all doors need to be opened to gain yards and keep the ball moving. McCoy has shown that he can get the job done of the ground, and as soon as the defense starts to lean, the Eagles go over the top for some big passing plays.
The problem with the Eagles, they are trying to run the play-action without establishing the rushing game first. This type of play may have worked against non-agressive defenses, but the Giants defense is fast and incredibly aggressive.
Andy Reid is a smart coach. I’m just not sure why he is thinking defenses will bite on the play-action, when the ball has not been handed off once the entire game?
Either way, the rushing game with McCoy will be an effective tool against this tough Giants defense.
4. Take Some Shots Down The Field
Michael Vick has a cannon.
For several games straight now, the Eagles have opened with a deep shot down the field, and it has had enormous success. The Jackson and Vick combo deep down the field is almost unstoppable, just because of the arm strength and the speed.
The opening play is not the only time should try to throw the ball deep. There is still the rest of the game to take some chances down the field. The Eagles have one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL, and they have this big play opportunity all four quarters.
Vick needs to test these Giants safeties and see if they can match the speed and athleticism of his receivers. This is a tough secondary, and it is showing that no QB wants to test them on the deep pass. This needs to change when Vick lines up with Jackson and Jeremy Maclin flanking him on each of his sides.
This is also a great way for the Eagles to jump out to an early lead and help quiet down that rocking New York crowd.
DeSean- Get ready to turn on those jets.
3. The Offensive Line Must Protect Michael Vick
The Eagles offensive line has done an absolutely terrible job protecting Michael Vick over the past few weeks. Not only is their almost instant pressure, but Vick usually takes a hit after he throws the ball and finds himself on the turf on most plays.
During the last Giants game, there was some serious hits that Vick took that made most Eagles fans hold their breath. Since Vick’s rib injury earlier in the season, it would seem that protecting him would be a top priority.
The Eagles offensive line must step up. They are playing a brutal Giants defensive line that has been able to get QB’s on the ground better than anyone in the NFL. Currently tied for first in the NFL, with a massive 39 sacks this season.
This is going to be a tough game for this Eagles offensive line, and they need to prove that they are able to protect Vick. Through this season, Vick has shown that he is willing to stand in the pocket and take the hit.
That needs to change to, Vick can stand in the pocket and make the pass, but just not take a hit.
Someone please block Justin Tuck this time around.
2. Jamar Chaney Needs To Prove Himself
Last week when the Eagles were playing Dallas, Stewart Bradley went down with another injury this season and is more than likely done for the year. This leaves the MLB position open to two different players, rookie Jamar Chaney and Moise Fokou.
With Chaney penciled in as the second string player. He is now the starter.
With Bradley going down, this is a huge loss to the Eagles defense. Especially in regards to the Eagles rushing defense. This is a double whammy to the Eagles defense, as the Giants have begin to develop their nasty rushing attack late in the season.
So this means that a lot of the pressure is going to be placed squarely on the shoulders of Eagles rookie, Chaney.
Chaney has shown some very impressive tackles and coverage so far this season, but this will be his first career start. Unfortunately, it’s his first career start in the Eagles biggest game of the season.
Chaney will have to guard against the combo of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw the entire game, but also has to cover against Kevin Boss in the passing game.
Hopefully, Chaney is better in coverage than Bradley has been this season.
1. Force Turnovers
In the Eagles vs Giants last game, the Eagles defense forced five turnovers.
You could make the case that the only reason the Eagles won that game was due strictly to the turnovers by the Giants. That last fumble by Eli Manning was essentially the play that sealed the game for the Eagles.
However, it’s hard to lose a game in the NFL when your defense is able to force five turnovers.
No matter how you look at it, the Eagles defense needs to do this again. With the way the Giants defense had been playing there is almost no way to win the game without some turnovers.
The Eagles defense is definitely capable of doing this, and Manning has been throwing interceptions like it’s his job. Not to mention, Bradshaw has had a serious case of the “fumbles” this season, and the Eagles were able to exploit that in their last game.
Without any turnovers, the Giants will win this game with little difficulty.
How many times have we seen a playoff deciding game come between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants?
This is a must win game for both teams, and you know it’s going to be close all the way through. It was a great matchup earlier in the season and that shouldn’t change when playoff hopes are on the line.
This may be the best game of the weekend.
I’m thinking that the Eagles just have the Giants number. They have won five straight on them, and it would be surprising to see a loss in such a critical part of the season. The Eagles have been on fire as this season has entered the final weeks, and Michael Vick has been the leader of that.
The Giants may contain Vick, but the Eagles are just to much to handle. The Giants injuries and their turnovers will catch up with them by the end of the game.
My Prediction: Eagles 34 Giants 31