EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - First place in the NFC East will be on the line when the Giants and Philadelphia Eagles tangle Sunday night in Lincoln Financial Field. Each team is 6-3 after division matchups last week – the Giants lost at home to the Dallas Cowboys, while the Eagles routed the Redskins, 59-28, in Washington Monday night. The Giants have won five of their last six games, while the Eagles have won four of their last five. Philadelphia has won the last four meetings, including one in the postseason. Last year, the Eagles won in the Linc, 40-17, and in the teams' final game in Giants Stadium, 45-38. The Giants lead the regular season series, 79-69-2, and the postseason series is tied, 2-2.
Philadelphia's offense is ranked third in the NFL, right behind the Giants, with an average of 400.2 yards a game. The Eagles are third in the league in rushing (151.1 yards per game) and first with an average of 5.4 yards per carry. They are ninth in the NFL with an average of 249.1 passing yards a game. Philadelphia is second in the league with an average of 28.6 points a game. The Eagles have only nine turnovers – tied for second-lowest in the NFL – and their plus-12 turnover differential is the league's best.
The Eagles set several team records in their romp over the Redskins, including their 592 net yards. Their 59 points was the second-highest total in franchise history, surpassed only by the 64 points they scored against the Cincinnati Reds in 1934.
Quarterback Michael Vick has been the catalyst for the Eagles' offensive surge. His 115.1 passer rating is the NFL's best and he has thrown 11 touchdown passes without an interception. Vick, who is Philly's second-leading rusher with 341 yards and four touchdowns, has won the last two NFC Offensive Player of the Week awards. He clinched his latest one with a record-setting performance in Washington in which he completed 20 of 28 passes (71.4 percent) and accounted for 413 total yards and six touchdowns. His passer rating was a career-high 150.7. Vick became the first player in NFL history to record 300 passing yards (333), 50 rushing yards (80), four passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns in the same game and the first in history with three passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns in the first half. Philadelphia is 4-0 in games that Vick starts and finishes.
As his numbers indicate, Vick is an excellent athlete and big-time playmaker with both his arm and his feet. He's made good decisions and he delivers the ball to a speedy receiving corps with a strong arm and accuracy. His backup is Kevin Kolb, who began the season as the starter but suffered a concussion in the opener vs. Green Bay. He is more of a pocket passer than Vick, but he has good touch and velocity.
Second-year running back LeSean McCoy is a dangerous dual threat who leads the team with 615 rushing yards and 46 catches (which is also tops among NFL running backs). McCoy is a much-improved back with good vision and outstanding speed. He has the ability to suddenly change direction and start and stop quickly. McCoy reads his blockers well and is a threat to reach the end zone any time he touches the ball, particularly on the screens Philly frequently throws him. Jerome Harrison, acquired in a trade with Cleveland on Oct. 13, is an instinctive back with quickness and patience. He is a strong runner who runs hard. Eldra Buckley runs fast through the seams and has good receiving skills. Fullback Owen Schmitt, previously with Seattle, was signed after Leonard Weaver injured his knee in the season opener. He is a good blocker with size and toughness who has also caught 14 passes.
The Eagles have an explosive passing game with starting wideouts DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Jackson, a 2009 Pro Bowler, leads the team with three 100-yard games and a 21.5 yards-per-catch average. One of the league's premier difference makers, Jackson has rare speed and a quick release from the line. An excellent deep threat, he has very good coverage awareness. The Eagles like to run him on end-arounds and reverses. Maclin is tops among Philly's receivers with 38 catches and seven touchdowns. Like Jackson, he reaches his top speed quickly. He runs good routes and picks up chunks of yardage after catching the ball. Jason Avant often works in the slot, where he is a hard-nosed chain mover. Avant does the dirty work inside while Jackson and Maclin run deep on the outside. He's also a physical blocker in the run game. Rookie Riley Cooper has good size and awareness. Chad Hall was active for three games.
Brent Celek plays in all the tight end groupings and is rarely off the field. A tough point-of-attack blocker, he has been used more in pass protection this season. Celek also has 23 catches, two for touchdowns. Garrett Mills, who was inactive at Washington, was signed off the practice squad after the opener. He has good receiving skills and the speed to get downfield. Rookie Clay Harbor has also played.
Philadelphia has started four different offensive line combinations because of injuries, including center Jamaal Jackson's season-ending torn triceps, suffered in the opener. Jackson has been replaced by third-year pro Mike McGlyn, a smart and alert player on both the run and pass. Left guard Todd Herremans is a solid pro who plays with quickness and strength. Nick Cole, who started the first three games, was back at right guard in Washington after Max Jean-Gilles suffered a concussion the previous week vs. Indianapolis. Either player could start against the Giants. Jean-Gilles is a powerful player with excellent strength at the point of attack. Cole is smart, competitive and aggressive. Right tackle Winston Justice has outstanding size, athletic ability and foot speed and has come a long way since Osi Umenyiora victimized him for six sacks three years ago. The Eagles' best lineman is left tackle Jason Peters, a three-time Pro Bowler. An outstanding athlete who can make all the blocks, Peters has quickness and is an anchor in both run and pass blocking and is playing at a high level.
Philadelphia's defense is very tenacious and aggressive and is ranked 11th in the NFL, allowing 325.0 yards a game. The Eagles are 12th against the run (104.0) and 16th vs. the pass (221.0). They are 22nd in scoring defense, allowing 23.2 points a game. Philadelphia has at least one sack in 28 consecutive games, the NFL's longest active streak and their 16 interceptions lead the NFL. They have at least one pick in 12 consecutive games. The Eagles attack an offense with a lot of creative blitz looks using a variety of personnel groupings. Their red zone defense is ranked last in the NFL, having allowed a touchdown on 78.3 percent of their opponents' trips inside the 20-yard line (18 of 23). Philadelphia has not allowed an individual 100-yard rushing performance this season.
The Eagles have a disruptive front seven. Their premier lineman and perhaps their best defensive player is right end Trent Cole, a two-time Pro Bowler whose 49.0 sacks since 2006 are the NFL's third-highest total. He leads the team with 7.0 sacks. Cole is explosive at the snap, plays with a very high motor and knows all the tricks in the trenches. Ten-year veteran Juqua Parker has stepped in for first-round draft choice Brandon Graham as the starter at left end. Parker, who has 5.0 sacks, is athletic and has speed and burst off the edge to pressure quarterbacks. He also has good recognition in the run game. Left tackle Mike Patterson has never missed a game in his six-year career and has outstanding pass rush ability. He locates the ball quickly and has good range against the run. Antonio Dixon has taken over for Brodrick Bunkley at right tackle. Dixon is an outstanding player in the making who plays with good leverage and is strong on contact. Bunkley missed two games with a left elbow injury. He is a solid inside player with a strong upper body who can create a new line of scrimmage. Graham has good athletic ability and has been aggressive vs. the run and has contributed 2.0 sacks. Darryl Tapp, acquired in a trade with Seattle, has been an important contributor in the sub packages. Trevor Laws is a competitive player in the defensive tackle rotation.
Stewart Bradley is back at middle linebacker after missing the entire 2009 season with a torn ACL. An every-snap player, Bradley is an attacking backer with good speed and play range. He can shed blockers, has the speed to cover tight ends and is a sure tackler. Bradley is second on the team with 55 tackles (33 solo). Weakside backer Ernie Sims, who was traded from Detroit, is a violent player with explosiveness and foot speed. He is difficult to block in space and he has outstanding man-to-man coverage skills. On the strong side is Moise Fokou, who began the season as a backup but has added aggressiveness to the linebackers group. He is a strong player who is difficult to block in the run game. Akeem Jordan started the first three games and still contributes as a sub. Omar Gaither is Bradley's backup and rookie Keenan Clayton, a safety in college, is the reserve weakside backer. Jamar Chaney, like all the backup linebackers, plays on special teams.
Strong safety Quinton Mikell is the quarterback of the defense and the team's leading tackler with 67 (51 solo). He is a tough, hard-nosed player against both the run and pass. Mikell also has speed and range and is playing extremely well. The free safety is rookie Nate Allen, who did not play Monday night because of a neck injury. He is a smooth-moving player with good coverage skills. Allen had three interceptions in the first four games, which was due in part to his jumping ability and strong hands. Another first-year pro, Kurt Coleman, made his first career start against the Redskins. He locates the ball quickly and hits hard when he arrives at the ballcarrier. Left cornerback Asante Samuel is a ball-hawking three-time Pro Bowler. He has excellent awareness and anticipation, a big reason he leads the Eagles with five interceptions and has returned eight picks for touchdowns since 2003. Dimitri Patterson has started the last two games at right corner for Ellis Hobbs. Patterson, who has three interceptions this season, is an aggressive corner with short-area quickness. He takes good angles, closes fast and is a sure tackler in space. Hobbs has been bothered by a hip flexor most of the season. He has good man-to-man coverage ability and is also a good blitzer. The most frequently-used nickel back is Joselio Hanson, who is strong in both man and zone coverage at either corner. Rookie Trevard Lindley is always around the ball when he plays.
Four-time Pro Bowler David Akers, now in his 12th season as the Eagles' kicker, is first in the NFC and fourth in the NFL with 77 points. He has made 16 of 20 field goal attempts, with a long of 49 yards. Akers has made nine of 12 attempts at home this season. He also leads the conference and is third in the league with 18 touchbacks. Punter Sav Rocca is having a career year with a 45.4-yard gross average and a 38.5-yard net average. He has placed 14 punts inside the 20 and has only two touchbacks. Rookie Jorrick Calvin has become the Eagles' primary punt and kickoff returner. He is averaging 11.5 yards on 11 punt returns and 22.1 yards on 13 kickoff returns.