The Giants will attempt to complete a season sweep of Philadelphia Eagles and retain their lead in the NFC East when they host their longtime rivals Sunday night in MetLife Stadium. On Sept. 25 in Philadelphia, the Giants defeated the Eagles, 29-16, to break a six-game losing streak in the series (including one postseason game). The Giants lead the regular season series, 80-71-2. Both teams are coming off losses. The Giants fell in San Francisco, 27-20, and are now 6-3. The Eagles have dropped their last two games, to Chicago and Arizona, and are 3-6.
Despite their record, the Eagles have posted some impressive offensive numbers. They lead the NFL in rushing yards per game (171.6) and per carry (5.8 yards) and are ranked third overall (418.2). Philadelphia is 10th in passing yardage (246.7). The Eagles are 11th in scoring (24.4 points a game) and fourth in average time of possession (32:12).
But the Eagles have hurt themselves with 21 giveaways, including seven in the red zone, both league-worst figures. Their minus-seven turnover differential ranks 27th in the league. Philadelphia has had a fourth-quarter lead in eight of its nine games and blown five of them – and has been outscored in the quarter, 74-27.
Quarterback Michael Vick has two broken ribs and a decision regarding his availability might not be made until just prior to game time. He has thrown for 2,193 yards, 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions this season. Vick is uncommonly tough and he can make plays with his arm and his feet. But he's been taking a beating this season and he has thrown 18 interceptions in his last 16 games, dating back to last season. Two-time Pro Bowler Vince Young is expected to play if Vick can't go. The former Tennessee Titan has thrown just one pass this season, and it was intercepted at Washington. Third-string quarterback Mike Kafka stepped in for Vick when the starter hurt his hand in the first Giants game and threw two interceptions.
Philadelphia has taken fewer deep shots this season, but the Eagles frequently throw screen passes to their backs, tight ends and wide receivers.
The big producer in the Eagles' offense is dynamic running back LeSean McCoy. He is second in the NFL with 906 rushing yards (Vick is 19th with 535), fourth with 1,102 yards from scrimmage, and his 12 touchdowns (10 rushing) and 72 points lead all non-kickers. With a one-yard touchdown run last week, McCoy became the first player in franchise history to score a touchdown in nine straight games. He can run inside and outside and catch the ball. The backup is Ronnie Brown, who occasionally lines up next to McCoy. Brown has good vision and patience and exceptional hands coming out of the backfield. Brown is also a willing blocker in pass protection. Fullback Owen Schmitt is primarily a blocker, but he does have four rushing attempts this season – all against the Giants.
The Eagles' leading receiver is Jeremy Maclin, who has 46 catches and four touchdowns, but he is bothered by shoulder and hamstring injuries that kept him out of practice on Wednesday. Maclin is particularly effective against zone coverage, where he can quickly fill voids. He also has the speed to stretch the field. DeSean Jackson was inactive last week after missing a meeting the day before the game. Philly's second-most targeted receiver, Jackson has run more short and intermediate routes this year. But he is a deep threat, as proven by his team-best 17.3-yard average per catch. Jason Avant is a strong receiver who does the dirty work in the middle of the field. He is second on the team with 34 catches, including nine at Buffalo. Avant is also Philly's best blocking receiver. The fourth end is former Giant Steve Smith, who was inactive in the two games prior to last week's loss to Arizona. He has 10 catches for 110 yards this season. Smith lines up on the outside as well as in the slot. Riley Cooper has played in every game but has yet to catch a pass.
Tight end Brent Celek has participated in more than 90 percent of the Eagles' offensive plays and has become Vick's security blanket. He has 31 catches, many of them on screens, and two scores. Philadelphia frequently uses a two-tight end alignment with Celek and Clay Harbor, who has better speed than the starter.
The Eagles' offensive line has a different look from the first Giants game. Kyle DeVan, who started at right guard, has been waived and replaced by Danny Watkins, Philadelphia's first-round draft choice this year. Watkins is a work in progress who has shown improvement since entering the starting lineup. Left guard Evan Mathis missed last week's game with turf toe and was replaced by King Dunlap, who usually plays tackle and is unusually tall for a guard at 6-9. Dunlap, however, suffered a concussion, so he might not be available on Sunday. He plays in the Eagles' heavy package if he's not starting. Philadelphia's best lineman is left tackle Jason Peters, a gifted player who is athletic, powerful, tough, strong and smart. He has good body control and range and long arms and is hard to get around. Peters is a four-time Pro Bowler who is again playing at that level. Rookie center Jason Kelce is more athletic than a powerful. Right tackle Todd Herremans, who played left guard last year, is a smart, solid veteran player.
The Eagles are ranked 13th in yards allowed (339.6) and are 17th against the run (120.0) and 11th vs. the pass (219.6). They are 19th in scoring defense (22.6 points a game). Philadelphia is last in the NFL in red zone defense allowing a touchdown on 69.2 percent of opponent possessions inside the 20-yard line (18 of 26).
Philadelphia will play eight down linemen in a game and they'll roll entire groups in and out, like hockey line changes. The Eagles have 26 sacks – 24 by the down linemen. The defense did not allow an opposing quarterback to throw for more than 300 yards until the Cardinals' John Skelton did it last week.
Jason Babin, in his second tour of duty in Philly, leads the Eagles with nine sacks, while fellow end Trent Cole has five (as does defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins). Both ends get off quickly at the snap and fight until the whistle blows. Cole missed two games with a calf injury, but the two-time Pro Bowler is a disruptive force when he's on the field. Jenkins, a free agent acquisition from Green Bay, is strong against the run and gives Philadelphia a good inside pass rush. Right tackle Mike Patterson is a steady, solid player who plays primarily on run downs.
The reserves are also talented. Juqua Parker missed three games with an ankle injury, but he is a clever pass rusher with 35 career sacks. Like the other defensive ends, Parker is quick at the snap of the ball. Trevor Laws is a tough player vs. the run. Backup end Darryl Tapp was inactive for three games with a pectoral injury, but he is an athletic pass rusher. Derek Landri was cut in training camp and re-signed. He is tough, smart and competitive with good pursuit effort. Brandon Graham came off the physically unable to perform list to complete the defensive line rotation.
The Eagles coaches have searched all season for a linebacker combination they're comfortable with. The latest grouping, unveiled last week, had Jamar Chaney in the middle, rookie Brian Rolle on the weak side and Akeem Jordan on the strong side. Chaney was the only one of the three who started the first Giants game, and he was then the strongside backer. Moise Fokou was benched last week in favor of Jordan. Chaney leads the team in tackles with 71 (55 solo). He is a smart, strong player who had his first sack of the season last week. Jordan is a sturdy run stopper. Rolle is fast and athletic; he forced a fumble by Chicago's Matt Forte, scooped up the ball and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown. Rookie Casey Matthews started the first three games in the middle, but since the first Giants game most of his action has been in short yardage and goal line situations.
Philadelphia has a big-name cornerback trio in Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but has given up 17 touchdown passes. Asomugha has not consistently covered the opposition's top receiver, as many expected the marquee free agent acquisition would. He instead plays all over – on the corner, inside, even up in the box. The 6-3 Asomugha might be the NFL's most talented corner with his size, length and speed. Samuel is a gambler who loves to jump the underneath routes in an attempt to intercept the ball. He has two picks this year, one less than Asomugha. Nobody in the NFL is better than Samuel at reading a quarterback's eyes. Rodgers-Cromartie suffered a high ankle sprain on Sunday when he returned kickoffs for the first time in his career. He has often lined up in the slot, a position he never played before this season. Joselio Hanson will be the nickel corner if Rodgers-Cromartie can't play. Brandon Hughes would then be the dime back.
Safety Kurt Coleman is the secondary's most improved player. He had three interceptions in a victory in Washington. Coleman is aggressive and tough and he understands what the offense is trying to do. Second-year pro Nate Allen started five consecutive games at free safety before sitting out last week with a concussion. Rookie second-round draft choice Jaiquawn Jarrett stepped in for him. Jarrett is a better player when he's close to the line of scrimmage.
The Eagles have outstanding coverage teams, with kickoff and punt teams that rank sixth and eighth in the league, respectively. Colt Anderson is a terrific cover specialist who leads the team with nine special teams tackles. Despite the presence of Jackson, the Eagles have averaged only 4.3 yards a punt return. The rest of the key special teamers are rookies. Dion Lewis is averaging 22.2 yards as the primary kickoff returner. Kicker Alex Henery has made 15 of 18 field goal attempts, the longest from 47 yards. Chas Henry has a 41.9-yard gross average and a 36.3-yard net average on 28 punts.
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