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Fact or Fiction: Stopping Eagles ground attack



Containing the Eagles' running backs is the Giants' top priority in Week 6. **

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JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact - The Giants have been great defending the run this year, and I expect that to continue against an Eagles offensive line that has struggled at times. Where the Eagles running backs can hurt the Giants is catching the ball out of the backfield. Philly will use all three running backs as receivers, and all can make big game-changing plays as receivers.

DAN SALOMONE: Fiction - This game pits the reigning NFC Offensive Player of the Week in Giants quarterback Eli Manning against the NFC Defensive Player of the Week in Eagles defensive end Fletcher Cox, who had three sacks, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and six tackles in a 39-17 win over New Orleans. We all saw what happened last year when the Giants gave up eight sacks in a similar primetime game against Philadelphia. Keeping Manning upright in a hostile environment is the top priority.

LANCE MEDOW: Fact -It's no coincidence that the Eagles had their most productive running performances in their two wins this season. In Week 3 against the Jets, Philadelphia ran for 123 yards, as a team, en route to a 24-17 victory and then last week posted a season-high 186 rushing yards in a 39-17 win over the Saints. The Eagles are dead last in the NFL in time of possession (25:03), but in those two wins, thanks to productive days on the ground, they held the ball for 31:49 and 34:02 against the Jets and Saints, respectively. Those two totals are significantly above their season average. If the Giants can stop the Eagles' run game, they'll prevent Philly from milking some clock during their offensive drives and, instead, keep the Eagles' defense on the field for longer periods of time. Case in point, in Philadelphia's three losses to the Falcons, Cowboys and Redskins, it struggled to run the ball. The rushing totals were: 63 yards, 7 yards, and 87 yards, respectively. In each contest, the Eagles time of possession was under 25 minutes, including two games under 20. You stop the run, you keep the Philly offense off the field and force Sam Bradford to put the ball in the air more, which can lead to takeaways. He has six interceptions on the season, including three in the redzone. The Giants will rush for a season-high number of yards vs. Philadelphia.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction -The Eagles have one of the best rush defenses in football, third best in terms of yards per rush. Their defensive linemen are very stout against the run and the Giants might have issues moving the ball on the ground.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact -The Eagles are allowing just 3.53 yards per carry, which is good for third in the NFL (the Giants are No. 1). But I think the run game keeps coming along for Big Blue and is due for a breakout. Meanwhile, the Giants will probably be more balanced this week after Manning had a career-high 54 passing attempts -- even though he did complete a franchise-record 41 of them.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction -The Giants will need exactly 100 rushing yards against the Eagles to post a season-high in that category. Philadelphia's defense has been stingy against the run this season as it is only allowing 97 yards per game (10th in the NFL), but with that being said, three teams have surpassed the century mark against the Eagles. As we've seen in recent games, I think the Giants' running backs will have more success against the Eagles as receivers than on the ground. Entering last week's game against the Niners, San Francisco ranked 20th against the run and the Giants still failed to reach 100 rushing yards. In the three previous weeks, New York went up against a top ten ranked rushing defense in the Falcons, Redskins and Bills, respectively. That trend continues this week with Philly. Monday night is the Giants' most important road game of the year.

Playmakers on Eagles first-team offense, defense, and special teams, presented by Nike

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact - You could toss it up between the Eagles and Cowboys road games, but since the Dallas game has already been played and they are missing Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, I will go with Philly. Right now I think the Eagles are the Giants' biggest competition in the division, and getting a tie-breaker with them and could be crucial at the end of the year.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact -The NFL scheduling gurus knew what they were doing when they scheduled this one. Exactly a year in NFL terms after the 27-point shutout loss in Philly, the Giants have a chance to get that taste of their mouths in a nearly identical circumstance: coming off three consecutive wins after starting the year 0-2. And forgetting last year, every NFC East game is critical as the division typically comes down to the final week.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction -Yes, the game is against a division rival so it certainly takes on additional weight, but it's impossible to label the third road game of the season as the most important of the year. After Monday night, the Giants still have five more road contests, including one against the Redskins in late November. Who knows how the standings will look by then, but you also can't overlook two non-division road games in December against the Dolphins and Vikings. For all we know, those two contests could have huge playoff implications given the time of the year. I'll save the bold labels for later in the season. Last week was one of Eli Manning's top-five performances in the regular season.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction -The overall numbers are right there with any Eli Manning performance, but he threw an interception in the opponent's end zone at the end of the first half. He could have thrown a second if the defender had caught the football when he tried to find Myles White over the middle. Manning almost threw a pick on the final game-winning drive, as well. In a game with those types of mistakes, I can't put it in his top five.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact -From a numbers standpoint, it was huge. He set a franchise record with 41 completions (his previous personal best was 34), completed a career-high 15 consecutive passes over three series, and broke Phil Simms' record with his 102nd victory as a Giants quarterback. From an emotional standpoint, Manning put the first two weeks in the Giants' rearview mirror and did what he'll be remembered for: leading game-winning drives. It was the 32nd time the two-time Super Bowl MVP led the Giants back from a fourth-quarter deficit or tie.

LANCE MEDOW: Fact -When you take into consideration Eli Manning's stats, how the game ended and him surpassing Phil Simms as the franchise's winningest player (102 career victories including playoffs), how can you not put this in the top five? Manning set career highs in completions (41) and pass attempts (54) for 441 yards and finished with a QB rating of 110.2. He completed 76% of his passes, including a career-high 15 consecutive passes over three series spanning the third and fourth quarters, and threw for three touchdowns, including the game-winner to Larry Donnell with 21 seconds left in the game. That was the 27th time in the regular season that Manning has helped the Giants overcome a fourth quarter deficit to win a game. What makes it even more impressive is that he was without his top two wide receivers, Odell Beckham and Rueben Randle, for most of that final drive.

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