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Scouting Report: Breaking down the Eagles

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Get to know the Giants' opponent for their Week 17 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.**
– The stakes will be high when the Giants clash with the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday night in Lincoln Financial Field. Riding a three-game winning streak, the Giants are 3-2, one game behind the Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East. The teams split their season series in each of the last three seasons. In 2013, each team won on the other's home field. The Giants lead the regular-season series, 82-74-2, and the postseason series is tied, 2-2. In Lincoln Financial Field, the Giants are 6-5 in the regular season and 0-1 in postseason play. The Eagles stretched their home winning streak to seven games last week with a 34-28 victory over St. Louis.

Philadelphia has seven return touchdowns (four on special teams, three on defense), the first team to do that through five games since the 1920 Buffalo All-Americans.


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PHILADELPHIA EAGLES OFFENSE

The Eagles are ranked 14th in the NFL with an average of 363.4 yards a game. They are 23rd in rushing (98.6 yards a game) and ninth in passing. Philly is tied for first in scoring with an average of 31.2 points a game, but that is not a true indicator of the offense's prowess because of the return touchdowns. In their last two games – a loss in San Francisco and the victory over the Rams – Philadelphia totaled two touchdowns and two field goals on 23 offensive possessions. The Eagles have six touchdowns on 16 trips inside their opponents' 20-yard line, a 37.5 percent success rate that is 30th in the league.

In each of their first three games, the Eagles overcame a double-digit second-half deficit to defeat Jacksonville, Indianapolis and Washington. Coach Chip Kelly directs the NFL's fastest offense, an up-tempo, spread attack that attempts to push opponents in the first half and take advantage of them after halftime.

Quarterback Nick Foles was terrific in 2013, when he threw 27 touchdown passes and only two interceptions in 317 attempts. He's thrown five picks this season. Foles is a big, strong-armed passer who is confident and instinctive in the pocket. He was sacked five times in the season-opener vs. the Jaguars, but only once in the last four games. Foles' backups are Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley.

The Eagles have a scary running back tandem in LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles, both of whom Kelly tries to get in space. McCoy led the NFL with 1,607 rushing yards last year, but his average per carry has dropped from 5.1 yards in 2013 to 2.9 this year, and he has yet to rush for 100 yards in a game. McCoy has outstanding running and receiving skills, vision and an explosive change of direction. Sproles, obtained in a trade with New Orleans, is averaging 5.9 yards a carry and 12.4 yards a catch. He has excellent cut-back ability and the speed to go all the way whenever he touches the ball. Chris Polk is a hard-nosed back with good quickness and he is alert for the blitz in pass protection. The Eagles do not have a fullback on their roster.

All of Philadelphia's receivers are 5-11 or taller. The leader of the pack is Jeremy Maclin, who has team-high totals of 25 catches, 429 yards (a 17.2-yard average) and four touchdowns. Maclin has good play speed and body control, locates voids in the defense and is a dangerous runner after catching the ball. Riley Cooper, a 6-4, 230-pounder, is a strong receiver with good ball skills and deceptive deep speed. Rookie Jordan Matthews, a second-round draft choice from Vanderbilt, has 19 catches, tying him with Cooper for second on the team. Matthews is a big slot receiver with long arms and a good feel for routes and is effective on quick outs and down the seam. Jeff Maehl lines up in multiple spots and is a savvy player with good hands. Josh Huff is an explosive athlete. Brad Smith is out with a groin injury.

For this Top 10 Tuesday, we look at the Giants' all-time touchdown leaders during the regular season vs. the Philadelphia Eagles

Starting tight end Brent Celek is tough, competitive and smart and quickly locates voids in zone defenses. Zach Ertz is an athletic receiver with good hands and run-after-the-catch ability. James Casey is a jack of all trades who lines up at several positions, including fullback. Trey Burton is an undrafted rookie with a big catch radius who contributes on special teams.

Last season, the Eagles started the same five offensive linemen in every game. This year the unit has been hit hard by injuries and four different combinations started the first five games. Allen Barbre, the opening day right tackle, is out for the season with an ankle injury. Left guard Evan Mathis is on IR/designated for return with a sprained right MCL. Center Jason Kelce is sidelined after undergoing surgery to repair a sports hernia. Right tackle Lane Johnson missed the first four games while serving an NFL suspension.

Six-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters has been the one constant on the line. Peters is both heavy-bodied and powerful and light on his feet. Johnson has a high football IQ and used his hands well. Ten-year veteran Todd Herremans has started four games at right guard and one at tackle. He is a shrewd veteran with the size and strength to wall off defenders. The current left guard is Matt Tobin, a tough player who is improving in pass protection. Center David Molk is a scrappy player who plays aggressively and with quickness in both run and pass. The backups are Andrew Gardner, Dennis Kelly and Wade Smith.


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PHILADELPHIA EAGLES DEFENSE

Philadelphia's defense is ranked 28th in the NFL, allowing 406.2 yards a game. The Eagles are 24th against the run (132.0 yards a game) and 29th vs. the pass (274.2). Philly has allowed 26.4 points a game, placing it 25th in the league. But the Eagles are 10th in third down efficiency, allowing a 39.2 conversion rate (29 of 74).

The Eagles have an active, aggressive front. Nose tackle Bennie Logan is a first-year starter. He has good lateral movement, range and chase effort. Right end Fletcher Cox has foot speed, sheds blockers well and quickly reads schemes. Cedric Thornton is a high-energy player with upper body strength and pass rush skills. He scored a touchdown last week vs. St. Louis when he fell on a fumble in the end zone. Cox and Thornton move inside in sub packages. Brandon Bair has long arms and good upper body strength. Vinny Curry is a quick, hard-nosed sub pass rusher. Rookie Beau Allen is a stout player who flashes power rush ability. Taylor Hart has been inactive for every game.

Philadelphia's injury issues on defense are at inside linebacker, where both starters are hurt. Mychal Kendricks injured his left calf at Indianapolis in Week 2 and hasn't played since. DeMeco Ryans, the defensive leader and signal-caller, hurt his groin in last week's victory over St. Louis and sat out the fourth quarter. Emmanuel Acho started one game and Casey Matthews the last two for Kendricks. Matthews is an improving run game player with good pursuit effort and does well on the blitz. If Ryan can't play Sunday, the Eagles might fill his spot with a committee led by Acho, who is a solid run defender.

Trent Cole is the starting right outside linebacker. He has 81.5 career sacks, placing him second in franchise history, including 8.0 of Eli Manning, the second-highest total by any opponent (DeMarcus Ware has 13.5). Cole is also strip-sack expert. Connor Barwin mans the left side, where he plays with smarts, toughness and strength. He leads the team with 3.0 sacks. Marcus Smith, the team's first-round draft choice this year, has good straight-line speed as a pass rusher and has a knack for knocking down passes. Brandon Graham averages about 25 snaps a game, is quick to locate the ball and uses an assortment of tricks when rushing the quarterback. Bryan Braman is a sub outside linebacker and defensive end who chases the ball with a high motor.

Safety Malcolm Jenkins joined the Eagles as a free agent from New Orleans and has sharply upgraded and stabilized the back of the defense. He is a playmaker who is patient, smart and instinctive. Jenkins has all three of the Eagles' interceptions this season, including one he returned 53 yards for a touchdown in San Francisco. The other safety is Nate Allen, who has good anticipation on underneath throws and a nose for the ball in run support. Cary Williams is a big and athletic corner with speed, range, length and good closing ability. Bradley Fletcher is a press corner with size and ball awareness for pass breakups. Nickel corner Brandon Boykin has strong underneath recognition and cover skills. Nolan Carroll has lined up at several positions in the dime defense. Chris Maragos and Earl Wolff are the backup safeties.


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PHILADELPHIA EAGLES SPECIAL TEAMS

The Eagles have gifted special teams and the units have helped keep them in games with four touchdowns this season – two on blocked punts, one punt return and one kickoff return. Sproles is a tremendous punt returner who has an 82-yard touchdown this season. Polk ran a kickoff back 102 yards against Washington. Rookie kicker Cody Parkey, obtained in a trade with Indianapolis, has made 10 of 11 field goal attempts. Donnie Jones is a veteran left-footed punter with the ability to flip the field. Polk, James Casey and Maragos have been standouts on the coverage teams.

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