The Eagles head into the Meadowlands on Sunday night to play the Giants in what will be a battle for supremacy in the NFC East. I did not forget about the Cowboys, but it is the month of December and it is time for them to fade away like a bad memory.
The first time these two teams met in week eight the Eagles jumped all over the G-Men and rolled to a dominating 40-17 win, but do not fool yourself into believing that this game will be a cake walk as well.
Big plays were the key to the victory in game one as FB Leonard Weaver scored first on a 41 yard run, DeSean Jackson scored on a 54 yard pass play, and LeSean McCoy scored on a 66 yard run in the 4th quarter in a one sided romp.
This time around look for a much more conservative, balanced attack featuring a solid running game along with short to mid range passes with the intent of moving the sticks and chewing up the clock. I still fully expect Donovan McNabb to throw the ball down field looking for some big plays especially with deep threat D Jackson back in the lineup, but for the most part their game plan will be to execute long, multiple play drives that not only put points on the board, but keep the Giants' offense on the sidelines.
When the Giants do have the ball, the number one priority will be to shut RB's Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw down and force Eli Manning to have to throw the ball to win the game. Jacobs and Bradshaw have struggled lately rushing for only 189 yards combined in their last three games, but they are still big bruising backs, especially Jacobs who at 6'4" 264 lbs is a load to bring down. When Manning does throw the ball, the Eagles' secondary will have to account for WR Steve Smith who has already caught 78 balls for 979 yards and five TD's this season. His second favorite target is Mario Manningham who has 45 receptions for 675 yards and four TD's. As always, keeping constant pressure on Eli is the best way to throw him off his game which often leads to him turning the ball over. In their five losses this season, Manning has turned the ball over nine times.
On paper, the Eagles' strengths outweigh the Giants' weaknesses. The biggest advantage is on the scoreboard. Philadelphia's offense is ranked 6th in points per game with 27.2 and New York's defense is ranked 25th, giving up an average of 23.8 points per game. The key to an Eagle's victory is putting these points on the board early and making the Giants play from behind, which is something they have struggled doing all season long.
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