After holding the NFC East title for 4 straight years, the Eagles surrendered the NFCE to the Giants last year. So it should seem fitting as the Eagles set out on their quest to reclaim the east that they would meet the Giants so early on.
Bottom line for this game is that it's in Philly. The Eagles should win this game. They are not the injury and controversy riddled 6-10 team from last year and if they see themselves as a contender this year they simply must beat their division rivals at home. Despite this only being week 2 this game is important for several reasons. First and foremost being that we all know how important those division and conference records are come years' end. If the Eagles are locked in a race for the NFCE title or a wildcard berth, winning a division game like this at home early on will be invaluable. Plus, it puts the Giants at 0-2 facing a trip to Seattle in week 3.Key MatchupsEagles interior offensive line vs Giants DTs.
I think a lot is on Andrews/Jackson/Herremans. If they can maintain the pocket and keep the Giants from getting pressure up the middle, the Giant's dangerous edge rushers should be neutralized like they were in the Colts game. Time after time you saw Strahan or Umenyoria come flying off the edge, only to see Peyton Manning step up in the pocket to easily avoid them. Plus, the Giants defensive tackles played well against the run. So in addition to having the success the Colts' did in the pass block, the Eagles interior line has to open some holes for Westbrook & Buckhalter.Westbrook/LJ vs the Giants LBs.
As talented as the Giants LBs are against the run and in the pass rush, they are weak in coverage. Antonio Pierce is a pro
bowl caliber run stopper but is weak when he drops back in coverage and Lavar Arrington is just shockingly bad in that dept. Lavar is especially prone to biting on play fakes, which we all know McNabb does very well. The other starting LB for the Giants is former Eagle Carlos Emmons who has lost a step after a few years of injuries, but generally looked pretty good against the Colts. This should be a matchup that the Eagles should exploit with passes to Westbrook out of the backfield, which as anyone who watched the Eagles for even 5 minutes will tell you, is a staple of their offense. Plus, LJ Smith coming off a solid game in Houston should also be in for a big day against the Giants LB corps, let's just hope while he preys on their pass coverage weakness they don't prey on his run blocking weakness...
Although it seems kind of ridiculous to think that a 4th corner will have any impact on the game, Wynn will also likely be returning kicks and possibly punts as well. That does put him in a position to have a big impact on the game. He was cut before the season and just re-signed to the team following Lito's injury. I'm kind of interested to see what Dexter Wynn can do... This is a kid that may be facing his last shot to make it as an NFL player. They already cut him and he has to know that if he doesn't do something big he'll probably be cut again when Lito comes back... So who knows? Maybe the desperation and desire to play pro football will drive Wynn to do good things. In the end, I don't really have a ton of expectations for him... but he could very well be the most motivated player on the field Sunday.Eagles DBs vs Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Shockey
. I'm going to let G Cobb
take this one since he did such a good job talking about this matchup on his website
I can tell you right now that there's going to be a lot of talk about size advantage that 6'5" wide receiver Plaxico Burress and 6'3" Amani Toomer have over the Eagles cornerbacks 5'10" Sheldon Brown and 5'11" Roderick Hood. Rather than getting taller when Hanson comes into the game, you get even shorter at 5'9". Wynn is also 5'9" so they wouldn't be able to put him in to negate the height advantage.
The Giants have got to be thinking about getting these tall receivers isolated on these cornerbacks. They have to figure that if they can't get these guys one on one with the smaller cornerbacks they can throw the ball up high and have a field day. You can believe that on goalline, Brian Dawkins is going to take over at the corner spot because although he's not much taller, he is strong enough to out-physical the taller wideouts for position in order to avoid a completion.
Clearly a lot of emphasis will be on the front four to get pressure on Eli Manning without blitzing so that the corners have safety help.Finally, Matt McCoy vs Tiki Barber.
This may very well be the most crucial matchup of all and it pits one of the top running backs in the league vs a guy starting
his 2nd game in the NFL... Scary huh? Saying Tiki Barber is the key to the Giants' offense is an understatement. He is
their offense. Tiki is one of only 2 players in NFL history to account for 40% of his team's total offense in back to back years. If last week's game was any indication, he's headed toward his unprecedented 3rd straight year accounting for a huge chunk of the Giants' total offense. Their offense, run and pass, begins and ends with Barber and stopping him is the key to stopping the Giants' offense. Certainly Trotter will figure mightily into the scheme to stop Barber as will the Eagles defensive line, but McCoy is probably the key. He played outstanding against the Texans' run game laying some big hits, filling gaps, and blowing up runs in the backfilled. If he can play like that again, the Eagles are in very good shape. If he gets sealed off on blocks or he overpursues, both things we saw at times in the preseason, the Giants will run Barber at his side all day and he'll give the Eagles nightmares.Stats to watch
Tiki Barber is riding a string of 5 consecutive 100 yard rushing games in the regular season
McNabb needs 253 yards passing to get to 20,000 in his career.
This is as good as gets, these are the games we watch football for. Division rival coming to Philly for the home opener... This game could vault the Eagles' into a lot of experts' top 5 teams or it could negate their performance against the Texans as them beating up on a bad team.
My prediction(which was perfect last week): Eagles 17 Giants 10.