By Eric from BigBlueInteractive.com
Approach to the Game – Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants, November 20, 2011: I do not share the opinions of many that the Giants’ loss to the 49ers was not too devastating. That game was one the Giants could have, and should have, won. Now with seven regular season games left to play, the Giants probably have to go 4-3 to win the NFC East. That won’t be easy with the Packers, Saints, Jets, and four division games left on the plate.
There is a lot of talk that the Giants can end the Eagles’ season on Sunday night. BS. The Eagles’ season was pretty much ended last week by the Cardinals. But the Eagles certainly can help to ruin the Giants’ season – again – if they upset the Giants in the Meadowlands.
This is a very dangerous game for the Giants and almost a “must win” unless the Giants steal a game from the Saints or Packers. If the Giants blow this, they will likely be watching the playoffs again.
Do not underestimate the Eagles. They’ve been in every game this year and have even blown out the Cowboys. Their biggest problem has been playing poorly in the 4th quarter. Five of their six losses have been by seven points or less.
What the Giants have going for themselves is this – the Giants have every motivation in the world to win this game. It’s the hated Eagles. It’s the same setting as last year’s debacle. And it’s a crucial game if the Giants are to make the playoffs this year. Meanwhile, the Eagles’ morale and confidence have to be waning. Shame on the Giants if they don’t come away with a win.
Giants on Offense: The Eagles are 13th on defense in the NFL in terms of yards allowed (11th in passing defense; 17th in rushing defense).
In the first Giants-Eagles game, the Giants hurt the Eagles with big plays in the passing game. It was Victor Cruz’s breakout game. And the Giants even got the backs in the act as Brandon Jacobs caught a 40-yard touchdown pass. The Eagles’ high-priced secondary has been victimized much of the year with inconsistent coverage and shoddy tackling. The Giants’ receivers run well after the catch. The focal point of my game plan would be the passing game and getting the ball to Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Mario Manningham, and Jake Ballard.
The Eagles will likely be without CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but that may not be a big loss for them as he has not been playing particularly well. In fact, CB Joselio Hanson may be an upgrade at nickel.
The Giants need a good game from Eli Manning with no dumb turnovers (interceptions or fumbles). Eli has been great this year – yes GREAT – but now it’s November and the games are getting very serious.
The offensive line will be on the spot because the Eagles can get after the quarterback. Key match-ups include Will Beatty versus DE Trent Cole (5 sacks) and Kareem McKenzie versus DE Jason Babin (9 sacks). David Diehl will also have his hands full with DT Cullen Jenkins (5 sacks) and DT Mike Paterson has given the Giants trouble in the past. The Eagles also have pretty good depth on the defensive line to keep everyone fresh.
The weakness of the Eagles’ defense has been their linebacking corps. The Giants should exploit this in the passing game as well with passes to Ballard and even Jacobs, D.J. Ware, and possibly Da’Rel Scott.
Giants on Defense: Even if QB Michael Vick and WR Jeremy Maclin don’t play, the Giants will have match-up problems against the Eagles with LB Michael Boley likely out. Simply put, I’m not sure the Giants have the experience level necessary right now at linebacker to cover the Eagles’ backs and tight ends. I would be very, very tempted to play more defensive backs this week. However, the problem with that strategy is that in the absence of Michael Vick, Andy Reid may be forced to run the ball more with LeSean McCoy – one of the most dangerous players in the entire NFL. One of Reid’s faults in the past has been getting too cute and not sticking with his top guns. On Sunday night, Reid may have no other choice than to ride McCoy, and that might be bad news for the Giants. How good is McCoy? He’s on pace for over 1,600 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns and 55 receptions. Keep in mind the Eagles are the #1 rushing team in the NFL and that’s not just due to Vick.
So do the Giants play two linebackers or three in their base defense? Who should the linebackers be? Can Mathias Kiwanuka and Greg Jones cover the Eagles’ backs and tight ends in space? Can Greg Jones, Jacquian Williams, and Spencer Paysinger not only not make mental mistakes in coverage, but be where they are supposed to be on running plays and make plays against the run? If Deon Grant plays linebacker, will the Eagles try to exploit that by running the ball more? How can the Giants use Prince Amukamara most effectively? This is a game where the Giants really need Perry Fewell to dig down deep and come up with some schemes that won’t be overly complicated for his own players, but be problematic enough for the Eagles.
I don’t think the Giants’ front seven can be overly aggressive in this game. There is a good chance the Eagles will run the ball a lot. And the Giants need to be wary of screens, misdirection, and possibly a trick play or two.
WR DeSean Jackson should be primed to play well after being embarrassed last week by being inactive for missing a team meeting. But the key is McCoy – both as a runner and receiver. Play hard for all four quarters and overtime if necessary to keep him in check.
Giants on Special Teams: The Giants’ special teams were terrible last week and one of the primary reasons the Giants lost the game. There were too many penalties and too many poor decisions in the kick return game. And Steve Weatherford’s shank was particularly costly. The Giants’ average starting field position last week was inside their own 20-yard line. New York needs to do much better than that and create a longer field for the Eagles.
Jackson is exceptionally dangerous on punt returns.
This would be a good time for the Giants to finally block a punt or field goal.