Zac’s note: This article was originally published at
The 11-1 New York Giants host the 6-5-1 Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday. Kickoff is at 1:00 pm and the game can be seen on FOX.
The biggest injury is, of course, Plaxico Burress’ brain injury that I’ve been writing about for too many weeks in a row. I blame myself for last weekend, actually as I jinxed Burress and the Giants a couple of weeks ago when I stated that his brain had healed.
As of Friday evening, running back Ahmad Bradshaw, center Shaun O’Hara and defensive tackle Fred Robbins are all expected to start against the Eagles. Corey Webster is on the “Maybe” list but is expected to play. Linebacker Jonathan Goff is out for this Sunday’s game.
The Giants will win…
by doing exactly what they did to the Eagles when they met earlier this season in Philadelphia. As I wrote in my recap of that game, the Giants didn’t beat Philly due to making the “big play.” They won by grinding it out, keeping possession of the ball and coming up with the “must have” drive or defensive stance.
Two key stats to remember when looking back at that November 9 contest. The Giants held the ball for 39:10. The Eagles controlled the football for 20:50. Big Blue ran for 219 yards. The Eagles rushed for 106, which is actually somewhat impressive against this New York defense.
Arguably the most important thing the Giants did in the first game, though, was stop Brian Westbrook. Westbrook was held for 26 yards on 13 attempts and finished the game with only three catches for 33 yards. Westbrook will have to do better in the Meadowlands this Sunday or else the Eagles will go 0-2 against the Giants in 2008.
The Eagles give up an average of 93.5 rushing yards a game. As mentioned earlier, the Giants proved that they can run all over the Eagles on November 9. It’s going to be chilly in New Jersey this Sunday. There could even be a flurry here or there. This is perfect weather for a healthy Brandon Jacobs to rush for, oh I don’t know, 130 yards and two scores on 22 carries. Just a guess.
The Giants will lose…
if they don’t hold onto the football. New York put the ball on the ground way too many times against the Eagles the last time these two teams faced one another. The Giants were actually fortunate to only turn the ball over twice in that game. The Eagles may be the “weakest” team in the NFC East but they are far too good to be given chance after chance to stay in the game.
Eli Manning and Brandon Jacobs, I am talking to you.
Manning got the job done against the Eagles last time but he was far from great. He threw arguably the ugliest interception of his season in the first minutes of game and could have turned the ball over a few other times if not for some luck. With Burress officially out (forever), all eyes will be on Manning. Two years ago, this thought would have scared me. I trust in you now, Eli.
The MVP of an Eagles win could very well be quarterback Donovan McNabb, who is trying to either save his Philly career or prove his worth to other NFL teams. Big Blue cannot afford to go into this game believing that McNabb is “down and out.” They failed to sack McNabb once on November 9, which disturbed me back then and worries me as I write this piece. McNabb is a man on a mission and delaying New York’s NFC East championship celebration would just about make his season.
What else are the Eagles playing for?
Finally, there are the distractions. I’m not going to get into Burress, Antonio Pierce, Michael Bloomberg and New York talk radio. All I will say at this point is that the Giants are lucky right now to have Tom Coughlin as head coach. If Coughlin doesn’t have Big Blue ready for this Sunday, the Giants could be in some trouble heading into the rest of the regular season and the playoffs.
When push comes to shove, the Eagles simply aren’t on New York’s level. Unless the Giants have their heads somewhere else this Sunday, they should come away victorious. How they win will be the story for this game and the rest of the season. If New York stumbles and limps away with a three point win, it will prove that the pressure and distractions are accumulating. However, if the Giants simply dominate the Eagles, you’ll have to start wondering if there’s anything, in or outside the NFL, that can stop this runaway train.
Personally, I don’t believe that either is going to happen. I expect the Giants to win this game but not by three scores. Big Blue will just have to settle for clinching the division at home.