Football Friday: Hoping for a Giant Disappointment

After two weeks of neglect, Football Friday is back in full effect on TPM, once again focusing on the Philadelphia Eagles. Almost week after Shady and Desean led the Birds to a grind-it-out win over Dallas and a mere couple days after it became Cliffmas in Philly, it’s time to focus on the NFC East first place battle in East Rutherford, NJ on Sunday.

How does the Ginas… sorry, I mean Giants… offense stack up against the Eagles D?

Let’s first look at the Giants weapons. In the passing game, it’s basically Hakeem Nicks. Manningham is unlikely to play, Smith is done for the year, so it’s likely that Hagan gets the nod at the other WR spot. He’s been better than one could have expected, but he’s not a true threat. Kevin Boss is big and strong, but not an elite TE. In the running game, it seems that Jacobs is in great form right now, so he is a concern. Bradshaw is playing solid ball, but also has had a penchant for putting the ball on the carpet.

The ring leader leading this Giant circus is Eli “The only thing I do as well as my brother is turnover the ball in crucial moments” Manning… and by the nickname included in his name, you’d guess that he can be rattled. So, how can the Eagles D attack this offense and what are the key matchups?

Asante should be back, which means that Eli is good for throwing at least one pick. With some good pressure from the pass rushers, it could be a few. The lack of playmakers (other than Nicks) in the passing game should allow Asante and his RCB confidant Dimitri Patterson to lock things down well enough to free up a safety to help in the box, likely Quintin Mikell (though it’s fair to note the Eagles struggle against the TE, so Boss could have some impact). Q and the backers play a key role in limiting Jacobs and Bradshaw in the run game. The strong and stout interior DL of the Birds should plug up holes and Cole/Parker are about as solid against the run as any DE pair in the league, so if holes are clogged the way they should be, it’ll be up to a rightfully scorned LB corps to make plays.

This could be an issue. Sims is as athletic as any LB in the game and hits like he is 30 pounds bigger than he is, but discipline in his game is highly lacking. Fokou is stronger than his size and has played the run well most of the year. He is quick and instinctual, but like Sims lacks discipline. The MIKE spot is a big question mark. Bradley has struggled all year in the passing game, but his size and strength have been an essential part of the Eagles D’s ability to shut down solid RBs this season. Can Chaney, a shorter, quicker backer, hold up as strong against the run? He looked okay last week in spot duty, but this will be his first NFL start and he’ll be facing a moose named Brandon.

Who has the advantage here? Not really sure…

What about the Birds high-flying offense against the re-Fewell-ed Giants D?

Last time out, the Giants slowed Vick down as much as anyone has all year. That said, big drops by the wideouts hurt more than the Giants gameplan did. Two dropped TDs kept the game close.

The Giants DL is probably the best overall in football. Tuck is their stud. Osi and Kiwi are solid. Jason Pierre-Paul is raw, but has been rushing the passer very well. Canty is very solid. The depth behind each spot is as good as I’ve ever seen on a defensive line in my life. How do we stop them? Good play by the OL is the first key.

Winston Justice should return this week, which is huge. While the King has played pretty well, he hasn’t covered Vick’s blindside against Justin Tuck… let’s hope he won’t have to do that this week.

The most obvious exploitable matchup is the speed of Desean and Maclin against an average at best secondary. I fully expect the Giants to gameplan this cleverly, however. Fewell’s D will play a lot of cover 2 and use the safeties as safety nets.

The bigger key in my mind, especially with Desean being banged up and a Giants D that will undoubtedly be focused (at least early) on the long ball, is getting McCoy going early. Spreading the D out and feeding him the ball a few times early will go a long way to keep the Giants D honest. The Giants LBs are probably the best set they’ve had in years, so it’s not a simple feat to get McCoy going, necessarily. However, McCoy’s ability to cut on a dime has lead him to a league leading 5 rushes of 40+ yards and a 5.3 yard per carry stat that is tops among NFC backs with 150+ carries this season (2nd in NFL to Jamaal Charles only). Throw in some of his Westbrook-esque screen plays and the offense shouldn’t struggle.

So who wins this game and why?

My optimistic side says the Birds by 21. However, the realist in me thinks the Birds pull out another nail biter by winning the turnover battle. Special teams could also be key… Akers and Rocca are having All-Pro type years, so let’s hope that their strong play continues and feeds this team with what they need.

The Giants will make their plays. Eli will throw for a bunch of yards and a TD or 2, but I suspect at least a pair of INTs. Jacobs and Bradshaw will be a handful.

All said and done, I predict the score will be lower than many expect, a 21-17 Eagles VICKtory, with a backbreaking catch and run by McCoy in the early 4th quarter.

~ by thepaintedman on December 17, 2010.

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