East Rutherford, N.J.'s MetLife Stadium is the scene this Sunday night for an important NFC East matchup between the visiting Philadelphia Eagles and the host New York Giants. This will be the second meeting of the two long-time rivals in 2011, with the Giants easily defeating the Eagles back on Sept. 25th, 29-16. Kickoff is slated for 8:20 PM, and the early NFL odds favor the Giants by -5 1/2 points.
Giants QB Eli Manning was splendid in the September meeting, tossing 4 TD passes, as New York snapped a six-game winless streak against the Eagles. Philadelphia was rendered ineffective offensively when QB Michael Vick was forced from the game after suffering an injury to his right (non-throwing) hand. QB Mike Kafka replaced him for the second straight week and although he was somewhat effective in the previous appearance versus Atlanta, against the Giants, he went just 4 of 7 for 35 yards and threw 2 interceptions. The Eagle loss offset RB LeSean McCoy's 128 yards on 24 rushing attempts, while Giants WR Victor Cruz, playing only because of injuries to starters Dominique Hixson and Mario Manningham, turned in a strong performance, catching just 3 balls, but scored twice.
The Eagles were expected to be among the NFC's elite this season, but things haven't gone according to plan. Their most recent setback occurred this past Sunday when they fell to the visiting Arizona Cardinals, 21-17. Philadelphia, for the fifth time in 2011, had a fourth-quarter lead and for the fifth time, blew it and dropped to 3-6. Cards backup QB John Skelton's 5-yard TD pass to Early Doucet with just under 2 minutes remaining provided the margin of victory. Eagles QB Michael Vick suffered one of his worst games as an Eagle, hitting on just 16 of 34 passes for 128 yards and two interceptions. This was supposed to be an Allpro year for Vick. The Eagles were playing without WR DeSean Jackson, who reportedly was benched for missing a team meeting.
Philadelphia's defense started off strong, with Asante Samuel intercepting Skelton's first-quarter pass and returning it 20 yards for a touchdown. Arizona's pass game started clicking however, with Allpro WR Larry Fitzgerald snagging 7 passes for 146 yards and 2 TDs. The Eagles pass rush was moderately effective, sacking Skelton 4 times, but too many missed tackles and even more damaging, 97 yards on 11 penalties were whistled on Philadelphia.
New York fell a bit short in San Francisco on Sunday afternoon, losing 27-20, spoiling Eli Manning's fourth-quarter comeback attempt. Manning had driven the Giants 70 yards to the 49ers 20-yard line, completing two lengthy 4th-down passes. However, on 4th-and-2, his attempted pass was batted down by San Francisco's Justin Smith. Manning hit on 26 of 40 passes for 311 yards, good for 2 TDs, but the 49ers also intercepted him twice. WRs Victor Cruz and Mario Manningham combined for 12 receptions, 161 yards and a touchdown, but it wasn't enough to drop the Giants to 6-3.
New York's defense performed solidly, recording 2 sacks and limiting the 49ers to 77 yards rushing on 20 carries. LB Michael Boley went down with a hamstring injury in the 2nd half and didn't return. His status for Sunday's game is questionable. CB Aaron Ross also went down with a quadriceps bruise.
It's pretty much do or die for the Eagles at this point. The so-called "Dream Team" has taken two steps forward, one step back all season, and it's difficult imagining them turning it around this late, and although New England is next on their schedule, looking ahead serves them no purpose. For the Giants, its become almost customary for them to rely on Manning to don his Superman cape and save the day. They still appear to be the cream of the NFC East crop, but Dallas is gaining momentum and is just one game back. They also have Drew Brees and the Saints coming up next week, but make no mistake, Philadelphia needs to be their only focus.
|NFL OFFENSIVE RANKINGS||TOTAL||Passing||Rushing|
|NEW YORK GIANTS||11||374.2||5||285.0||29||89.2|
|NFL DEFENSIVE RANKINGS||TOTAL||Passing||Rushing|
|NEW YORK GIANTS||17||358.9||17||237.3||20||121.6|