Diary of a Giants Fan: Giants – Eagles Round 2 Preview
Coming home off a disappointing loss in San Francisco, the Giants will host the Eagles and look to put the woefully underwhelming team out of their misery. This is Diary of a Giants Fan, @JoeBianchino.
HOW IN THE HELL DOES MARIO MANNINGHAM DROP THAT PASS?! I mean C'MON! That ball couldn't have been laid in more perfectly if God himself had come down and placed it there. But it's cool. I'm totally over it, and I definitely haven't spent any of the week going all Kirk-Kahn on it, except with "Manningham", of course.
Anyway, we must press on. If Shatner has taught me anything it's that you have to put the duds behind you and look forward. I mean we all know that he could have packed it in after the debacle that was Miss Congeniality 2, but where would we be if he had? We'd have no Boston Legal, no $#*! My Dad Says - okay, bad example. Either way, in the spirit of Shatner, we put the Giants' Miss Congeniality Two behind us, and look to bust out a T.J. Hooker.
The G-men will have to recover against their old divisional foe, the Philadelphia Eagles - a team with such bravado, such bluster, that their backup quarterback had the cajones to proclaim them a "Dream Team." How's that working out Vince Young? The Eagles are reeling and in the midst of a season that reads like an old school Greek tragedy. First comes the overblown hubris, then comes the five blown fourth quarter leads, the quarterback who can't stay on the field, the occasionally dynamic wide receiver who couldn't be less interested in football, and the 3-6 record which is good enough for last in the division. This once brilliant Disney-esq dream has spun off into a Tim Burton directed nightmare where receivers have scissor hands and Danny DeVito makes a comic-book character unbelievable.
The much heralded Eagles defense has looked poor for most of the season and utterly porous at their worst. They've given away five fourth quarter leads, including surprising comebacks by the 49ers and the dreadful, John Skelton lead Cardinals. Offensively, however, the Eagles have been impressive at times this season. They're third in the league in total offense, first in rushing and tenth in passing, and that seems about right. That offense has more threats than John Travolta - and if you've seen Grease you know, dude's a triple threat. Michael Vick, while he hasn't looked like the juggernaut he was last year, is always a challenge; LeSean McCoy is quickly becoming one of the best running backs in the game; and they have at least two wide receivers, when DeSean Jackson actually decides to play football, that can score from anywhere on the field. Too often, however, they haven't been able to make the big play in the big spot, and too often they have found themselves being led by backup quarterback X late in games. Mike Vick's season has been characterized by a frailty unseen outside of a nursing home. Vick left Sunday's game with cracked ribs and is unsure if he'll play this week. Even if he does, though, you have to wonder how long can he play? The way this defensive line of gangly monsters tends to throw the undersized Vick around, how long can he survive?
As always I think this defensive line will be a key for the Giants this weekend. The Eagles offensive line is somewhat less than stellar and looks nothing short of enticing for this formidable Giants pass rush that, truthfully, hasn't been impressive these past few weeks. Statistically they may be one of the tops in the league but they have a tendency to be ineffective for most of the game, then light it up late. They're the D-Line equivalent of Oliver Platt's greatest film, Lake Placid. It goes unheard from for years, but when it finally checks in you remember why you love it so much. It's important that Tuck and the gang pressure whatever Eagles quarterback plays right from the start. The Giants secondary took a step back last week while facing receivers that would have trouble finding a starting job in any division other than the SWAC - I mean NFC West - and the Giants will likely be without the quarterback of their defense, Michael Boley. Boley was quietly having a Pro Bowl year and his absence will hurt the line backing corps. The defensive line will have to lead this unit - in stopping both the run and pass - and hope that the linebackers, minus Boley, and secondary overachieve.
Offensively, the Giants just need to play their game. Even without Bradshaw, who figures to miss Sunday's game as well, Manning has this offense clicking. Jacobs has responded well to the expectations he set for himself by whining to anyone who would listen about playing time, and the passing game has really clicked...MANNINGHAM (KAHN)!!!!!!! Given the Eagles' ineptitude against the run, Jacobs may be the key to the Giants offense this Sunday. He'll have to find success early and allow Manning to go to work. That's the best case scenario, though with the receivers healthy again Manning should be able to pass his way to success against the Eagles secondary regardless.
Given how the season has gone for these two teams you would think that the matchup clearly favors the Giants, but don't chalk it up as a win yet. This Eagles team is as desperate for a win as the Colts are for a loss, or six losses, really. 9-7 won't get a playoff spot in this NFC; if the Eagles are to realize their potential they'll have to start getting wins quickly, which they're certainly capable of doing if they ever do realize their potential. This team is remarkably talented and capable of blowing up anyone's spot - as long as DeSean Jackson's $600,000 salary doesn't keep him from "oversleeping" - just look at what they did to the Cowboys a few weeks ago.
The Giants, though they've played well, are coming off a tough loss on the west coast, and playing a divisional game at home - where, keeping with their Rubik's Cube personality, they don't really play as well. It may not be the definition of a trap game, but there's a real shot of a let down here. Additionally, they're down the dynamic speed back that could take advantage of the Eagles' weak linebackers, as well as their best linebacker, who figured to be the man to help stop Shady McCoy from running wild. This is a dangerous game for the Giants. Very dangerous, particularly when you note that in the two weeks that follow the Giants will play at the Saints and the world-beating Packers. Lose this one and you could be staring at a 4-game losing streak.
When it comes down to the game itself I don't expect the Giants to have an emotional let down. Frankly, I see them coming out pissed. They know last week's game was a missed opportunity, and they know what's coming means that they can't afford missed opportunities. Besides a week 15 game against the Redskins this is as close to a sure thing as the Giants will get for the rest of the year. They know it, they'll be coached up on it, and I just don't expect the kind of out of nowhere awful play that my years of Giants fandom and fatalistic nature would have me terrified of. LeSean McCoy will have a big game for the Eagles, particularly if Boley doesn't play. They won't stop him, they'll have to settle for containing him. Ignoring how the Giants defensive line has played for the bulk of their last few games I expect them to play a good one this week. They took advantage of this offensive line in their week three matchup and I expect them to do it again. They'll punish whatever quarterback plays. The secondary will certainly display its problems, how could they not, but I do expect them to look more like the defensive backs of two weeks ago than the disasters that showed up in the Bay-Area last week.
Offensively, I don't really see this Eagle defense containing the Giants. Hell, they couldn't stop the John Skelton lead Cardinals. That's right, John Skelton, the dynamic talent out of the powerhouse that is Fordham. Jacobs has played well lately, I certainly see him taking advantage of this poor Eagles run defense. His success will open things up for Manning and these Giants receivers. Given that the Eagles are desperate, and given the fact that this could easily be a let down game for the G-men, it'll be closer than it should be. But in the end I can't picture this Giants team being denied, they score a 27-20 win.
Check back here Sunday night for a recap of the game, and as always: Go Giants.