The good news is that the NFC East is working out to be historically bad to where an 8-8 record might just win the division. It doesn’t look like there will be any wild cards coming from this group, which makes these division games incredibly huge wins and equally damaging losses.
The Eagles are coming off a 52-20 walloping in Denver. After last year’s 4-12 record, Philadelphia has a new head coach, a porous defense, and a hurry-up offense that isn’t scoring enough points.
At 1-3, they’re one game better than the Giants, but a Giants win could put them right back into the divisional race. That’s right, no matter how badly the Giants have played, they haven’t played themselves out of this dance.
Somebody in the division will take care of their division games. Whoever it is will squeak into the playoffs with very low expectations. Remind anyone of the past two Super Bowl winners from this division? That’s why you never say never, folks.
GIANTS ON OFFENSE
In order to win a game, the Giants’ offensive line has to get better. Last week’s game in Kansas City showed a little of that needed improvement. With David Baas and Chris Snee out again, it looks like Jim Cordle, David Diehl (in this week for Brewer at right guard) and company will be on the hot seat once again.
It’s not just the offensive line that has struggled. The Giants can’t run the ball outside either tackle box because the tight ends can’t block. Adrien Robinson has the most blocking potential, but he’s still injured.
Brandon Myers is not a blocker and Bear Pascoe is the very definition of mediocre. At least Larry Donnell has some tools to work with, but he is still very raw.
With the release of Da’Rel Scott, the team has finally committed to David Wilson, who is really this season’s greatest hope. The coaches need to keep feeding him the ball and lining him up, and especially try to get him the ball in space. Without the threat of David Wilson, this offense has no chance.
The passing game is this team’s biggest puzzle. It’s obvious that Eli Manning is not going to have a lot of time to throw this year. A shorter, quick-hitting game plan has to be established for the talent at quarterback and receiver to thrive. It’s almost criminal that the game planning can’t get Manning any easy throws.
The Eagles’ defense has gone to a 3-4, which has kept their best front seven player Trent Cole sackless thus far. They don’t rush the passer well, and they don’t stop the run all that well either. The Eagles’ secondary has been porous too.
If the Giants can’t move and score against this defense, then they have bigger problems than we thought. Theoretically, Manning should have a field day and Wilson should have a breakout day. If only one of those things happens, the Giants should win.
GIANTS ON DEFENSE
The Giants are banged up at defensive tackle this week, which means rookie Johnathan Hankins should get a uniform and some important snaps. We wouldn’t be surprised to see the coaches start phasing out Shaun Rogers for Hankins in the coming weeks, as this team needs to get younger.
The defensive ends still need to get to the quarterback, but Michael Vick remains a threat with his legs and must be contained. Look for another rookie, defensive end Damontre Moore, to get many snaps as his mobility will come in handy chasing down Vick.
The Giants’ best contain pass rush defensive end is Matthias Kiwanuka. He’s not getting to the quarterback, but he’s holding his edge, which gives him value against mobile quarterbacks.
Last week the defense was hurt by quarterback scrambles right up the gut, which means the defensive tackles were being blocked.
LeSean McCoy is the Eagles’ best offensive player and is a really bad matchup for the Giants’ lumbering linebackers.. Only Jacquian Williams can stay with McCoy, but he can be out-thought and out-maneuvered. The Giants’ defensive front will really have to maintain their lanes as McCoy is especially dangerous on the cutback.
Vick and McCoy breaking the line of scrimmage really scares us. With Will Hill probably returning from suspension, look for the Giants to bring out their three-safety set. Mark Herzlich may only get limited snaps against the Eagles’ hurry-up offense.
Big playmaker DeSean Jackson only caught two passes last week, which means he’ll really be chomping at the bit to make something happen. The Giants’ corners, who are also banged up, will have to play off, give him the underneath stuff, and tackle well.
If the defense can’t get off the field against Philly’s hurry-up offense then they will tire quickly. Making plays on third down is the biggest key to this game.
GIANTS ON SPECIALS
This week is the meeting of two very bad special teams groups. The Eagles’ only kickoff coverage last week yielded a 105-yard touchdown return. They also had a punt blocked. They do have a dangerous returner in Damaris Johnson, a second-year player who is undersized but quick and fast.
Steve Weatherford has yet to have a good game. His directional punting has to improve. Look for lots of ugly, 40-yard punts out-of-bounds this week, which is exactly what Tom Coughlin will want. Let’s hope the offense doesn’t force Weatherford to punt out of the shadow of his own end zone, as that’s when bad things happen.
The anticipated return of Will Hill should improve punt coverage. Hill is a very good gunner, and playing him opposite rookie Damontre Moore gives the Giants two potentially dominating gunners.
Specials also need to get physical linebacker Allen Bradford more involved. This youngster is a natural special teamer who hasn’t yet made an impact. It’s time that he started making some plays.
The Eagles aren’t a very good team, but neither are the Giants. This Sunday’s winner could be determined by a simple bounce of the ball. We’re guessing that the Giants will start getting some of those bounces that seemed to follow them in their Road Warrior days. Giants, 27-23.