Eagles-Giants Prediction: Brandon Jacobs Makes a "Giant" Difference

Joe KleiberCorrespondent IJanuary 11, 2009

This will be intense, because these teams absolutely hate each other. There is no bigger rivalry this weekend than this one.

The Philadelphia Eagles have been on a roll and beat the Giants 20-14 a few weeks ago at Giants Stadium. The big difference now and then is a healthy, 6-4" 264 pound juggernaut running back, Brandon Jacobs.

Jacobs missed most of the game in their meeting at Giants Stadium, and if these past few weeks are any indication of how important he is to the Giants offense, he will be the difference.

The Eagles live and die by Brian Westbrook and Donovan McNabb. Andy Reid might be fighting for his job, because he has had a long tenure and zero Super Bowl trophies to show for it.

Eagles management is antsy for a championship so this might be the last game for Andy Reid as Eagles head coach. Westbrook has been a "Giant killer" this season.

In two games against the Giants this season, he has 157 rushing yards, one TD and nine catches for 105 receiving yards. Last week, he was the difference against the Vikings and will need to come up big once again for the Eagles.

McNabb has had a weird season. He saw himself struggling big time and benched against the Ravens in week 12.

Since then? He is 4-1 with 1,146 passing yards and nine TD passes. When McNabb is on, he's one of the best QBs in the game. The Giants defense has been problematic for him at times, but he's been successful against them this season.

The Eagles receivers are in the same boat as the Giants. They lack a true No. 1 receiver. DeShaun Jackson has had an impressive rookie season, but has had some big drops. Kevin Curtis has played well lately, but has also had his share of drops.

In fact, their best receiver right now might be a back-up tight-end in Brent Celek. Celek replaced L.J. Smith at times this season, including last week and some might argue he's better. Last week, he had six catches for 56 yards against the Vikings and could cause problems for the Giants.

The Eagles defense has been on a roll. They shut down Dallas in the season finale and forced turn-overs almost every drive. Last week, they struggled against Adrian Peterson in the first-half, but Peterson was stuffed in the second.

Tarvaris Jackson could do nothing against the Eagles' fierce pass-rush and Eli Manning might find the same problems.

On the other side, the Giants provide one of the best running-back trios in football. Their "Earth, wind and fire" combination of Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw rushed for 2469 rushing yards, the best in the NFL.

It was the first time a team had two 1,000 yard rushers (Jacobs and Ward) since Michael Vick and Warrick Dunn did it a few years ago. They also boast one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. If the Eagles can't stop this rushing attack, they won't win the game.

Eli Manning has overcome so much adversity and criticism in his career and proved everybody wrong last year in their road to the championship. Manning is now without his top wide receiver in Plaxico Burress and needs Amani Toomer, Domenik Hixon and Steve Smith to step up.

They also have tight-end Kevin Boss, who torched the Eagles for six catches, 69 yards and 1 TD in their first meeting this year. Boss could be an x-factor for the Giants.

The Giants defense has struggled at times this year, but has been consistent for the most part. They struggled in their last four games, giving up 88 points.

The Eagles have to take advantage, because the Giants' Justin Tuck, their top pass-rusher, is hobbled and may not be at full strength. The Giants need to stop Westbrook and McNabb to win.

Prediction: PHI 14, NYG 17

This game will come down to the final possession, but the Giants running attack will prove too much for the Eagles. The Giants will stop McNabb and Westbrook late in the game to win.

Boom: Brian Westbrook, Eagles defense

Westbrook usually always has big games against the Giants. In their first meeting, the Giants stopped him, but the second meeting he torched them. He will have one or two huge runs in this one for big yardage.

The Eagles defense has played so well lately, they will step up here and make Eli Manning struggle. Predictions: Westbrook: 80 rushing yds 5 catches 50 yds 1 td; Eagles defense: 3 sacks 1 int 1 fumble 17 pa

Boom: Brandon Jacobs, Giants defense

Jacobs will be the work-horse back this week as he looks to get back to pounding away and scaring the Eagles defense. Jacobs has had much success against Philly. In two games, he had 178 rushing yards and 2 TDs.

He will come up big and be the difference. The Giants defense will step up. They are rested and ready for the Eagles. Justin Tuck claimed he'd play "on one leg" if he had to. Expect them to bring the pressure against McNabb and force him into mistakes. Predictions: Jacobs: 110 rushing yds 2 tds; Giants defense: 3 sacks 2 ints 14 pa

Busts: Donovan McNabb and Eli Manning

I think both quarterbacks will struggle, because of the weather and the fact both defenses have played so well lately. Neither has much in the receiving core and it will come back to bite them. Predictions: McNabb: 230 passing yds 1 td 2 ints; Manning: 200 passing yds 0 tds 1 int

Sleepers: Kevin Boss, Brent Celek, Kevin Curtis

I like Boss to have a similar game he had at Philly earlier this year. He will be Eli's security-blanket and come up with some big catches. Celek has been impressive when he's filled in for L.J. Smith and if Smith doesn't play again, Celek will step-up.

The Giants will be focused on Westbrook and Jackson, so Curtis could find room to get open. Predictions: Boss: 5 catches 60 yds; Celek: 6 catches 60 yds; Curtis: 4 catches 77 yds

This might be the best game of the weekend so make sure you peel your eyes on this one. Enjoy the game and watch Jacobs run-over Eagles defenders to a Giants' victory.


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