The Eagles already were able to down the New York Giants at home once this season and now they head into New Meadowlands to play the Giants on the road. This is arguably the biggest game of the season for both teams. The Eagles have been able to beat the Giants five games straight, with one of those being in the postseason.
Philadelphia enters the game at 9-4 and first place in the NFC East with a 3-1 record in the division. The Eagles are rolling, and are coming off a close win in Dallas last week.
The Giants are also 9-4, but are behind the Eagles due to their two division losses. A win on Sunday would give them the division lead. Luckily for Philly fans, the Giants are forced to prepare for this game on a short week due to the Vikings' stadium issues.
When the Eagles and Giants matched up in Week 11, it was a 27-17 Philadelphia win. That was in Philadelphia, and this is going to be an even more difficult task now that the Eagles are on the road.
Here are five keys to an Eagles' win in New York:
This is going to be a defensive game, as the Giants have the second-best defense in the NFL, just behind San Diego. In the last matchup, the Giants defense did an excellent job of containing Michael Vick and the rushing game, forcing the Eagles to rely entirely on the pass.
But there is a trend in the Eagles' past few games. When the ball is handed off to LeSean McCoy, not only does he usually gain decent yardage, it opens up the play-action pass.
When a team is playing a defense as solid as the Giants, all doors need to be opened to gain yards and keep the ball moving. McCoy has shown that he can get the job done of the ground, and as soon as the defense starts to lean, the Eagles go over the top for some big passing plays.
The problem with the Eagles is that they are trying to run the play-action without establishing the rushing game first. This type of play may have worked against non-aggressive defenses, but the Giants defense is fast and incredibly aggressive.
Andy Reid is a smart coach. I'm just not sure why he is thinking defenses will bite on the play-action, when the ball has not been handed off once the entire game?
Either way, the rushing game with McCoy will be an effective tool against this tough Giants defense.
Michael Vick has a cannon. For several games straight now, the Eagles have opened with a deep shot down the field with enormous success. The DeSean Jackson-and-Vick combo deep down the field is almost unstoppable, just because of the former's speed and the latter's arm strength.
The opening play is not the only time should try to throw the ball deep. There is still the rest of the game to take some chances down the field. The Eagles have one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL, and they have big-play opportunities all four quarters.
Vick needs to test the Giants safeties and see if they can match the speed and athleticism of his receivers. This is a tough secondary, and it is showing that no QB wants to test them on the deep pass. This needs to change when Vick lines up with Jackson and Jeremy Maclin flanking him.
This is also a great way for the Eagles to jump out to an early lead and help quiet down that rocking New York crowd.
The Eagles offensive line has done an absolutely terrible job protecting Michael Vick over the past few weeks. Not only is their almost instant pressure, but Vick usually takes a hit after he throws the ball and finds himself on the turf on most plays.
During the last Giants game, there was some serious hits that Vick took that made most Eagles fans hold their breath. Since Vick's rib injury earlier in the season, it would seem that protecting him would be a top priority.
The Eagles offensive line must step up. They are playing a brutal Giants defensive line that has been able to get QBs on the ground better than anyone in the NFL. The Giants are currently tied for first in the NFL with a massive 39 sacks this season.
Someone please block Justin Tuck this time around.
Last week when the Eagles were playing Dallas, Stewart Bradley went down with another injury this season and is more than likely done for the year. This leaves the middle linebacker position open to two players: rookie Jamar Chaney and Moise Fokou.
With Chaney having been penciled in as the second-string player, he is now the starter.
Bradley is a huge loss to the Eagles defense, especially to its run defense and when the Giants have begin to develop their nasty rushing attack late in the season. So this means that a lot of the pressure is going to be placed squarely on the shoulders of Chaney.
Chaney has shown some very impressive tackles and coverage so far this season, but this will be his first career start. Unfortunately, it's his first career start in the Eagles' biggest game of the season.
Chaney will have to defend against the combo of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw the entire game, but also has to cover against Kevin Boss in the passing game.
Hopefully, Chaney is better in coverage than Bradley has been this season.
In the teams' last game, the Eagles defense forced five turnovers.
You could make the case that the only reason the Eagles won that game was due strictly to the turnovers by the Giants. That last fumble by Eli Manning was essentially the play that sealed the game for the Eagles.
However, it's hard to lose a game in the NFL when your defense is able to force five turnovers.
The Eagles defense needs to do this again. With the way the Giants defense has been playing, there is almost no way to win the game without some turnovers.
The Eagles defense is definitely capable of doing this, and Manning has been throwing interceptions like it's his job. Not to mention, Bradshaw has had a serious case of the fumbles this season that the Eagles were able to exploit.
Without any turnovers, the Giants will win this game with little difficulty.
How many times have we seen a playoff-deciding game come between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants?
This is a must-win game for both teams, and you know it's going to be close all the way through. It was a great matchup earlier in the season and that shouldn't change when playoff hopes are on the line.
This may be the best game of the weekend.
I'm thinking that the Eagles just have the Giants' number. They have won five straight against them, and it would be surprising to see a loss in such a critical part of the season. The Eagles have been on fire, and Michael Vick has been a leader.
The Giants may contain Vick, but the Eagles are just too much to handle. The Giants' injuries and turnovers will catch up with them by the end of the game.
My prediction: Eagles 34, Giants 31