The only force more powerful than Michael Vick on the football field is Mother Nature.
According to the forecast on Weather.com, she could unleash enough rain to give the New York Giants a serious advantage in their pursuit to end a six-game losing streak against their divisional rival.
The Eagles have benefited from playing the St. Louis Rams and the Atlanta Falcons on the road to open up the season. Both teams play on artificial surfaces inside domes and don't have to deal with the elements.
How will the Eagles react to the potentially poor conditions in South Philly Sunday? And are the Eagles even at a disadvantage?
There is always debate about who benefits more from poor conditions. Is it the offense, who knows where it's going and can make defenders loose their footing by running precise routes? Or is it the defense, who gets to face an offense that cannot cut as effectively and thus make it easier to cover?
There really isn't a universal answer. Each game is evaluated individually. In this case, the Giants have a huge advantage.
The Eagles are built on speed. No one is going to deny that. All of their skill position players are fast enough to burn any cornerback, to elude any linebacker and to turn something out of nothing.
Sprinkle in some rain from the heavens and the speed is neutralized enough to give the defenders enough time to stop players like Vick, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy.
Go back a couple paragraphs and think about the pro-offense statement. If the offense knows where it is going they can run precise routes and gain an advantage.
But what if the cornerbacks come up and play bump coverage? The cornerbacks can push small receivers like Jackson and Maclin around and cause them to lose their footing and not allow them to get into their routes.
If that happens, there goes the timing of the offense and you can kiss the passing game goodbye.
The wet turf will not allow Jackson and Maclin to get enough traction to blow by the press coverage either so that idea goes out the window as well.
How about McCoy? The Eagles could get the running game going, right?
There should be some serious doubts there as well if a heavy rainfall comes down. Think about the numerous runs where McCoy started off in one direction only to cut against the grain and pick up substantial yardage.
A saturated field will eliminate the cut backs and force McCoy to move in one direction. Judging how average the offensive line has looked in run blocking situations, it doesn't bode well for the Eagles.
Of course, there is always Vick, who can overcome anything. Too bad he can't throw on his cape and figure out a solution to this potential problem. Vick is not a mudder. He's a sprinter who cuts, turns and spins his way out of the grasp of would-be tacklers.
Logic says the other team should be hurt equally, right? Not entirely in this case.
The Giants passing game probably won't do a whole lot even though their receivers have a little more size to handle a press coverage. Actually, forget about the passing game with the secondary fielded by the Eagles.
The real advantage for the Giants is gained through their running game.
New York has a big back in Brandon Jacobs who can wear a defense down. Jacobs who is listed at 246 pounds on NFL.com is not going to beat you on the perimeter. He will put his big old noggin down and run the ball directly into the heart of opposing defenses. A slow, muddy track isn't going to stop that.
The scary part for the Eagles is their biggest weakness right now lies directly in his path.
Yes, the Eagles reshuffled the linebackers and Jamar Chaney is now the starting middle linebacker. But don't think for a second the Giants won't figure out ways to bring undersized weakside linebacker Casey Matthews into some plays.
The wide-nine approach implemented by Eagles' defensive line coach Jim Washburn will also expose huge gaps in the line, which so far have not been adequately filled by the linebackers.
The unfortunate thing for Eagles fans is Philadelphia clearly has the better team right now. If this game were played in a dome, Philadelphia wins by at least double-digits. If the weather is fine off the corner of Broad and Pattison tomorrow the same will hold true.
But if Mother Nature rears her ugly head Sunday afternoon, the Giants will pull off the upset.
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