Eagles vs. Giants: Which Team Has the Edge in Every Phase of the Game?
Since 1990 the series has been fairly even with the Eagles holding a slim 24-22 advantage. It's hard to believe the series is this close considering 14 of the 22 series have resulted in a sweep, including a three-game set in 2000 when the Giants won all three meetings en route to the Super Bowl.
But it's been a rivalry of winning or losing streaks depending on what perspective you take.
During the previously mentioned time frame, New York had a nine-game winning streak from August 31, 1997 - January 7, 2001. And it's not like the Giants were barely getting by either. Of the nine wins, only two were decided by seven points or less.
The Eagles recently returned the favor as the reeled off six-straight wins from December 7, 2008 - December 19, 2010. The Eagles had some blowouts, but three of the six wins were decided by seven points or less, including last year's Miracle at the Meadowlands, highlighted by DeSean Jackson's 65-yard walk-off punt return.
If history does repeat itself the Giants will win Sunday at the New Meadowlands and then win a couple more before the Eagles go on a run.
At this point would anyone be surprised?
The Eagles are in free-fall and the Giants have been playing well over the last couple weeks.
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Tom Coughlin figured out Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles in last year's 38-31 heartbreaking loss.
The Giants completely dominated the Eagles for the first 52 minutes and then fell apart. But the blueprint was handed out to the rest of the league.
Coughlin uncovered ways to slow down Vick and how to exploit a soft defense. Since that game the Eagles are 3-9 and have lost to teams of various styles thanks to Coughlin.
Meanwhile Andy Reid can't figure out how to convert short-yardage situations, hold a fourth quarter lead or put together two quality games in a row. It has him sitting on the hot seat, at least in the minds of the fans.
The only coaching matchup that should be interesting is the matchup between Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride and Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo. Each coach catches a ton of criticism from their respective fan bases and rightfully so.
Gilbride can string together predictable play calls while Castillo constantly pushes all the wrong buttons.
The overall edge has to go to the Giants.
Coughlin simply has Reid's number right now. Gilbride could literally tell Castillo what play the Giants are about to run and Castillo still might not know how to stop it.
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Right now Eli Manning makes Michael Vick look like a backup quarterback.
Manning cut down his picks and has put together some clutch wins.
Vick on the other hand is a turnover machine who can't engineer a comeback of any kind.
Outside of the quarterbacks, the Eagles probably have the better skill position players although DeSean Jackson is a huge question mark.
Jackson was benched last week after he missed a special teams meeting the Saturday before the Eagles played the Cardinals. If he plays like a versatile player capable of opening up a defense, Philadelphia will get a huge offensive boost.
But if he pouts, he will bring down Vick, LeSean McCoy and the rest of the offense.
The other caveat about each offense is the play calling.
It was already mentioned how predictable Gilbride is. It should also be mentioned how equally predictable Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg are.
As it stands I will side with the Giants because Coughlin will create an effective game plan to exploit every aspect of Philadelphia's defense.
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Philadelphia sent the blitz a lot more often against the Arizona Cardinals last week. It was Jim Johnson-esque, but it was a nice change of pace from the standard defense that was getting gashed through eight games this season.
It ultimately didn't matter because Juan Castillo still managed to put players in horrendous situations. Anyone see rookie Jaiquawn Jarrett covering Larry Fitzgerald late in the fourth quarter?
That dandy of a matchup led to the game-winning touchdown for the Cardinals.
New York doesn't have a ton of talent defensively, but they are piecing things together to have one of the more dominant units in the NFL. On top of it, they have Michael Vick figured out.
They do an excellent job of keeping Vick in the pocket and forcing him to succeed with accurate throws instead of elusive runs. Even when the Giants get pressure on Vick, there is little room for him to escape, which is the hardest thing for any team to do.
It's difficult to side with an Eagles defense considering they are vulnerable to the run, they can't shut down any receivers and they have been inconsistent in sacking the quarterback over the last two weeks.
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It's hard to ignore DeSean Jackson's punt return from a year ago, but I'm going to do it.
How many times is something like that going to happen? Jackson may get may return one, maybe two punts on Sunday?
The real question I have going into this game is: Can Alex Henery handle the New Meadowlands?
It's unlikely the game will come down to a field goal based on the recent history of this series, but if it does, I don't trust Henery.
This is not the same stadium that gave David Akers fits, but the wind can still swirl and cause the best kickers in the NFL to struggle.
Henery is 14-of-17 on the year with only one kick made over 40 yards. He gagged against the 49ers in the clutch and he hasn't instilled much confidence in other games.
Oddly enough Lawrence Tynes hasn't exactly been setting the world on fire, but he does have significant experience on side.
Tynes sent the Giants to the Super Bowl in the 2007 season with a 47-yarder at Lambeau Field in frozen conditions.
I'll take that over a rookie.
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The last time Andy Reid's backside was roasting on the hot seat the team rallied for a win in Washington.
Too bad the Eagles aren't playing in Washington against the Redskins. New York has a real team, with a real quarterback and a real coach.
I saw point-spreads for this game hovering around three in favor of the Giants last week. For whatever reason Vegas respects the Eagles like it's nobody's business and I won't be surprised if it stays around a field goal.
And even though the Eagles lost to an awful Cardinals team as a 14-point favorite and the Giants lost as a three-point dog, I can see the Giants still laying a small number.
That would seem too easy.
Let's not forget the Giants rolled out their JV squad in Philly and won as a nine-point dog. With a healthy team I can't see the Eagles hanging.
This could be a job-saving game for Reid. If it holds that much meaning, I'm sure a lot of Eagles fans will be pulling for Big Blue.
New York 31, Philadelphia 17