Last season, the New York Giants’ playoff hopes were dashed by the Philadelphia Eagles in the greatest comeback in NFL history. Revenge has come in the form of a Week 11 matchup against the sputtering Eagles with an opportunity to deliver them with a season-ending knockout blow in MetLife Stadium.
The Giants return home after a devastating loss to the surprising San Francisco 49ers and hope to right the ship against a crumbling divisional rival. Murmurs have already begun about the Giants’ inability to play well in the second half of the season and bad memories of their countless collapses under head coach Tom Coughlin have Giant fans cautiously optimistic with the Eagles—last season’s dagger—coming into the Meadowlands.
The Eagles, meanwhile, have been more so a nightmare for Philadelphia than the “Dream Team” they appeared so certain to be. Head coach Andy Reid and his boys have lost three of their last five games—their most recent loss perhaps their most disappointing came this past week against the lowly Arizona Cardinals and their backup quarterback, John Skelton.
With the Giants' eyes set on a playoff appearance, they must turn it around quickly against an Eagles team that has severely underachieved. Their 29-16 victory in Week 3 was a start, but now they must finish the Eagles off once and for all to keep pace in the NFC.
Let’s look at the keys to a successful Giants football game in Week 11.
The best way to put the Eagles away is to pummel them early and pummel them often. The Giants field one of the most potent offensive units in the NFL and have the ability to do just that—Eli Manning passed for 254 yards and four touchdowns in their 29-16 win in Week 3.
The Giants will be without running back Ahmad Bradshaw who rushed for 86 yards on 15 carries and accounted for 53 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown against the Eagles in their last meeting, but Big Blue still brings an insurmountable amount of talent to MetLife Stadium.
The Giants and Eagles Week 3 matchup was the game where we finally saw Victor Cruz break out, igniting an exciting season for the second-year receiver from UMass. Cruz had three receptions for 110 yards and two phenomenal touchdowns in the game.
The Giants jumped out to a 14-0 lead in Week 3 but allowed the Eagles to slowly climb back before slamming the door shut on them with 13 points in the fourth quarter. The Giants need to keep attacking on offense, putting the Eagles' defense on their heels and leaving their offense with no chance to keep pace.
This season, LeSean McCoy has become one of the top running backs in the league. Fortunately, the Giants have done a decent job, not stopping the league’s best rushers, but containing them.
The Giants must contain LeSean McCoy, allowing him to get whatever yardage he is going to rack up, but limiting the impact it actually has on the game—and most importantly, the scoreboard.
Thus far, McCoy has been the home run hitter for the Eagles. In Week 3, McCoy was the spark that kept the Eagles in the game while Michael Vick and Mike Kafka struggled at quarterback. He rushed for 128 yards and a touchdown on just 24 carries.
The Giants must eliminate the success McCoy has on the ground in order to keep the Eagles from controlling this game.
Do not punt the ball to DeSean Jackson. Plain and simple.
Last season’s punter, Matt Dodge, failed to get that. This season’s punter, Steve Weatherford, won’t dare make the same mistake.
After the greatest comeback in NFL history by the Eagles, rookie punter Dodge failed to take orders from head coach Tom Coughlin after taking a poor snap and punted the ball to DeSean Jackson with 14 seconds left. Jackson promptly returned the ball for one of the most memorable touchdowns in NFL history as time expired, giving the Eagles the 38-31 victory.
The Giants lost the next game against the future Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers and were eliminated from the playoffs the next week despite beating the Washington Redskins, 17-14, and finishing with a 10-6 record.
Jackson’s game-winning and essentially season-ending punt return at “The Miracle at the New Meadowlands” last season is not going to be something that happens again. Ever.
If it does, it’s fair to assume Tom Coughlin’s head will explode right there on the sideline.
Do not punt the ball to DeSean Jackson.
This season has been less-than-impressive for the 2010 NFL Comeback Player of the Year and it’s only gotten worse for Vick as the weeks have gone by. Teams have come with pressure on Vick and hit him at every opportunity, looking to knock him out of the game or hurt him enough to affect the game.
The Giants are no different.
In past meetings, the Giants have done a great job getting after Vick. They will need to continue that success in Week 11 at MetLife Stadium.
In their Week 3 meeting, Vick came into the game with bruised ribs. This time, Vick is questionable with two broken ribs after taking some tough hits in the Eagles’ loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 10.
If Vick plays, the Giants will attack him from every angle with the intent to make the pain even worse for the Pro Bowl quarterback. And if they can do that successfully, there’s no reason to believe the Giants will not be successful in shutting the Eagles' offense down.
As has been the story all season, Eli Manning is the biggest key to a Big Blue victory against Michael Vick and the Eagles.
In the past, the Eagles have been a very tough task for Manning, but his performance in Week 3—16-of-23 passing for 254 yards and four touchdowns—has carried over throughout the season and should continue against the Eagles' 11th-ranked pass defense.
Eli Manning has been the cornerstone to the Giants’ outstanding offense and has done a great job proving himself to be one of the elite quarterbacks in the league. He faces a steep challenge in the Eagles’ talented secondary, but another solid performance for Manning could add to the MVP-caliber season he has led.
Manning must spread the ball around, making smart decisions in light of the men covering his receivers down the field, Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. In Week 3, seven different players had at least one reception in the Giants' 29-16 win. If Manning is on his game, Mario Manningham, Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Jake Ballard should all see numerous chances in the passing game.
If the Giants can capitalize on the Eagles’ season-long struggles, a victory at home could be a major boost towards the Giants’ surge for a playoff birth and the NFC East title as they fight through the most difficult part of their 2011 schedule.