The New York Giants come into town with a formidable offense, but after the Arizona Cardinals terrorized Michael Vick last week, the biggest question on people’s minds this week is whether the Eagles’ offensive line – minus Jason Peters and now Jason Kelce – can give Vick enough breathing room to be effective, given how dominant the Giants front four can be.
I’m sure the Eagles watched a lot of game film this week. Hopefully for Michael Vick’s sake, he wasn’t shown archival footage of Osi Umenyiora terrorizing Winston Justice for 6 sacks (actually 4 given up by Justice) EXACTLY five years to the day of Sunday’s game.
Another guy to keep away from the video is left tackle Demetress Bell, who is replacing the injured King Dunlap (hamstring), who was replacing the injured Jason Peters (achilles). Bell – ostensibly a third-stringer – draws the unenviable assignment of trying to keep Umenyiora away from the Eagles’ QB.
Expect to see the footage anyway at home at some point during the game broadcast.
Even if Umenyiora, Pierre-Paul and company don’t knock Vick out of the game, Andy Reid’s comments this week make it clear that Vick’s happy feet, fumble-itis and penchant for throwing interceptions has put him on a….let’s skip the bad pun and just say that Reid’s patience has been tested and Nick Foles (or Trent Edwards) had better be ready. It will be interesting to see which backup quarterback is activated (or whether both will be, since using your second backup precludes you from bringing back your starter in that game).
And now, the injuries: T King Dunlap and LB Akeem Jordan are both out with hamstring injuries. WR Jeremy Maclin is expected to play. Long snapper Jon Dorenbos, WR Riley Cooper and S Colt Anderson are questionable, while LB Jamar Chaney, DE Trent Cole, RB LeSean McCoy, DT Derek Landri and WR/KR Damaris Johnson are all nursing a variety of ailments, but expected to play. For the Giants, the big news is that WR Hakeem Nicks is out, which allows the Eagles to focus more attention on last year’s breakout player, Victor Cruz. T David Diehl, LB Keith Rivers and CB Jayron Hosley are also out, while D Antrel Rolle and CB Michael Coe are questionable. CB Corey Webster, WR Domenik Hixon, RB Ahmad Bradshaw and DE Adewale Ojomo are all banged up, but expected to play.
Outlook: The problem with this game – and the Giants as an opponent with the Eagles’ offensive iine as it is presently constituted – is that Michael Vick will stand in to take a hit, and it usually turns out badly. Eli (don’t call him She-li anymore) will stand in and pick up the blitz and the extra second will kill his opponent more often than not.
So even if the Eagles get to Manning about as well as they protect Vick, that doesn’t put them on a par.
I expect the Eagles to run screens and maybe even a reverse or fake reverse and overall have a game plan to keep the Giants from pinning their ears back and coming after the quarterback. I think the Giants don’t contain their edges very well when it comes to the running game – but whether the Eagles tight ends can block well enough to make that an issue remains to be seen.
The Eagles will need much better execution to win this game. Even with the emotional high of retiring Brian Dawkins’ #20, the execution should improve over last week, but will probably not be good enough to make up for the big disparity at the line of scrimmage when the Eagles have the ball. Playing with a lead would make a huge difference, as would protecting the football.
It’s not impossible by any means for the Eagles to win this game. They have prepared for this opponent many times, and have acquitted themselves quite well over the last few years against the Giants. I’d rather know that this offense can keep the quarterback safe and effective – and until I see that, I’m not liking the Birds’ chances.
Final score: Giants 23, Eagles 18