The NFC East has always been one of the most contentious conferences within the NFL. Historically, these teams reside in the upper echelon of the league and games are consistently close, hard-fought contests. This weekend’s game between the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants should be no different.
Both teams have been playing well over the last few weeks and are fighting for the top spot in the conference. The Eagles and the Cowboys are tied for the top spot with 4-1 records, while the Giants, at 3-2, are lurking only a game behind.
The Giants, with three wins in a row, are riding an Eli Manning new-found confidence. The team installed a new “West Coast” offense and it took Manning a few games to adjust to the new schemes and alignments. Since then the team is averaging over 30 points per game. Manning’s touchdown to interceptions ratio is down to 8:1, a far cry from recent years when he led the league in turnovers.
The Giants will miss their top running back, Rashad Jennings and will have to rely on rookie Andre Williams. Williams has been surprisingly successful with his physical running style. He rushed for 65-yards and a touchdown in relief of Jennings last week.
A main reason for Manning’s passing resurgence has been the success of the Giants’ bruising tight end Larry Donnell. He and fellow tight end Daniel Fells have caught seven of Eli’s 11 touchdown passes. Victor Cruz, the salsa-dancing receiver, is always a threat to break a long pass and is a must to stop for the Philadelphia Eagles defense.
The Eagles, on the other hand, are a highly explosive team. Led by Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy, they have the tools to score on every play. McCoy, last year’s NFL rushing leader is not as productive this season, but his sidekick, Darren Sproles is quick, shifty and explosive. He can elude tackles anywhere and break for a long gain anytime. He is also a threat on kick returns.
In the passing game, Jeremy Maclin has returned from a major knee injury and is having a stellar season. With Nick Foles, last year’s record setting quarterback, the Eagles are never out of a game. They already have several second half comebacks after falling behind early.
Zach Ertz and Brent Celek can give any teams problems from the tight end position. Their ability to run seam routes combined with their speed and size will be problematic for the Giants’ linebackers.
This game may come down to which defense is the most successful. Both units have played well at times, but have also had their problems. New York seems to be forming a solid secondary that is a big plus against Chip Kelley’s fast pace offense. The Giants, with their number 18-ranked defense have the edge over the Philadelphia Eagles’ number 28.
This game should be more about the offense. The Philadelphia Eagles are scoring over 31 points per game, tops in the league. Meanwhile, the Giants are scoring over 26 points. Last year the teams split their series but the Eagles won the division and headed to the playoffs where they were eliminated in the first round. New York leads the all-time series 85-77-2.
Commentary By Hans Benes
Image courtesy of Bari D – License