Eagles quarterback Mike Vick should return to the starting lineup against the Giants on Sunday. Credit: Getty Images
The Giants and Eagles lock up for the second time in three weeks, meaning Big Blue is the first team to get a second crack at Philadelphia head coach Chip Kelly’s uptempo attack.
But since that first matchup, a 36-21 Eagles’ win in Week 5, things have changed for both franchises. The Giants (1-6) finally earned their first win last week, while the Eagles (3-4) are back in the NFC East race — although they’re already dealing the annual Michael Vick injury drama. The elusive but fragile signal caller missed the past two weeks due to a bum hamstring, but will likely get the start on Sunday. His leg is healing and his backup, Nick Foles, is dealing with concussion symptoms.
Big Blue’s defense has played well in recent weeks, as they’ve yet to yield a point in the last six quarters. It’s a far cry from the last time they faced Philadelphia when Foles was 16-of-25 for 197 yards and two touchdown passes in second-half relief. But head coach Tom Coughlin and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell think the glitches have been fixed. And with key guys like Jason Pierre-Paul getting healthy and Justin Tuck slowly rounding back to form, the Giants head into this game confident despite owning just one win.
Three things to watch for ...
1. Vick returns
If the Week 5 loss was any indication, the Giants defense will have its hands full trying to corral Vick. The slight quarterback was quite sturdy in holding up against the Giants’ pass rush when he tallied 183 yards of total offense, including 79 yards on the ground, before bowing out with the injury. Fewell insists his defense has learned from those breakdowns and will do a better job of containing Vick and make him beat them from the pocket. If not, the Giants defense will not like what they see from the dual-threat quarterback.
2. Runner, runner
The Eagles have LeSean McCoy, one of the best all-around running backs in the NFL. The Giants, meanwhile, don’t know who will be the primary ball carrier. The pool to choose from might not garner much confidence from its fanbase. It’ll either be Peyton Hillis, who was on the street just a week ago before signing a free-agent deal, rookie Michael Cox, who started last week’s game with a flurry (22 rushing yards on the opening drive), only to wilt as the game went on, or bruising veteran Brandon Jacobs, who missed last week’s game with a hamstring injury and has barely practiced since then. If the Giants don’t gain some semblance of balance (they did rush the ball 32 times last week), it could make the offense one-dimensional and force quarterback Eli Manning to shoulder most of the load.
3. Fresh and clean
Manning arguably had his best game of the year last week when he didn’t commit a turnover for the first time all season. His game versus the hapless Vikings wasn’t all that impressive (23-of-39 for 200 yards), but he was efficient, mistake-free and upright for the most part (just two sacks). How clean Manning stays and how effective he is will go a long way in allowing their franchise quarterback to engage in what will likely be a shootout, as these Giants-Eagles matchups usually are.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter@TBone8.