Eagles/Giants Ready For Third Showdown

For a third time this season the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants will square off. This meeting will have much bigger implications. The winner will move on to the NFC Championship Game with the opportunity to play in the Super Bowl, the loser goes home and has to wait for another chancenext season.

These two NFC East rivals split their season series 1-1. The first game played in Philadelphia on November 9, was won by the Giants by a score of 36-31. Running Back Brandon Jacobs for New York ran for 126 yards and two touchdowns while the Giant offense racked up a whopping 401 yards of total offense in the game. A little less than a month later on December 7, the Eagles went into New York and gave the Giants their one and only home loss of the season defeating New York by a score of 20-14. Jacobs opposing running back, Brian Westbrook of the Eagles, rushed for 131 yards and had six receptions for 72 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter for the winning score.

Now let us compare how these two teams stack up against each other statistically. Let’s start with the visiting Eagles. Both offensively and defensively the Eagles are toward the top of the league. They rank in the top 10 in three out of four major offensive categories; 6th in points (26.0), 9th in total yards (350.5), and 6th passing yardage (244.4). They only rank outside the top 10 in rush yards (22nd at 106.1). As for the Eagle defense, it ranks no lower than 4th in all major categories; 4th in points (18.1), 3rd in total yards (274.3), 3rd in passing yards (182.1), and 4th in rushing yards (92.2). The Giants offense ranks very closely to that of the Eagles. They are 4th in points (26.7), 7th in total yards (355.9), 18th in passing yards (198.6), and 1st in rushing yards (157.4).

The Giant defense is also one of the top defenses in the NFL; 5th in points (18.4), 5th in total yards (292.0), 8th in passing yards (196.2), and 9th in rushing yards (95.8). The Giants passing game started out hot at the beginning of the season, but tapered off with the season ending suspension of Wide Receiver Plaxico Burress. For this game the Giants will likely also be without top Tight End Kevin Boss. Boss, one of Eli Manning’s favorite targets in the redzone, caught 33 passes for 384 yards and six touchdowns.

The key for both teams is simple, stop the other team’s offensive weapon. The Giants 3 headed dragon of Jacobs, Derrick Ward, and Ahmad Bradshaw combined this season for 2,469 yards and 18 touchdowns. The Eagles, on the other hand, have Donovan McNabb and Westbrook. Eagle’s coach Andy Reid can have McNabb throw the ball deep to one of his speedy receivers or dump the ball off to the team’s playmaker, Westbrook. Both Eagle’s defensive coordinator, Jim Johnson, and Giants defensive coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo, will have their hands full Sunday trying to stop the opposing offenses.

The Eagles are probably the hottest team in the NFL winning 4 out of their last 5 games of the regular season and continuing that success into the postseason winning their wild-card playoff game against Minnesota 26-14. Giants players have taken notice. “They may be the sixth seed, but they sure aren’t playing like it,” said defensive end Justin Tuck who led the Giants with 12 sacks this season. The New York Giants locked up the #1 seed and a first round bye last week, “You heard me say that I thought the bye was good for our team,” Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said. Giants players who were nicked up by injury were able to rest their injuries and get healthy for this week’s match-up.

The Eagles and Giants have met in the playoffs three times in their history. The Giants won the first two meetings in 1981 and 2001, but the Eagles won the most recent meeting in 2007 by a score of 23-20. Will the Eagles continue their magical comeback season, or will the Giants resume their quest for a second straight Super Bowl? We will all find out Sunday, January 11 at 1:00 PM EST. This could turn out to be the best game of the entire NFL season by far.

Woody’s Prediction: Eagles 27 – Giants 13


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