Editor’s note: Staff writer Steve Fini sizes up the Eagles offense versus the Giants defense.
Giants defensive line vs. Eagles offensive line
The key here will be the Eagles offensive line. The Giants don’t have the dominating defense they once did. Injuries have played a huge role. Their defensive line, however, is still a force. Jason Pierre-Paul, their outstanding young defensive end, is an athletic freak. If you remember, the Eagles drafted Brandon Graham instead of him two years ago. He could end up making the Eagles pay for that decision.
While Jason Peters did an excellent job against the Falcons’ Ray Edwards and John Abraham, Pierre-Paul is a different animal. He’s big and extremely fast off the edge. On the other side, Justin Tuck will matchup with Todd Herremans. This will be a great matchup of two players that utilize their brute strength.
The Giants also like to line up their defensive ends on the inside which could cause a huge problem for the Eagles’ weak interior offensive line. Even so, Giants defensive tackle (and former Dallas Cowboy) Chris Canty, along with Linvell Joseph, make a solid duo. This is the one area of the Giants’ defense that could give the Eagles fits.
Eagles run game vs. Giants run defense
The Eagles backfield, if given time and running lanes, should dominate. None of the Giants linebackers are experienced. They’re athletic, but small, just like the Eagles linebackers. Michael Boley is the “best” of their group. He’s basically the Giants version of Jamar Chaney. While physically gifted, he hasn’t shown the promise New York had hoped for when they drafted him. Greg Jones, their middle linebacker, is comparable to Eagles linebacker Casey Mathews. Both are small, quick athletes. Greg Jones, however, does a better job in run support than he does against the pass. The big difference is Mathias Kiwanuka. When the Giants drafted him in the first round six years ago they wanted him to be a defensive end, but now he’s their starting outside linebacker.
Often injured, Kiwanuka has been a solid player when he’s on the field. He showed a lot of talent as a rookie and produces whenever he is in the game. He can cause problems when he blitzes. Shady McCoy needs to be much better in blitz pickup this week. There are many comparisons between McCoy and former Eagle Brian Westbrook, but if he wants to be on the same level as Westbrook he needs to improve in this area.
Giants secondary vs. Eagles passing game
Giants safety Antrel Rolle was quoted as saying he can cover Eagles wide receiver Desean Jackson one on one. I haven’t seen the video evidence that proves him right, so his best chance to show everyone will be Sunday. He hasn’t lived up to any part of the hype that followed him from Arizona to New York. He blows a lot of assignments and that could be bad news with Philadelphia’s vertical passing attack.
The other safety is Kenny Phillips. He’s the type of safety who will go for the big hit, but can swing and miss in coverage. He also showed a lot of promise as a young player, but was injured and has struggled to regain his form. Both safeties are physically gifted, but commit too many mental lapses.
The Giants are completely decimated by injuries at cornerback. Terrell Thomas, their outstanding corner, is out for the year. Prince Amukamara, their 2011 first round draft pick, won’t return until October at the earliest. That leaves former first-rounder Aaron Ross alongside Corey Webster. Ross has been awful, just awful this season. Webster, meanwhile, is a veteran who knows the game and is solid but nothing special.
If the Eagles can buy Vick time, look for huge games out of both Jeremy Maclin and Desean Jackson. Also, with this being Steve Smith’s first game against his former team, I can see Andy Reid trying to get him involved early. Reid likes to play mental games against his opponents. Remember how he used Michael Vick against the Falcons in his first return back to Atlanta? Look for a short five to seven yard catch for Smith to get things going, and look for the same pass to him once the Eagles are in the redzone.
Advantage: This isn’t even a debate–Eagles