Friday, April 18, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Eagles-Giants scouting report

Eagles Jeremy Maclin and Giants Hakeem Nicks lead their teams in touchdown receptions. (Staff and AP Photo)
Eagles Jeremy Maclin and Giants Hakeem Nicks lead their teams in touchdown receptions. (Staff and AP Photo)
Recent history: The Eagles defeated the Giants twice last season, 40-17 at the Linc and 45-38 at Giants Stadium. The Giants lead the series, 81-71-2.

OFFENSE

Eagles: 400.2 yards per game (3rd)

Giants: 409.8 yards per game (2nd)

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  • Quarterback

    Eagles: Michael Vick has regained his amazing running skills, but no longer will take off at the first hint of trouble. He has shown patience in the pocket and keeps his eyes downfield even when he's scrambling. He's got an NFL-best 115.1 passer rating, a career-best 62.7 completion percent, and no interceptions.

    Giants: Eli Manning has a 66.1 completion percentage and is tied for the league lead in touchdown passes with 19, but also has thrown 13 interceptions, including five in the last three games. In his last eight starts against the Eagles, Manning has just a 56.0 completion percent and a 6.5 yards-per-attempt average.

    Pick: Eagles

    Running back

    Eagles: LeSean McCoy has been more valuable as a receiver and blocker lately than a ballcarrier. He has been very effective on screens. He's got just one run of more than 9 yards in his last 75 carries. Addition of Jerome Harrison (109 rushing yards vs. Redskins) provides another dose of speed.

    Giants: Ahmad Bradshaw is third in the league in rushing with 838 yards. He's an explosive, low-to-the-ground runner who has the ability to make the first tackler miss. With the receiving corps thin because of injuries, Eli Manning also is utilizing Bradshaw more as a receiver. He had six catches last week vs. Cowboys.

    Pick: Giants

    Receiver

    Eagles: DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin already have combined for 12 TD catches. In just 19 quarters with Michael Vick, Jackson has 533 receiving yards and is averaging 23.2 yards per catch. The Eagles are using a lot of max-protection, which has reduced tight end Brent Celek's role as a receiver.

    Giants: Injuries have depleted the Giants' receiving corps. With Steve Smith still sidelined, they'll suit up just two wideouts who have caught a pass this season - Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham. But Nicks is having a breakout season. Targeted 92 times, he's got 56 receptions and a league-high nine TDs.

    Pick: Eagles

    Offensive line

    Eagles: After giving up 19 sacks in the first five games, the Eagles have allowed just six in the last four. The fact that they are using a lot of max-protection has been a big reason. But this unit also is starting to play better together. But they'll have their hands full against one of the NFL's best pass rushes.

    Giants: Long one of the Giants' strengths, injuries are taking a toll on this unit. Two starters – LT Dave Diehl and C Shaun O'Hara – both are out. Ex-Eagle Shawn Andrews, who was signed on the final day of training camp, started at Diehl's spot the last two games, but has reinjured his back and is questionable.

    Pick: Giants

    DEFENSE

    Eagles: 325.0 yards per game (11th)

    Giants: 270.2 yards per game (1st)

    Defensive line

    Eagles: Pro Bowl RE Trent Cole has a team-high seven sacks and 21 hurries. No one else has more than 11 hurries. Darryl Tapp and Trevor Laws have been effective as the nickel DT tandem, combining for five sacks and eight hurries. Rookie DE Brandon Graham has just one sack in the last six games.

    Giants: This is the strength of the defense. Like the Eagles, they regularly rotate eight players up front, and all of them can rush the passer. DEs Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck have combined for 13 sacks and 36 hurries. Umenyiora has forced a league-high six fumbles. Giants KO'd five quarterbacks in their first seven.

    Pick: Giants

    Linebacker

    Eagles: MLB Stewart Bradley is second on the team in tackles, but still isn't back to where he was before his ACL injury. WLB Ernie Sims has been an effective blitzer. He's got two sacks and four hurries. Insertion of SLB Moise Fokou into the starting lineup has coincided with improvement vs. run the last five games.

    Giants: MLB Jon Goff and OLBs Keith Bulluck and Michael Boley play the run pretty well, though the 236-pound Goff isn't a particularly physical player and has trouble shedding blocks. This group doesn't have a lot of speed, though, which could be a problem against Mike Vick and the Eagles' swift receivers.

    Pick: Eagles

    Secondary

    Eagles: CB Dimitri Patterson has taken the starting opportunity he got when Ellis Hobbs got hurt and run with it. He held his own against the Colts' Reggie Wayne 2 weeks ago, had two interceptions (one TD) vs. Redskins, and he'll probably be spending much of Sunday lining up against the Giants' No. 1 wideout, Hakeem Nicks.

    Giants: The Giants gave up 327 passing yards and two TDs last week vs. Cowboys, and have given up nine TD passes in the last four games. Michael Vick's ability to extend plays is going to put a lot of pressure on a secondary that was torched for 256 receiving yards and two TDs by DeSean Jackson last year.

    Pick: Eagles

    Special teams

    Eagles: Eagles are 28th in punt coverage, but Sav Rocca is 11th in net average and opponents have returned just one of his last nine attempts. In the last six games, opponents have started beyond their own 35 just twice in 24 punts. David Akers has converted nine straight FGAs and has 13 touchbacks in his last 28 kickoffs.

    Giants: Giants' return game is among the worst in the league (29th in punt returns, 31st in kickoff returns). P Matt Dodge is seventh in gross average (45.9), but 28th in net average (35.1). He's also got five touchbacks. PK Lawrence Tynes has made his last eight FG attempts, including a 53-yarder.

    Pick: Eagles

    KEY MATCHUPS

    1. Eagles RCB Dimitri Patterson vs. Giants WR Hakeem Nicks: Patterson will be making just his third career start, but has played well. Nicks is tied for the league lead in touchdown catches with nine. Advantage: Giants

    2. Eagles LT Jason Peters vs. Giants RDE Osi Umenyiora: Umenyiora is second in the league in sacks with nine. Peters is coming off a pair of solid post-surgery performances. Advantage: Even

    3. Eagles WR DeSean Jackson vs. Giants RCB Terrell Thomas: The Eagles move Jackson around, but he lines up mainly on the left side and will be matched up much of the game against Thomas. Jackson is averaging 21.5 yards per catch and has seven receptions of 40-plus yards. Advantage: Eagles

    HOT AND NOT

    HOT

    Eagles: QB Michael Vick. Threw for four touchdowns and ran for two vs. Redskins. Is the league's top passer with a 115.1 rating.

    Giants: WR Hakeem Nicks. Has 20 catches for 318 yards and three TDs in last three games. Tied for league lead in TD receptions (nine).

    NOT

    Eagles: DE Brandon Graham. No tackles in Redskins game. One sack in the last six games.

    Giants: RB Ahmad Bradshaw. Has averaged just 3.3 yards per carry in the last two games and already has fumbled five times.

    DOMOWITCH'S PREDICTION

    Eagles 31, Giants 20

    by Paul Domowitch
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