Following a wild few days of football the Giants are in a strong position.
On Thursday night they dismantled a good Panthers team in a game that no-one expected them to win. It was effectively over after the second drive. The rest of the game Eli and his cast of back-ups shone (Dre Brown and Ramses Barden in particular but also in the secondary.) Cam Newton embarrassed himself (a ‘Superman’ celebration after a 1 yard score when his team were trailing by 23 points) and sulked for the rest of the game.
Backup running back Andre Brown dominated the Panthers ‘D’ behind excellent line play.
Following a Redskins loss which drops them to 1-2, an Eagles loss which drops them to 2-1 and a Cowboys win which moved them to 2-1 the Giants are in the mix of the NFC East and currently looking like the strongest team in the division. Only a tie-breaker with Dallas separating them from the division lead.
All three of the Giants NFC East rivals looked sloppy in their games on Sunday. Dallas’ O-line was shocking and Jason Witten has been a non-factor – they were lucky to win. The Redskins sputtered after a strong first two weeks and again their O-line looked shoddy and their Defense porous.
The Eagles struggled to eke out wins in Weeks 1 & 2 (winning each week by 1 point), yesterday they fumbled the game away and let Vick get pounded into the ground (13 hits including 5 sacks) he doesn’t have the build or stamina to take up that pace of a beating and can’t be looking forward to facing the giants D-linemen next week. The Eagles run and pass game looked bad, not as bad as their non-existent pass-rush and run-defence though.
Following the Giants’ win on Thursday they have 10 days to get healthy and prepare for the Eagles and Eli is always excellent on the road in Philly.
Here are my keys to the game:
The Cardinals pass rush left Vick battered and bruised on Sunday.
Giants D-Line against Michael Vick
The Giants need to get pressure up the middle on Vick but maintain their rush lanes and discipline. The Cardinals showed the blueprint for this and you better believe Perry Fewell was watching. Pressure in his face and hard disciplined pursuit by DEs and Linebackers. They can’t give him an escape route to squirt out the pocket like Romo did in week 1. They were great against Cam on Thursday, they need more of the same.
The ends can’t get forced too far up the field or the draw and screen games and quick dump off passes to the running back will hurt them.
Giants LBs against ‘Shady’ McCoy
The Giants linebackers need to be stout in run defence and wrap up on their tackles. McCoy is probably the best cutback runner in the league and makes plays when the play breaks down, often reversing field completely. The linebackers need to know where he is and bring him down. They also need to fill the holes and be alert for screens and swing passes. McCoy in the open field is a nightmare.
Can Boley get his fourth interception in as many games?
Giants Secondary against the Eagles pass game
Jackson and Maclin both have the speed to blow the top off the Giants battered secondary while Avant and Celek can get open behind the linebackers against a zone defence. The Giants need to hold up in coverage long enough to pressure Vick with the front 4. Give him time and there will be plenty of big plays down the field for him to take.
Eli Manning against the Eagles pass rush
The Eagles love rushing from a ‘wide 9’ formation. Eli has to recognise this and exploit it with the run and screen passes when possible and when the Eagles blitz he needs to exploit the one on one match ups with Cruz and Nicks on the outside.
In the redzone look for Bennett and his new best-friend Barden to be the in targets Eli looks to for the TD.
My prediction: 17-10 Giants if they stay healthy and disciplined and the pass rush gets home against Vick.
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