By Paul Dottino
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No matter how much the Giants try to downplay the trend, it is unmistakable and cannot be ignored.
They have lost six consecutive games to the Philadelphia Eagles – and done so in almost every way imaginable, including DeSean Jackson’s 65-yard punt return for a TD that capped an improbable 38-31 come-from-behind victory last season at the Meadowlands. The defeat put a significant dent in the Giants’ playoff hopes and they never recovered.
Defensive end Justin Tuck explained it does no good to think about the streak, reasoning the Giants cannot do anything to change those six results. At the same time, the Giants blew a 21-point lead in the final 8:17 of last year’s game at home and created a game film that every coach at every level can use to illustrate what happens to a team when it does not finish properly.
Giants need to remember that loss if for no other reason than to apply 60 minutes of pressure on quarterback Michael Vick and Co.
Vick suffered a concussion last weekend against Atlanta, but returned to practice Thursday. Obviously, the Giants would like to hit him hard early and often to see if they can rattle him or send him to the sideline. But for the purposes of this exercise, we’ll assume he’s able to play the entire game.
So here are your three matchups to watch:
1. Eagles WRs DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin vs. Giants CBs Corey Webster and Aaron Ross.
There may be no more dangerous receiving duo in the league. These two have great speed, run solid routes and are quick enough off the line to beat press coverage. Make a mistake in either communication or technique – which have been issues for the Giants’ over the first two weeks – and these receivers will make you pay dearly for it.
Ross said he’s over being benched in the second-half because of his struggles against St. Louis. His mind needs to be right because he must play with confidence against Maclin.
2. Giants RBs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw vs. Eagles revamped linebacking corps.
The Eagles have allowed nearly 300 combined rushing yards over the first two weeks, prompting them to flip around their linebackers this week. Given that the Giants need to control the clock, it is imperative they take advantage of whatever confusion might occur.
Jamar Chaney slides inside to the middle (where he was at the end of last season), flanked by Moise Fokou and rookie Casey Matthews. Chaney played well against the Giants last year but Foku is undersized and Matthews not very adept at changing direction. Bradshaw or Jacobs, who have been running behind a work-in-progress offensive line, must combine for at least 150 yards for the Giants to have a chance.
3. Giants LT Will Beatty vs. Eagles RDE Trent Cole.
Cole is an explosive speed rusher who also has a knack for causing turnovers – either with a strip or by rushing the quarterback into making a poor throw. In 12 career games against the Giants, Cole has 39 tackles, seven sacks, a forced fumble and an interception return for a TD.
Beatty’s quick feet usually allow him to do better against speed rushers, so this could turn into a very active battle. The Giants cannot afford to move backwards nor can they afford a negative turnover ratio.
PREDICTION: Eagles 34, Giants 24
PREDICTION RECORD VS. THE SPREAD: 1-1
What’s your prediction for Giants-Eagles? Let Dottino know in the comments below…