By Paul Dottino
» More Columns
A winning lottery ticket.
The Giants (8-7) have gone from holding the NFC East in the palm of their hands to needing a four-way combination to make the playoffs as a wild-card team. They’ll be attempting to beat the Eagles at MetLife Stadium while hoping Detroit knocks off Chicago – with both games at 1 p.m. Should those two games fall into place, coach Tom Coughlin’s team needs Green Bay to stop Minnesota at 4:25 p.m. and then Washington to defeat Dallas at 8:20 p.m.
Will the Giants get help? Detroit and Chicago (which has lost five of seven) will lock up in a rivalry game. Green Bay needs a win to earn a bye in the postseason. And the Washington-Dallas winner grabs a home playoff game. So it’s not totally out of the question that the Giants will get the help they need.
But first, the Giants need to take care of their own business – and it’s hard to feel confident in them after they got blown out in their past two games. Coughlin admitted his players’ emotions took a big hit because of those defeats, although he’s imploring them to play with pride and passion against the Eagles – if for nothing else, to go out on a winning note with a 9-7 mark.
Coughlin also spoke this past week about soul searching, beginning with himself and extending to every player in the locker room – remember, the roster gets graded on the complete 16-game schedule when the front office begins its offseason evaluations.
Here are the three key matchups to watch:
1. Eagles QB Micheal Vick vs. Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. Vick usually uses improvisation when making his best plays against the Giants – whether it be buying time to throw on the run or scrambling for a long gain (usually on third down).
LB Jacquian Williams recently returned from a sprained knee and has been effective as a spy in the past, so Fewell may go that route. Or he could use S Kenny Phillips (who has been in-and-out of the lineup because of sporadic play relating to a knee injury) or perhaps rookie S Will Hill.
Vick is coming back from a concussion and ought to be motivated to show how he still has big games left in him, specifically because it appears coach Andy Reid (4-11) is on his way out.
2. Eagles RBs LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown vs. Giants’ front seven. We are going generic as we have so many times this season because so many of the Giants’ defenders have not played up to their potential.
Missed tackles. Poor positioning. Uninspired play. Which members of the front seven are going to put it all together and contain the Eagles’ running game?
McCoy (795 rushing yards, 4.2 avg.) has returned from a concussion and Brown (546, 5.1) has proven that he can be as shifty and dangerous during McCoy’s absence.
3. Giants WR Victor Cruz vs. Eagles CB Nnamdi Asomugha. These two players always will be considered an interesting matchup as long as they are in the league, because of the way Cruz beat the perennial Pro Bowl defender for two touchdowns during his career breakout game in Philadelphia during the 2011 season.
Asomugha is on the downside. Earlier this season, the Falcons targeted him five times and Julio Jones beat him all five times for 123 yards and a TD.
Prediction: Giants 20, Eagles 17
Prediction vs. the spread: 5-9-1
Where will the G-Men be once the dust settles Sunday? Sound off in the comments!