By Paul Dottino
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No more talking.
The Giants (0-4) need a win more than a bowl of pasta needs tomato sauce. Actually, the Philadelphia Eagles (1-3) feel the same way — as well they should, since the NFC East looks like it will be up for grabs this season.
Coach Tom Coughlin has a battered group heading into Sunday’s game at MetLife Stadium, although he’s not going to offer any excuses. He knows what is at stake and so do his players.
Here are three key matchups to watch:
1) Giants DTs Shaun Rogers and Mike Patterson vs. Eagles RB LeSean McCoy: McCoy leads the NFL with 468 rushing yards and 608 yards from scrimmage. Did we also tell you that he’s averaging six yards per carry and 20 yards on seven receptions?\
His vision, cutback ability and quickness are sources of concern for a defense that likely will be missing its most talented DTs in Linval Joseph (ankle/knee) and Cullen Jenkins (knee/Achilles). It is imperative that the Giants clog McCoy’s rushing lanes so that he cannot click his motor into second gear in open space. Rogers has been battling a sore back, so it’s unclear if the injury will affect him.
At least Patterson, who came from the Eagles in the offseason, has a firm grasp on McCoy’s moves.
2) Giants CB Prince Amukamara or Corey Webster vs. Eagles WR DeSean Jackson: The Giants prefer to play their corners straight up, but Webster is fighting a sore groin. So the defense may be forced to shadow Jackson with Amukamara rather than allow the receiver to potentially create a beneficial matchup against backup Trumaine McBride, who played well in the second half against Kansas City.
Jackson leads the NFL in yardage after the catch, and his speed has burned the Giants in the past.
3) Giants WR Victor Cruz vs. Eagles slot CB Brandon Boykin: Despite the offense’s struggles, Cruz has three 100-yard games under his belt. He continues to find ways to get open and make big plays. The Eagles’ defense has been horrible — they are giving up an NFL-high 28 first downs per game (which translates into teams driving the ball against them).
There’s no reason to think that Boykin can cover Cruz, as long as Eli Manning has some time to get the ball out.
PREDICTION: Eagles 30, Giants 23
PREDICTION RECORD vs. SPREAD: 2-2
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