NFL Sunday Night Showdown: Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants

The New York Giants (6-3) seek to close the season books early on the previously over-hyped Philadelphia Eagles (3-6) tonight in a big NFC East match-up, while continuing to maintain at least a one-game advantage over the Dallas Cowboys heading into the last 5 weeks of regular season play.  Things look very promising for the Giants to bounce back after a tough Week 10 loss, as they will have a huge advantage heading into tonight’s game before play even gets started.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick has been ruled out of the game after suffering broken ribs in last week’s devastating home loss to the lowly Arizona Cardinals, which sent the Eagles to 4 games out of first place in the NFC East with just 5 more games to play after this weekend. However, with the way the Eagles have been playing this season, a shake-up at their top offensive position might not necessarily do more harm than good, especially considering the depth of talent throughout the Philadelphia roster on the offensive side of the ball. No doubt a huge question mark lies with back-up quarterback Vince Young, who will make his first start this season and in a Philadelphia jersey, in a tough road environment against a Giants’ team known for beating up on quarterbacks. With doubts about his poise, attitude and conviction to carry a team through a full game, Young will undoubtedly have a lot to prove tonight especially with Philadelphia’s entire season on the line in this match-up at the hostile MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Facing a Giants team leading the league in pass rushing with 30 sacks in 9 games, there’s even more pressure tonight on lead running back LeSean McCoy (165 carries, 906 yards, 10 TDs) to help carry the load, but that has something that has proven to be tougher to do without the presence of the speedy Michael Vick keeping opponents’ defenses honest. However, matching-up the league’s top rusher in McCoy against the Giants’ 29th ranked rushing attack that will be without lead rusher Ahmad Bradshaw once more (Brandon Jacobs will once again get the start) may give the Eagles at least one advantage in which to exploit this evening, provided a no-doubt rusty Vince Young can avoid making big mistakes under pressure, and stick with a mostly ground-game attack against the blitzing Giants’ defensive ends and linebackers. One thing is for certain, if Philadelphia is to stand any chance at pulling off a road upset tonight, they’ll simply have to do better in the closing minutes of the game, as they’ve dropped 5 games that they’ve led going into the fourth quarter of play this season. Coming in 4-0  against New York on the road in the last 4 meetings definitely gives a confidence boost to the shaken Eagles, but in this match-up it may be just as much about what the Eagles do on defense as what they do with the ball, against a Giants team that has rallied behind clutch play late in games.

Though Giants starting quarterback Eli Manning couldn’t pull his team past the San Francisco 49ers on the road last week, losing 27-20 in a gritty game, Manning has New York set up well for a run at the postseason by being more of a complete, 4 quarter player than he ever has been. Though the previously strong Giants run game has certainly seen a drastic dip in performance this season, the connection between Manning (2688 yards passing, 17 TDs, 8 INTs) and his leading receivers Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham and tight end Jake Ballard has more than made up for the offensive slack in the running game. The Giants have taken advantage of the vertical passing game, utilizing tall receivers with good hands against smaller cornerbacks and safeties, and have had lots of  success downfield. With Cruz, Nicks and Ballard all averaging over 15 yards/catch this season, Philadelphia’s solid pass defense, ranked 11th in the league allowing just 219.6 yards passing/game, will certainly be challenge all evening long. Though the Eagles haven’t been as stout against the run, allowing 120 yards/game to opponents’ running backs, with the lumbering Brandon Jacobs proving ineffective this season at 3.2 yards/carry there’s more room to focus on the Giants passing game, and pressuring Eli Manning into making more mistakes. While the Giants may lead the league with 30 sacks, Philadelphia is no slouch in the pass rush, sacking opponent QB’s 26 times, led by Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Babin’s 9 sacks. With fellow DE Trent Cole (5 sacks) and veteran defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins (5 sacks) providing pressure, no doubt Manning and the Giants will look to shorter passing routes than usual and more work to tight end Jake Ballard, in order to avoid getting shut down against a good Eagles’ defensive line.

Betting Lines for New York Giants vs. Philadelphia Eagles

The New York Giants come into this match-up at home with -250 odds on the money line, which basically accounts for the presence of first-time Eagles starter Vince Young filling in for the injured Michael Vick, and all the questions that will surround his play tonight. However, taking into account desperation for the Eagles in tonight’s game, the +210 money line odds on the Eagles could be a reasonable wager to chase this evening, especially considering the success that Philadelphia has had on the road against the Giants recently. Against the spread, New York gives up 6 points while the Eagles receive the same amount (both options are -110 odds), which may favor Philadelphia simply because this game represents somewhat of a last stand for the season. Lastly, for the over/under total points, find the game’s mark set at 45.5 points at Sportsbook today, and with the league’s top rushing attack against the 5th-ranked passing game of the Giants, we could very well see some elevated scoring, especially moving into the second half where the defenses may relax a bit after a tough, pounding game.

Our Pick to Win:

Even though Vince Young makes his first start tonight for the Eagles, this match-up is surprisingly well balanced, considering the Eagles’ better overall defense, strong rushing attack, and the necessity to salvage any hopes of a playoff run by winning tonight. Coming off a tough loss last week on the road, the Giants will most certainly be looking to get back into the win column on home turf, and will be smelling blood in the water with a downtrodden, underachieving division opponent in their sights. Though the recent success of Philadelphia against New York is telling (New York snapped a 6-game losing streak to Philly on Sept. 25th, but has lost 4 straight to the Eagles at East Rutherford), this is a very different Eagles team missing much of their swagger from the last few seasons. With that in mind, there’s little doubt that this game is going to go down to the wire, where clutch play will pay off in the closing minutes. With the Eagles struggling to find that clutch finish all year long, and the Giants’ season propped up by their ability to close out games, the Giants get our pick for victory in tonight’s Sunday Night Football showdown with a 30-27 win. Say so long to the much-hyped but equally disappointing season of the Philadelphia Eagles, as clutch play again gets the better of the better all-around team on the field.

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