Eagles v. Giants: Week 8 Pre-Game Notes

A win today and the Eagles are back at .500, and more importantly, might be back in a share of 1st place (the Cowboys play the Lions).  I’m a little surprised at most of the analyst take’s on the game.  For some reason, nobody seems willing to admit the fact that all available evidence suggests the Giants are a terrible football team.  What evidence is that? Glad you asked.

– As I explained in the handicapping post, Football Outsiders takes a very dim view of the Giants.  New York ranks 31st in total DVOA (-34.9%).  For reference, the Eagles rank 20th, at -4.6%.  So far this season, the Eagles have been the much better team.

– The Giants have just 6 sacks this season.  This should be a huge red flag for anyone picking the Giants to win, because it mitigates the one factor that could make this game a toss-up…Vick’s health.  Normally, if Vick can’t run, he’s lost most of his potency.  However, if there’s no pass rush, it won’t matter.  If the Eagles O-Line can do its job, the Giants will be forced to blitz, which SHOULD leave a lot of openings for the passing game.

– The Eagles defense can win this game by itself.  I have no concerns remaining from last week’s terrible offensive performance.  There were opportunities there, and Foles just missed them.  That’s an indirect way of saying that the Eagles will score often today.  Conversely, the Giants are on of the worst offenses in the league. The Eagles defense has struggled this season, but seems to be less of a disaster than it was early on.  It’s still bad, but it can’t ask for a much easier matchup than this.  The Giants are averaging just 67 rushing yards per game.  Given their record, perhaps we should expect the Giants to have been forced to give up on the run fairly often.  However, in that case we should see inflated pass stats.  Instead, the team is averaging 260 passing yards per game, which ties them with the Eagles (they’re slightly ahead if we go to decimals).  By itself, 260 passing yards per game isn’t bad (ranks 10th overall).  But for the reason I mentioned above (losing a lot), it’s misleading and bad.

– Blanket Victor Cruz.  The fast receivers should scare the Eagles much more than the big receivers.  Specifically, Nate Allen trying to run with Cruz is a nightmare.  Double-cover him every play.  Normally, you’d be scared that Hakeem Nicks would then run wild, but have you seen him play recently?  He’s either mailing it in or actually forgot how to catch a football.  Either way, I’d make him prove it before shading any real attention his way.  Rueben Randle is the actually bigger Non-Cruz concern here.  He has 9 catches this season of 20+ yards, and is quietly developing into an actual threat.  Look for him to be the “guy casual fans don’t know who blows up against the Eagles”.

– Vinny Curry time… Curry’s playing time takes a hit because he’s a liability against the run.  Improving or not, he’s not the guy you want out there against a good rushing attack. As I said earlier, though, the Giants do not present that situation.  Instead, they seem to be a perfect team against which to fully unleash Curry.  Manning is a statue, and he’s makes foolish throws if you pressure him.  Peyton Hillis will be the primary back, so let’s not get too worried about letting the Giants take advantage of Curry’s aggressiveness.  I’ll gladly trade a couple of 8-10 yard runs allowed in exchange for having Manning’s pocket collapse every time he drops to pass.  The key is that Hillis isn’t going to rip an 80 yard TD run, so the risk of playing Curry is less than normal.

That’s all.  Eagles, if they don’t do something stupid like take a bunch of penalties or fumble the kickoffs, should win this game, and frankly, it shouldn’t be that close.  If Vick isn’t 100%, than we might be in for a tight one, but unless he’s significantly hobbled, the only ones that can beat the Eagles today are themselves.

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