Player I’ll be watching:
McManus: Zach Ertz.
Michael Vick told us this week that he believes Ertz will turn into one of the best tight ends in the game. The sooner that happens the better for No. 7. Defenses are keying on DeSean Jackson, as they should. The Eagles need another option to emerge in the passing game to help loosen the clamps.
Ertz could be particularly useful in the red zone. The tight end trio of Ertz, Brent Celek and James Casey still does not have a single red zone catch. Consider that Jackson has also been shut out inside the 20, and it’s no wonder the offense is stalling.
At 6-5, 250, the rookie out of Stanford can be a nice, big target for Vick when the windows get tight. Sunday would be a good time for their first touchdown connection.
Kapadia: Fletcher Cox.
When Chip Kelly said earlier this week that Cedric Thornton has been the Eagles’ best defensive player, it was a nice compliment for the former undrafted free agent out of Southern Arkansas. But it also made me think about one of the guys Thornton lines up next to: Fletcher Cox.
Based on talent alone, he has the most potential on this defense. And I’m not sure there’s a close second. But through four games, Cox hasn’t been the disruptive lineman we saw at the end of last year. Part of that is the two-gap scheme. But the Eagles are often in nickel, and even in those situations, Cox hasn’t distinguished himself.
I’m not saying he’s been invisible – he leads the team with two sacks and five hurries – but he hasn’t passed the eye test of someone who really is impacting the game. This is the week to break out. He’ll often be matched up against veteran David Diehl, who hasn’t played a snap all season and hasn’t played right guard since 2003, and backup center Jim Cordle. The Eagles need Cox to dominate that matchup and put pressure on Eli Manning.
Prop Bet of the Week: Giants turnovers — 2. Whaddya got?
McManus: I’ll try the over.
The Giants have a -9 turnover differential through four games, which is far and away the worst in the NFC. Eli Manning already has nine interceptions on the young season, and as a team New York has coughed up the ball 16 times.
The Eagles came up with five turnovers in the first two games but none since. There are not many playmakers on this defense (at least from what we’ve seen so far) but the Giants have been generous. The guess here is that the Eagles will take advantage 0f New York’s leaky offensive line and force Manning into some mistakes.
I’m thinking your boy Fletcher Cox is due for a big game, Sheil.
Kapadia: You’re really trying to make me a Debbie Downer here, aren’t you McManus? Is B-Dawk suiting up? Did Asante sign a special one-game contract?
I understand the Giants have been flat-out giving the ball away, and that certainly could happen Sunday afternoon, but I just don’t know who’s going to force a turnover on this defense. Last week, Manning’s first fumble came on a Tamba Hali strip-sack where the Chiefs had great coverage. And, well, Tamba ain’t walking through that door.
The defensive backs will have opportunities. Manning is in full “chuck it up and hope they make a play” mode with this offensive line unable to provide adequate protection. I just don’t have enough confidence in the Eagles’ secondary right now to capitalize.
McManus: 28-24, Eagles.
I expect a spirited game. It’s Eagles-Giants for one, and it’s also a game that both teams really need. I’m betting that the Eagles’ offensive line starts showing improvement this week, giving Vick enough time to operate. I can definitely envision Victor Cruz having a big game for the Giants, but think the defense holds its own overall.
It’s close, but I believe the Eagles are the better team right now.
Kapadia: 31-30, Giants.
When did I take on the Razor Ramon bad guy persona?
To be honest, our audience should be happy because I’m wrong with my prediction pretty much every week. Offensively, I see no reason why the Eagles should have trouble moving the football. Expect Jackson to hit on at least a couple big plays and LeSean McCoy to make life miserable for the Giants’ D.
The issue for me is the other side of the ball. For the Eagles to have success, I think they need to get multiple unforced errors from the Giants. That very well could happen. But the Cruz matchup is a bad one, and if Manning shows any patience at all, he should be able to find Hakeem Nicks on intermediate routes all game long. The Eagles’ main goal is to not get beat deep. The underneath throws are there every week.
Because the Giants can’t run the ball, maybe Davis can find a way to scheme up some pressure. But we just haven’t seen it in the past few weeks. I can see the Eagles taking a 30-28 lead with 1:47 left only to see it evaporate. It’s a toss-up, but I’m going with the Giants.
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