McManus: Nate Allen.
Billy Davis was armed with a few interesting stats when he met with reporters this week. One was that the Eagles’ defense is being thrown on an average of 45 times per game (44.28, actually). That number is so high in part because the Eagles give up a lot underneath in the name of preventing the deep ball.
The Giants were undeterred by this style of defense the last time these two teams played. By Davis’ count, Eli Manning threw deep 11 or 12 times against the Eagles in the first matchup. Manning attempted 52 passes overall in that game.
Safe to say the secondary will be busy again. Allen has been playing better of late, but faces a pretty stiff test on Sunday.
Kapadia: LeSean McCoy.
It’s been an interesting few weeks for the Eagles’ star running back. In the last meeting against the Giants, he was limited to 46 yards on 20 carries. Against Tampa, he played well, but had a little back-and-forth with Chip Kelly that reportedly resulted in the head coach apologizing to McCoy in front of the whole team. And last week against the Cowboys, McCoy said he played his worst game since his rookie season.
With a potentially hobbled Michael Vick, the Eagles will need to lean on the ground game. The feeling around NovaCare this week was that Kelly, McCoy and the rest of the offense have spent a lot of time focusing on coming up with ways to hit on explosive plays in the run game. Look for No. 25 to rebound – both as a runner and a pass-catcher.
Prop bet of the week: Over/under Vick rushing yards — 35. Whaddya got?
McManus: I’ll go under.
Vick’s hamstring pull is a 3-4 week injury and we’re three weeks in. According to Vick, he was only running at three-quarters speed during practice. He and Chip Kelly have routinely talked about being cautious to avoid further injury.
Vick is going to play Sunday barring a setback. He says he won’t hold anything back when the game starts. There’s no reason to doubt him there. I’m guessing Kelly, though, won’t be dialing up a ton of quarterback-designed running plays and has probably encouraged Vick to hand the ball off when they go to the read option. But there will undoubtedly be a time or two when Vick takes off because he just can’t help himself.
Kapadia: I’ll take the over. It’s no fun when we go the same way on these.
I agree with you that it would be unwise to keep the designed runs in the gameplan this week. But the Giants are likely going to play man-free coverage all game long. That means corners with their backs turned to Vick and the QB likely taking off on a few occasions if he can’t find anyone open.
Vick doesn’t know how to play cautious or conservative. Even if the hamstring is bothering him a bit, he should be able to get away from a Giants’ defense that has more size than speed.
McManus: Eagles 24, Giants 21
I’m a little concerned about that Vick hamstring. If he doesn’t make it through, the duties fall to rookie Matt Barkley, who threw three interceptions in as many possessions last week. For the purposes of this prediction, however, we’ll assume Vick lasts for the entire game and breathes some life back into the offense.
Davis’ defense is improving. I think his unit will get beat a few times but will do enough to secure the Eagles’ first home win in 10 tries.
Kapadia: Eagles 30, Giants 23
Despite last week’s three-point output, I’m still a believer in the Eagles’ offense. Unless the hamstring really bothers Vick and he puts up a serious clunker, I expect the Birds to move the ball successfully.
I’m seated firmly on the fence with this defense. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying they’re a top-10 unit by any means. But last week didn’t look like a fluke to me. It seemed more that guys were getting comfortable, and that includes the defensive coordinator. If progress is really being made, the Eagles should be able to create turnovers and limit the Giants, who are completely one-dimensional.
I’ve got the Eagles winning and covering the 6.5-point spread.
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