Eagles-Giants: Five Things to Look For

The Sunday night battle will go a long way in determining the alpha-team in the NFC East for the early part of the season.

Foles Simplifies Game?

Of Nick Foles' five interceptions, four have come in the deep passing game. Woefully underthrown ducks have ended erstwhile good possessions for an offense that, at its best, gashes defenses with quick gains and quality tight end play. Foles' preference for the deep ball is undone by a noticeable downshift in his mechanics.

Foles has thrown 42 passes beyond 20 yards, completing 11 of them. Admittedly, five have gone for touchdowns, but it's turned into a game of Russian Roulette. Although the Giants secondary has trouble with the deep ball, their front seven brings immense pressure, and the last thing you need is Foles throwing another bad pass without his feet set.

Eagles D Will Challenge Interior

With the Eagles pass rush picking things up (eight sacks in the last two games), Bill Davis' group finds itself headed into battle Sunday night with a revamped Giants offensive line. Will Beatty, as previously noted, has become the genuine article at left tackle, going a long way toward Eli Manning only being sacked seven times in five games.

If there's a weakness on the Giants line after five games, it goes through center J.D. Walton, a capable run-blocker that has allowed five hurries. Left guard Weston Richburg struggled with pass protection early on, but has blossomed alongside Beatty to form a solid battery on the left side. If the Eagles drop back as they had in the fourth quarter Sunday, without the extra pressure, they're just asking for trouble.

Manning Will Work Quick

Eli Manning displays a quicker release in this offense, so the pass-rush grades could be a bit misleading. This relies on second-level blocking, as well as the hopes that the defenders aren't playing tight enough to break up passes. If they watch the film of the Eagles-Redskins game, they'll see Bradley Fletcher get chewed up by allowing too much cushion. Philly's game is tight press with forces to the outside, and that, along with the fourth quarter Sunday, are the antithesis of it.

Manning has only completed five passes thrown beyond 20 yards, on a hefty 19 attempts, so he'll be more comfortable working underneath with a variety of crossing routes, screens, and simple curls. It's imperative, like in the Rams game, that the Eagles defense take the pass away early and force them to throw deep later (hopefully without the cushion).

Shady, Sproles vs. The Middle

LeSean McCoy's search for 100 rushing yards continues, although Sunday was his best effort of the season to date: 81 yards on 24 carries (3.38 YPA). It was a vast improvement over the struggles of previous weeks. Lane Johnson back at tackle, and Todd Herremans in his natural right guard position, rekindled a bit of McCoy's magic with some long runs thrown in. Darren Sproles made his own waves, particularly with his burst through the middle.

As much as the interior offensive line struggles, so too does the middle of the Giants D-line. Former Eagles Mike Patterson and Cullen Jenkins have had difficulty playing up to the level of Jonathan Hankins in stopping the run through the middle. Middle linebacker Jameel McClain has been a pushover against the run, making just three stops in 79 run snaps. The middle hasn't been this lush for the Eagles running game all season, but the interior line must do their part.

Williams in the Spotlight

Rashad Jennings is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game, following the diagnosis of an MCL sprain, sustained against the Falcons. The next man up is rookie Andre Williams, a 230-lb short yardage back with 170 yards and two touchdowns, but a poor 3.15 YPA average. Williams carried 20 times against the Falcons, mostly in relief, to the tune of 65 yards and a score.

Williams averages a respectable 1.61 yards-after-contact, and has broken five tackles. It's unknown how much time he'll share with Peyton Hillis, a one-season wonder pressed in at second string. Hillis has carried ten times this season for 38 yards, so he'll likely see heavy use in a two-back system, as he already gets action among a trio.

Statistics from Pro Football Focus were used to write this story.

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