The Eagles biggest acquisition in free agency last off season has brought intensity and another veteran presence to the defense, but the former Pro Bowler Spikes has not come up with many game changing plays the way a lot of people expected him to this season. Spikes currently leads the team in tackles with 76, but he recorded his first sack of the year just last week and has not forced a fumbled or picked off a pass yet. The former Auburn Tiger had a chance to get an interception last week against Seattle when Matt Hasselbeck threw a pass that practically hit him between the numbers, but Spikes could only hold on to the ball for a few seconds before dropping it and the Seahawks went on to score on that drive. The Giants boast the second best rushing attack in the NFC, averaging 127.5 yards per game, and Philadelphia will need Spikes to slow down running back Rueben Droughns, who has scored six touchdowns on the ground. Spikes recorded six tackles in the Eagles last match-up against the Giants; a game that they lost 16-3 during Week 4.
Smith missed the first game against New York this season recovering from a sports hernia, and his blocking and pass catching abilities were sorely missed. The Eagles allowed 12 sacks, only had 76 net passing yards, and converted on third down only five times out of sixteen in that game, and Andy Reid's team showed no type of offensive rhythm whatsoever. Although he has not had over 50 receiving yards in any of the games he has played in this season, Smith knows the Eagles offense well and is a reliable target over the middle. The Giants only allow 210.3 yards per game passing, the third lowest total in the NFC, but they have allowed 19 touchdowns through the air and five of those have been to tight ends. Smith will need to get involved in the passing game to help the Eagles move the ball, but it will also be important for him to stay in and help block New York's talented defensive ends, Osi Umenyiora and Michael Strahan.
McNabb will make his first start since leaving the Miami game with injuries, and the Eagles will look to their franchise quarterback to bring consistency back to the offense as he has shown steady progress and growing confidence in his knee. In McNabb’s absence, back-up A.J. Feely threw more interceptions (seven to be exact) in two games than McNabb has all season, and the Eagles missed out on many chances to capitalize on drives because of this. The game against the Giants earlier this year was a nightmare for McNabb, as he was sacked 12 times and could not get any time in the pocket. Not having William Thomas, Brian Westbrook, and L.J. Smith was a big reason why the Eagles offense struggled so much, and all three of them are expected to play on Sunday. The most important thing for McNabb to do against New York will be to get rid of the ball quickly and use his legs to buy time and evade the Giants pass rush to keep drives going.