Our New York Giants look to turn the tables tonight on the Philadelphia Eagles, who have beaten them three straight times. A victory would stamp the Giants as a legitimate NFC playoff threat. A loss, and the playoffs will be possible but unlikely.
Here is a tradtional 'Kudos & Wet Willies' style preview of the keys to the game.
There will be lots of 'Kudos' Monday if ...
The big plays belong to the Giants. The Eagles live for the big play offensively. There's no grind-it-out and worry about the time of possession attitude in Andy Reid's offense. It's create a mismatch and go for the big play as often as you can. The Giants have given up too many of those types of plays this season, and they can't afford that tonight. Offensively, opportunities will be there if the Giants can block the blitz-happy Eagles defense. Gotta hit a couple of 'em, running or passing.
The Giants win the turnover battle. This is always true, but against the Eagles of late the Giants seem to have committed more than their share of silly turnovers. Obviously, you can't gift-wrap opportunities for good teams, and the Eagles are a good team.
The defensive resurgence continues. The Giants defense played its best game in about two months Sunday against Dallas. They played with energy, throttled Dallas' running game and despite giving up tons of passing yardage didn't blow assignments on deep balls and did not miss tackles. They need that same effort tonight.
There will be lots of 'Wet Willies' Monday if ...
The Giants can't, or won't, run the football. The December weather could turn ugly in East Rutherford tonight. I guess we could call this the Kevin Gilbride factor. The offensive coordinator has often been criticized for poor play-calling in bad weather. He knows it could be a factor tonight. Giants fans everywhere will be watching to see how he, and quarterback Eli Manning, handle the conditions.
Donovan McNabb is comfortable. McNabb has mostly been comfortable in the pocket against the Giants the past several seasons. I don't care how they do it, but the Giants have got to frustrate him, hit him, make him move. If they give him the opportunity, the streaky McNabb will eventually start ripping off completions for huge chunks of yardage. So, the Giants must do the thing they have largely been unable to do in recent years. Get to McNabb.
The Giants get whipped on special teams. Coughlin fears DeSean Jackson as a punt returner. And David Akers always seems to factor into Giants-Eagles matchups. The Giants have been spotty on special teams all season, and they need to at least get a draw with Philly in that department.