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Giants at Eagles 2014: Five things to watch Sunday

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Here are five things that could determine the outcome of Sunday's game between the Giants and Eagles.

Al Bello

In case you somehow missed the memo, the New York Giants face the Philadelphia Eagles in a key NFC East game Sunday night in Philadelphia. Here are five things to watch.

Special Teams 

The Eagles have four special teams touchdowns. The Giants have been sort of touch-and-go on special teams all season, and haven't generated much of anything in the return game. To win, the Giants will need to prevent Philadelphia from making game-changing plays on special teams. As a bonus, getting a big play or two in the return game themselves would also be nice.

LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles

Don't let McCoy's 2.9 yards per carry average so far this season fool you. He is still a great player. Sproles, too. The multi-talented running backs are Philadelphia's biggest play-makers and the Giants will need to play disciplined defense to contain them.

"LeSean McCoy is still the number one guy in that offense. He can definitely hurt you. I feel like he is the hardest running back in football to tackle right now," said antrel Rolle of the Giants. "He might not have the yards he is used to having or the break-out runs he is used to having, but LeSean is still LeSean."

Trench Warfare

The Giants offensive line has played well the past few weeks, with the unexpected combination of Will Beatty, Weston Richburg, J.D. Walton, John Jerry and Justin Pugh settling in after a rocky start. The Eagles have made it known that they want to make Giants quarterback Eli Manning uncomfortable Sunday, something he has not been recently. The Giants will have to continue to protect Manning.

Defensively, the Giants appear to have an advantage over a beat-up Eagles offensive line missing starters Evan Mathis and Jason Kelce. Like they did in the second half against the Falcons last week the Giants need to take advantage of that wounded line to close down running lanes and make life miserable for Eagles quarterback Nick Foles.

Manning vs. Foles

Both quarterbacks have thrown five interceptions in the first five games, but Manning has been trending up while Foles has been trending down. Foles is hitting only 59.1 percent of his passes, has a passer rating of 82.5 and has not been as efficient as he was last season. Manning has been spectacular the past three weeks with passer ratings above 100 in each Giants victory. He has completed 66.3 percent of his passes and has a passer rating of 95.6, both of which would be career-bests over a full season.

Both quarterbacks lead fast-faced offenses capable of putting up a lot of points. The team that gets the better quarterback play Sunday night could well emerge with the victory.

Giants Against Themselves

We have been hitting on this theme all season, and we have pretty much done so again in talking about special teams issues and keying on the play of the quarterbacks.

Fact is, in the games they Giants have lost this season they have been their own worst enemy with turnovers, penalties and missed assignments. That was also true while falling behind to Atlanta last week. When the Giants have been mistake-free they have been pretty darn good.

Philadelphia has seven -- count 'em, seven -- touchdowns from their defense and special teams this season. On paper the Giants have enough offense to stay with the Eagles, and they appear to have a better defense. If they don't gift-wrap points for Philadelphia this is a winnable game for New York.