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Giants at Eagles 2014: When The Eagles Have The Ball

What will the Giants have to contend with Sunday night when the Eagles are on offense? Let's take a look.

Nick Foles
Nick Foles
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

A year ago, quarterback Nick Foles seemingly came out of nowhere to have an incredible season. Thought by many not to be a fit for Chip Kelly's spread, read-option offense, Foles went 8-2 as a starter, threw 27 touchdown passes, was intercepted only twice and played to a passer rating of 119.2. The Eagles won the NFC East and Foles, in just his second season, went to the Pro Bowl.

This season has been a different story for the Eagles' quarterback. Foles is completing only 59.1 percent of his passes, has already thrown five interceptions and has a passer rating of 82.5.

So, what's the deal?

Here is Bleeding Green Nation editor Brandon Lee Gowton answering that question:

The deal is exactly what you have read. Nick Foles has not been as good this year as he was last year. To his credit, he has not had the most ideal situation. Philadelphia's offensive line has been banged up and missing several starters. The Eagles haven't been able to establish an effective running game in order to take pressure off of a struggling Foles.

The third-year quarterback hasn't responded strongly to this adversity. The bottom line is that Foles has played five games and he's only turned in one legitimately good performance: Week 3 against Washington. Otherwise he's been really up and down and just flat out ugly at moments. As it stands, Foles does not look like a guy the Eagles are rushing to sign to a massive contract extension.

Eagles' coach Chip Kelly said Wednesday that "a lot of things" have been behind the interceptions thrown by Foles this season.

"I look at each one individually. There is not a glaring error on all of them, on the five that he has thrown. It hasn't been a consistent pattern," Kelly said. "It has been a different thing here and there in terms of evaluating what is going on with the interceptions."

The Eagles are still tied with the Indianapolis Colts for the league lead in points per game at 31.2. Seven of their scores, however, have come from either the special teams (two blocked punts for touchdowns, a punt return and a kickoff return) or defense (an interception return and two fumble returns).

"I see the talent, I see the scheme, I see (LeSean) McCoy, the outstanding personnel. They've had some injuries in the offensive line, let's face it, they have, but I still see the production," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said on Wednesday.

The Match-ups

Foles may be struggling and the Eagles' offensive line may have some holes, but the Giants still understand that the Eagles are a dangerous offensive team with a plethora of weapons.

"They are obviously a potent offense. They are able to hit the big play; that is what we've got to stop," said Giants' defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka. "They can stretch the field on the outside, but for us, it is mainly about gap assignment and alignment, making sure that everybody understands your job and the defense because that is key."

Handling Philadelphia running backs LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles is the first priority for the Giants' defense.

McCoy is averaging only 2.9 yards per carry through five games, but he gained 1,607 yards a year, has been All-Pro twice and the Giants know he could break out at any time.

"LeSean McCoy is still the number one guy in that offense. He can definitely hurt you," said Giants safety Antrel Rolle. "I feel like he is the hardest running back in football to tackle right now. 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."

The Giants are 10th in the league against the run, giving up 99.0 yards per game thus far.

Sproles brings a different dimension to the Philly offense. He has only 25 carries in five games, but has caught 16 passes. The linebacker the Giants would like to have covering Sproles is the athletic Jacquian Williams. Be sure, though, that Chip Kelly and the Eagles will try to create situations where Jameel McClain, Jon Beason (if he plays) and Mark Herzlich would be forced to cover him. Those match-ups would likely not work out well for the Giants.

The Eagles also love the screen game, so the Giants need to be wary of simply rushing all-out to the quarterback.

The Eagles no longer have DeSean Jackson at wide receiver to threaten defenses deep, but Jeremy Maclin (25 catches), rookie Jordan Matthews (19 catches) and veteran Riley Cooper (19 catches) are a potent trio. Maclin, back after missing last season with a knee injury, is averaging 17.2 yards per catch and has seven catches of 20 yards or more. Tight end Zach Ertz has 16 catches, six of them for more than 20 yards.

Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was in and out of last Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons with ankle and hamstring issues. Rodgers-Cromartie is a premier corner, but you can likely expect the Eagles to test him deep and see if his leg holds up.

The Giants would appear to have an advantage over the Eagles in the trenches. The Giants boast a deep, talented defensive line led by Jason Pierre-Paul and Johnathan Hankins.

The Eagles are fielding a makeshift offensive line with All-Pro left guard Evan Mathis and starting center Jason Kelce down with injuries. Giants fans know all too well how line woes can cripple an offense.

Winning at the line of scrimmage would, of course, help the Giants control the Eagles' weapons on the outside. We will see if they can do that on Sunday night.