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NFL Preview - NY Giants (1-6) at Philadelphia (3-4)
By Shawn Clarke, Contributing NFL Editor
(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Giants finally got off the schneid their last time out and will try for a rare two-game winning streak when they visit the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday afternoon.
The Giants ended their six-game slide to start the season with Monday night's 23-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings and held an opponent to single digits for the first time this season. Not known for their defense this season, the Giants forced three turnovers, recorded eight passes defensed and one sack of Vikings new QB Josh Freeman.
"We had a lot of pressure on the quarterback," Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said. "It didn't show up in sacks but we had double-digit quarterback hits. He was under pressure all night, so that's something I think we can continue to build on. Our secondary played well, they a got turnover and just had tight coverage all night, and hopefully it's something we'll see more of around here."
It was all about defense for the Giants, who were led by Jon Beason's nine tackles and tasted victory for the first time at home (1-2). Now they'll try for their first road win (0-4) of the season at Lincoln Financial Field.
Winning on Sunday will be tough because the Giants' defense is still one of the worst in the league. They are 19th in yards allowed (364.9), 20th against the pass (254.9), 21st against the rush (110.0) and 31st in points allowed (30.9). They did improve drastically on Monday, but the Vikings are just as bad. New York was able to stop all-world running back Adrian Peterson, holding the star to 28 yards on 13 carries.
Minnesota only recorded 206 yards on offense.
Giants defensive ends Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul must pressure the quarterback this weekend in order to keep the Eagles honest. Pierre-Paul owns 3 1/2 sacks in his last six games against Philadelphia and 14 1/2 sacks in the past 17 games against division foes. He will have to keep that up against the NFC East-rival Eagles to give the Giants back-to-back wins for the first time since a four-game run last Oct. 7-28.
Tuck has 5 1/2 sacks in his last seven games against the Eagles.
Meanwhile, it appears Michael Vick will return to action this weekend after missing the last 2 1/2 games with a hamstring injury. Vick was back at practice this week and said the hamstring is getting better, but also revealed that there's still a knot in the muscle.
"This is not an issue or a situation you can play around with," Vick said. "I'm not up here playing games or blowing smoke. I'm just trying to figure out what's the best situation."
Vick sustained the injury on a long run against the Giants back on Oct. 6 in a 36-21 triumph at the Meadowlands. When Vick left that game, the Giants threw their original game plan out the window and focused on stopping running back LeSean McCoy because backup QB Nick Foles isn't much of a running threat.
"We expect him to be the Mike Vick of old," Tuck said. "I know he always enjoys playing us and vice versa."
Foles is expected to miss Sunday's game after he suffered a concussion in Sunday's 17-3 loss to the division-rival Dallas Cowboys, who took over sole possession of first place in the NFC East with the win. Foles did conditioning work with the trainers and hasn't been cleared to practice. He stepped in for Vick against the Giants, passing for 197 yards and two scores.
The Eagles had won two in a row before the Cowboys game and hope to put an end to an annoying nine-game home losing streak. The last time the Eagles won at the Linc was a 19-17 decision over the Giants last Sept. 30.
Getting a victory on Sunday in front of the home crowd will be tough because Philly's defense is just as bad as New York's. The Eagles are only 26th in points allowed (28.0), 31st against the pass (311.6) and last in yards allowed (412.7). Giants quarterback Eli Manning could be in a for a field day is his offensive line permits it. Manning, though, won't have center David Baas, who was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury.
Baas hurt his knee in Monday's game against the Minnesota Vikings. It was his first game back after missing the previous three contests with a neck injury. The Michigan product appeared in three games this season. Third-year pro Jim Cordle will take over as the starting center.
New York and Philadelphia split two meetings last season, but the Giants ended the 2012 season with a 42-7 drubbing at the Meadowlands last Dec. 30. The Giants are 81-74-2 all-time in this series, while the Eagles are 9-2 in the past 11 meetings between the teams.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
McCoy was held to 55 yards on 18 carries last week and said he wasn't himself. One game after racking up 116 yards on 25 touches against a tough Tampa Bay run defense, McCoy is looking to bounce back and play a big role Sunday.
"I felt that was probably my worst performance since my rookie year," McCoy told PhillyMag.com "But I'll bounce back this week for sure. Just gotta trust in the scheme. If things are not working out, eventually they'll break."
McCoy, who leads the NFL with 685 rushing yards and 952 yards from scrimmage, didn't have a breakout performance in the first matchup with New York. He had 46 yards and a score on 20 carries, but the gameplan changed when Vick departed the game and Foles took over. That's why it's important for Vick to return at full strength because his presence makes McCoy that much better.
The Giants were able to shut down Peterson, so McCoy could have trouble.
New York is 31st in rushing (67.3 ypg) and will most likely try to air it out at the Linc behind Manning, Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. Cruz has five touchdowns in five games against the Eagles, but was taken out of the game in the first meeting this season, finishing with 48 yards on five catches.
Cruz owns three 100-yard performances against the Eagles. Nicks shredded Philly's secondary a few weeks ago with 142 yards on nine catches, but was held out of the end zone. That was Nicks' best performance of the season. Rueben Randle scored twice and had 96 yards on six catches.
Nicks, though, needs to improve, according to Giants head coach Tom Coughlin.
"He's got to improve," Coughlin said. "He's got to get better. He's got to get to a point where the reliability factor is there as strongly as it always has been. Has it been there up to this point? No, but we're saying let's work. Let's get back to work and get this done. We count on this guy."
Nick had two catches for 28 yards on Monday night.
How can the Eagles halt the longest home losing streak in franchise history? It's a difficult question to answer. The Eagles can light up the scoreboard with the best of them, but then they can lay a stinker offensively like last week versus the Cowboys.
"It's tough, it's tough," Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans said of the home woes. "Our fans are still behind us, but we know we're not getting it done at home right now, and it's disappointing not to win games at home when you have the home-field advantage.
"We have to do a better job of winning the games at home, taking advantage of our home crowd, really making it tough on opposing teams."
The Giants were the last team to lose at Lincoln Financial Field and have no plans on that happening again. But they have to stop McCoy, wide receiver DeSean Jackson and an Eagles offense that can explode out of the gate. New York is good, too, when it wants to be. It will be another NFC East grudge match on Sunday and the Eagles will do just enough to win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Eagles 24, Giants 20
10/24 16:12:18 ET