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Eagles-Giants: What you need to know

mike wisniewski csnphilly

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 11:27 AM

Wisniewski

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Eagles-Giants: What you need to know

December 30, 2012, 6:00 am

MIKE WISNIEWSKI
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Eagles (4-11) vs. New York Giants (8-7)
1 p.m. on FOX

The Eagles’ disastrous season will come to and end Sunday, and all signs point to Andy Reid’s tenure finishing up, too. Michael Vick will likely also make his last start in midnight green.

Nevertheless, after losing 10 of their last 11 games, the Eagles have a chance to sweep the season series with the Giants and eliminate their NFC East rival from playoff contention. The Birds have won eight of their last nine meetings with the Giants.

Need any other reasons to tune in for Sunday’s game? Here’s everything else you need to know.

Injuries

Eagles

Out: DT Fletcher Cox (concussion), LB Mychal Kendricks (concussion), TE Evan Moore (back)
Questionable: RB Chris Polk (toe)
Probable: WR Jason Avant (calf, hamstring), FB Stanley Havili (hamstring), WR Jeremy Maclin (knee), G Evan Mathis (ankle)

Giants

Doubtful: CB Prince Amukamara (hamstring), DT Chris Canty (knee), CB Jayron Hosley (quadriceps)
Questionable: WR Hakeem Nicks (knee), S Kenny Phillips (knee), DE Justin Tuck (shoulder)
Probable: C David Bass (hip, shoulder), RB Ahmad Bradshaw (knee, foot), S Tyler Sash (hamstring), G Chris Snee (hip)

Offense

Eagles

Total: 357 yards per game (12th, NFL)
Passing: 239 ypg (14th)
Rushing: 118 ypg (11th)

Nick Foles is out with a fractured hand, so Michael Vick will be under center for the first time since suffering a concussion against the Cowboys on Nov. 11. The start will be just the 10th of the season for the four-year Eagle — his lowest total since 2009, when he was the third-string quarterback behind Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb.

Vick has averaged 241 passing yards per game in 2012 and tallied 11 TDs, but he's also fumbled 10 times and thrown nine picks. The Birds are 3-6 with Vick as the starter this year.

LeSean McCoy, who returned last week for the first time in over a month, will anchor the backfield. The tailback hasn’t reached 20 carries since Week 4 against the Giants, a game in which he ran for a season-high 123 yards.

But expect the G-men to fear Vick most — he’s won three of four career starts against them with the Eagles, including the 2010 “Miracle at the New Meadowlands.”

Giants

Total: 353 ypg (14th)
Passing: 241 ypg (12th)
Rushing: 112 ypg (17th)

The overall numbers don’t look bad — the Giants sit in the middle of the pack in most categories, and their 25.8 points per contest ranks ninth — but recently they’ve struggled. They followed up a shutout loss to Atlanta two weeks ago with a 33-14 clunker to the Ravens last Sunday.

Eli Manning has thrown for just 311 yards combined in his last two games while completing 51 percent of his passes and tossing one TD against two interceptions. Unless he passes for 260 yards against the Eagles, he’ll fail to reach 4,000 yards for the season for the first time since 2008.

Victor Cruz has had to carry the receiving corps as Hakeem Nicks has played banged up for most of the season. Cruz leads the team with 1,040 yards and nine TDs, but his production is still down from last year’s 1,536-yard total. In 12 games, Nicks has amassed just 692 yards and three TDs.

In the backfield, Ahmad Bradshaw needs 92 yards for his second career 1,000-yard season. The six-year pro previously accomplished the feat in 2010 — the only season he’s ever played in all 16 games.

Defense

Eagles

Total: 340 ypg (14th)
Passing: 217 ypg (11th)
Rushing: 122 ypg (22nd)

After an eight-week drought, the Eagles’ D finally pulled in a pick against the Redskins last week, but the unit also yielded 27 points and sacked an ailing Robert Griffin III just once. The Birds haven’t had much success in either department this season — their 29 team sacks sit 25th in the NFL while their eight interceptions are 30th.

Only Kansas (12) has fewer takeaways the Eagles' 13.

In their previous matchup with the Giants, the Birds allowed Manning to throw for 309 yards for two TDs and an interception on 24-for-42 passing. Cruz and Domenik Hixon both crossed the century mark in receiving yards. But the Eagles held the Giants to 17 points in the process, one of only three times this season they held an opponent under 20 points.

Giants

Total: 388 ypg (30th)
Passing: 257 ypg (28th)
Rushing: 130 ypg (25th)

The Giants’ defense is even worse than the Eagles’ and perhaps one of the worst in the league — they did, however, limit the Birds to 19 points in their last meeting.

One reason for their poor performance has been the decline of their pass rush. Jason Pierre-Paul has recorded 6.5 sacks — 10 less than last year’s total — and aging Osi Umenyiora has just six.

The Giants have made up for it with their ability to get takeaways. They have 34 total, third-best in the league, and a plus-13 differential (fifth-best). It could prove a deadly against the turnover-happy Eagles, who picked up a victory in the first matchup largely because they didn’t cough up the ball.

Series history

Overall meeting: 162nd (Giants lead series, 83-76-2)

Last meeting: Eagles 19, Giants 17 — Sept. 30, 2012 at Lincoln Financial Field

Lawrence Tynes missed a 54-yard field goal with 15 seconds to play, got a second opportunity following a highly criticized Andy Reid timeout, and missed again to hand the Eagles a 19-17 win on the same night the team retired Brian Dawkins’ No. 20.

Alex Henery gave the Birds the lead for good with his go-ahead 26-yard chip shot with 1:49 to go. It was one of four field goals the second-year kicker made on the night as the Eagles scored just one touchdown on a 19-yard Vick-to-DeSean Jackson connection in the second quarter.

Vick threw for 241 yards on 19-for-30 passing and ran for an additional 49. McCoy had his biggest game of the season and Jackson caught six balls for 99 yards. On defense, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie picked off Manning on the opening play of the fourth quarter.

Believe it or not…
The Eagles haven’t lost a game in the Meadowlands since 2007. The five-game road win streak, which includes a 2009 postseason victory, is the longest since 1974-81, when the Birds rolled off eight straight (including one at the Yale Bowl).

Andy Reid
Big Red is currently the longest tenured coach in the NFL and the second-longest in the history of Philadelphia pro sports. Only Connie Mack — the iconic manager of the A’s from 1901-50 — lasted longer.

In 14 years, Reid has compiled a 140-101-1 record, which includes his 10-9 record in the postseason. But the coach hasn’t guided the Birds to a playoff win since 2008 and has led the team to just one NFC Championship Game appearance in the last eight years after doing it four times in his first six seasons.

Connections
Before Giants head coach Tom Coughlin helmed two Super Bowl-winning squads, he broke into the NFL with the Eagles as a wide receivers coach in 1984.

Third-year Eagle Brandon Hughes spent 10 games on the Giants’ practice squad in 2010.

Giants offensive line coach Matt Rhule will leave the team following the season to take over as Temple’s head coach, replacing the recently departed Steve Addazio. Rhule previously served as an assistant for the Owls from 2006-11.

Recommended reading
In case you missed some of this week's stories ...

Our predictions

Eagles head coach firings over the years

Reid not seeking year off, Vick wants to start

Didinger's Eagles-Giants scounting report

What if Lurie decides not to fire Reid?

Focused Reid refuses to reflect on his job

Eagles' assistants facing uncertain future

E-mail Mike Wisniewski at mwisniewski@comcastnets.com