Last week I told you why the Falcons weren’t a team to worry about. Of course, they ended up beating the Eagles. Now I’m going to tell you that this week’s opponent, the Giants, are a surprisingly worrisome matchup. Given my track record, the Eagles will probably end up blowing out the Giants. But let me air my concerns anyway.
On the whole, the Giants defense is an injury-riddled unit. But those pass rushers still look formidable. I have no desire to see Justin Tuck bearing down either on injured Michael Vick or first-time starter Mike Kafka. If the Eagles quarterback - whoever it is - can get time to throw, the Giants secondary is eminently beatable. But will they have that time? So far Howard Mudd’s offensive line has exceeded my expectations. Let’s see if they can keep it up this weekend.
I also worry, as usual, about the Eagles run defense matched up against a team that enjoys playing power football. Looking at the Adjusted Line Yard stats for the Eagles defensive line is instructive. The attacking defensive line is definitely disrupting running backs, as the Eagles have the second best “power success” rate and fifth best “stuffed” rank. But once the play gets to the linebackers, yikes. The Eagles are ranked 29th in “second level” rush yards (5-10 yards from scrimmage) and 31st in the “open field” (10+ yards). And don’t expect some big improvement just because the Eagles are rearranging the deck chairs.
Finally, isn’t odd that people don’t seem concerned about Vick missing this game? Perhaps fans are more sure that Vick will return from his concussion than I am, but I don’t know what that’s based on. As of Thursday morning he hadn’t passed his concussion tests. Is everybody sure that Kafka can win the game on Sunday? He looked like he belonged last week, and might have been a Jeremy Maclin drop away from winning the game. Not to mention, his performance was better than other, more highly touted quarterbacks coming off the Eagles bench in the past. But will he be able to step up for a full game? That’s still very much up in the air.
The most lopsided matchup in the whole game will be Eli Manning against the Eagles pass rushers and cornerbacks. Luckily for the Eagles, Manning doesn’t have a Hall of Fame tight end to rely on either. So there’s a good chance they will sack and pick off Eli enough to obviate any other issues.
But if that’s not enough, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Photo from Getty.