Eagles-Giants scouting report

Posted: December 30, 2012

This is it.

Sunday's game against the New York Giants is the last of the season, the last of Andy Reid's 14-year run as Eagles coach (definitely), and the last for Michael Vick in midnight green (almost definitely).

Not many predicted that Reid and Vick would go out this way - one loss from a 4-12 finish. Vick, of course, did not play for one of those wins and five of those losses. A concussion and then the decision to go with rookie Nick Foles sidelined the quarterback for six weeks.

But when Foles fractured his hand last week, Reid went back to Vick for one last hurrah. The last real hurrah came in Week 4 with a 19-17 win over the Giants that made the Eagles 3-1.

They're 1-10 since, however, and have little left to play for besides knocking the Giants out of the playoffs. The Giants have lost five of their last seven and need a minor miracle - losses from the Cowboys, Bears, and Vikings coupled with a win over the Eagles - to clinch a spot.

Here's how the teams match up:

When the Eagles run

Reid said he had planned on using a little less of LeSean McCoy (13 carries for 45 yards) and a little more of Bryce Brown (four carries for 18 yards) last week against the Redskins. But McCoy insisted on more snaps and the Eagles strayed from the ground game in the second half. The Eagles could tip the balance in favor of the run this week with Vick back under center for the first time since Week 10. Maybe then fans will get a glimpse of what a McCoy-Brown tandem will look like next season. It is unlikely to happen, though, with Reid still in command. McCoy was excellent in the first meeting with the Giants, rushing for 123 yards on 23 carries, including 104 yards in the second half. The Giants have allowed a fourth-worst-in-the-league 4.6 yards per carry on the ground. Their best run defender, aside from defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, is safety Antrel Rolle. Linebackers Michael Boley and Chase Blackburn have been deficient as run-stoppers. The Eagles have averaged just 2.8 yards a carry over the last three games behind an offensive line that has struggled to open holes.

Edge: EAGLES

When the Eagles pass

Vick had his best game of the season back in Week 4 against the Giants. He completed 19 of 30 passes for 241 yards and a touchdown and ran for 49 yards, but most important he did not turn the ball over. He has not played in weeks, though, and will need some time to get back up to speed. It might not take too long against a Giants pass defense that is 30th in the league in yards per pass play (7.8). The Giants have countered some of their deficiencies in the air with 20 interceptions, although they have only one pick in their last five losses. Their pass rush has been the driving force behind their defense for years, but the line has been pedestrian for much of the season. A year after getting 161/2 sacks, Pierre-Paul has seen countless double teams and has only 61/2 sacks. He is still to be reckoned with, however, and lines up almost equally over the left tackle (King Dunlap in this case) and right tackle (Dennis Kelly). Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg will likely draw up a lot of plays that have Vick getting rid of the ball quickly. Jeremy Maclin (eight catches for 116 yards and a touchdown last week) and McCoy (9 for 77) could be the main recipients. Maclin tweaked his knee during Wednesday's practice, but is expected to play.

Edge: EVEN

When the Giants run

After missing a game with an ankle injury, Ahmad Bradshaw returned last week against the Ravens but finished with just 39 yards on nine carries. The Giants running back was kept in check in the first meeting with the Eagles (13 rushes for 39 yards), but he has 908 yards rushing this season. Rookie David Wilson busted out with 100 yards on 13 carries on Dec. 9 against the Saints and is averaging 5.1 yards. The Eagles will be without their top run-stopping defensive tackle with Fletcher Cox sidelined with a concussion. Cox had his way with Giants right guard Chris Snee in the first game. Linebacker Mychal Kendricks will also be out with a concussion. Akeem Jordan will take his place at weakside, but strong-side linebacker Jamar Chaney will play in the nickel defense with middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans (a team-leading 16 tackles for losses).

Edge: EVEN

When the Giants pass

The Giants have mustered just 14 points over the last two games largely because their passing game has fallen apart. Quarterback Eli Manning has completed just 27 of 53 passes for 311 yards with one touchdown against two interceptions over the span. Victor Cruz leads the Giants with 82 catches for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns, but the wide receiver has just six catches for 36 yards in the last two games and has dropped 11 passes this season. Cruz did burn the Eagles for nine catches for 109 yards and a touchdown in September. Hakeem Nicks is the Giants' most sure-handed receiver, but he has been hobbled by injuries. Eagles cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will likely switch up on the pair. The Giants offensive line, led by left tackle Will Beatty, has allowed a league-low 19 sacks. A game after notching six sacks, the Eagles defensive line failed to drop Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III last week. Defensive end Brandon Graham has been playing inspired football and will match up with Giants right tackle David Diehl, who has been a below-average pass-blocker this year.

Edge: GIANTS

Special teams

The Eagles tried Bryce Brown as a kick returner again and he was again just as ineffective as Brandon Boykin has been most of this season. Either could handle kicks Sunday. The Giants' Wilson, meanwhile, is averaging an explosive 26.9 yards per kick return. Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes is second in the NFL with 139 points and has connected on 33 of 39 field goal attempts. The Eagles' Alex Henery (27 of 30) missed out on the Pro Bowl but is still having a solid sophomore year. The Giants have been middle of the road with their cover units - 16th on punt and kick returns - while the Eagles have been bad all season - 30th and 22d.

Edge: GIANTS

Intangibles

Only the Chiefs (37) have more turnovers than the Eagles (36). Only the Chiefs (12) have caused fewer turnovers than the Eagles (13). . . . The Giants' plus-13 turnover differential is fifth in the league. . . . The Eagles have won eight of their last nine against the Giants and have won five straight in New York. . . . The Birds have the worst point differential (-129) in the NFC. . . . The Giants have the best (+50) point differential in the NFC East. . . . Giants safety Stevie Brown leads the team with seven interceptions. . . . Last week, safety Colt Anderson recorded the Eagles' first interception in nine games.

Edge: GIANTS

The Pick

Giants, 28-27.


Contact Jeff McLane at jmclane@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @Jeff_McLane.

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