There are plenty of matchups that will determine the outcome of this NFC East showdown. But here are three I’m keeping an eye on.
Victor Cruz v. the Eagles secondary
Hakeem Nicks missed last week v. Carolina, but the Giants passing game didn’t miss a beat. But a lot of the Giants’ success had to do with the porous Panthers secondary.
Carolina is ranked 18th in the NFL in passing defense. The Eagles, on the other hand, are ranked No. 3.
Victor Cruz is obviously the main threat in the Giants’ passing game, with Martellus Bennett and Ramses Barden as the other key options.
Last week, in a similar situation, the Eagles used three cornerbacks to cover Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
How’d that turn out — Fitz exploited the secondary for nine catches, 114 yards and 37-yard touchdown.
Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie spent time shadowing Fitzgerald. When asked this week how the team planned to cover elite wideouts going forward, defensive coordinator Juan Castillo had this to say:
“Well, really, it just depends who the individual (is). You look at both of them (and say), ‘Okay, what receivers do I think (they match up against)?’ (An) example is the Baltimore game, you know, where you had two guys and we matched one guy with one and one guy with another and I think that’s what we’ll go with. If the team has only one guy, then you feel good about both guys and so you’re able to do that.”
Jason Pierre-Paul v. Demetress Bell
Philly is down to their third-string left tackle, with Jason Peters out for the year and King Dunlap out for another week. That leaves Demetress Bell to try and fend off Jason Pierre-Paul.
Pierre-Paul, who has 1.5 sacks to date this season, will need to be a disruptive in the Eagles’ backfield to put pressure of Michael Vick.
Bell struggled last week in Arizona. His assignment was to block Calais Campbell, who beat Bell from the onset.
Bell also had issues with linebacker Sam Acho, who beat him on an inside rush and forced Vick to throw prematurely. Acho forced Bell into a couple of holding calls.
With Peters at left tackle last season, Pierre-Paul was still a force to be reckoned with for Philly. Pierre-Paul proved to be effective with Peters blocking him and LeSean McCoy chipping him.
As stated in earlier posts, Vick has turned the ball over more than any other player in the league right now, so pressure is obviously the key to continuing that trend.
Pierre-Paul’s athleticism is also crucial to contain Vick when he moves outside the pocket.
The Giants’ defensive line ha sonly pressured quarterbacks seven times through three games, so in terms of containing Vick on the ground, linebackers may have to come into play.
Sean Locklear, Will Beatty v. Jason Babin, Trent Cole
Two line matchups — I’m spoiling you this morning. I feel like Merrill Hodge, just minus all of the factor back talk.
The Eagles D-line, ranked second-best in the NFL by Pro Football Focus. Like the G-Men, depth is one of the unit’s best traits. Behind Trent Cole and Jason Babin are Brandon Graham and Darryl Tap.
Cole has traditionally given Beatty trouble. In a dozen career games v. New York, Cole has eight sacks. In 2011, Beatty’s two worst games were against the Eagles.
The Eagles’ wide-9 defense had been a detriment to opposing quarterbacks, who own a 57.0 passer rating against through three games. Passers are completing 51 percent of their faces, with five picks v. three touchdowns.