Hidden Keys to the Eagles-Giants Game

Hidden Keys to the Eagles-Giants Game
January 9, 2009, 11:40 am
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We've talked about some of the more obvious aspects of the game.  Let's face it, like both teams are familiar with one another, we too have a good idea of how these games usually play out and some of the tendencies of the New York Giants.

Besides stellar individual performances from the game's playmakers, there are always a few overlooked aspects that push the odds in one team's favor.  So what sort of football-type stuff will be the difference between winning and losing?  A breakdown after the jump.

Time of Possession

We already touched on this, but didn't really explain why it's so important.  In Week 10, the Giants perpetrated one of the most lopsided 36-31 victories in the history of the NFL.  I'm really not interested in how the Eagles almost won the game because they certainly didn't deserve it.

New York imposed its will all night, rushing for almost 6 yards a clip and controlling the ball just short of 40 minutes.  Think about that.  Two-thirds of the game, the Giants had the ball.  They set the pace, which contributed to the Eagles frantic Reidball gameplan.  They wore down a defense that had already failed to stop the running game from the outset. 

The Eagles don't necessarily need to win time of possession, but it must be near even or they won't win.  It's that simple.  If the Giants are dominating the clock, that means A) the defense isn't getting off the field on third down, and B) too many three-and-outs for the offense.  That's a recipe for losing.

Field Position Battle

This may be the biggest factor for the Eagles to be successful on Sunday.  One reason why they beat the Vikings were two drives where they started pinned inside their own 20, but were able to pick up a few first downs and reach midfield.  Both trips ended in punts, but they reversed the field position and forced Minnesota to go the distance.

They cannot punt from their own territory often and expect to keep the Giants from scoring.  For one, Sav Rocca struggled mightily to punt even one decent ball in the swirling winds of the Meadowlands earlier this season, so they can't rely on the kicker to change their fortunes.

On each possession, the offense must move the chains a few times and at least put their defense in a favorable position to keep the other team off the board.  The Giants are not as effective in the red zone, but they walk off the field with 3 more often than not, so putting them on the 50 is like giving away points.

Fred Robbins v. Eagles Interior Linemen

The player who scares me the most is not Brandon Jacobs, it's DT Fred Robbins.  In game two, the Eagles catalyst for victory was a strong day running the football.  What fell by wayside in Philly was the fact that Robbins was not 100%.

I'm not sure how many Eagles fans are familiar with Robbins' work, but he is probably the most underrated player in this match-up.  Robbins is a Pro Bowl caliber lineman who clogs running lanes and adds pressure on the quarterback.  He sets the tone for the D line, the kind of player that could see the attention of multiple blockers, creating one-on-one for the ends.

If Robbins is healthy, for the second week in a row Westbrook may find holes lacking, and whenever that's the case there is always the chance Reidball will return.  This will be the most interesting battle on the field come 1 pm, because it has the greatest potential to sway the coach's gameplan and ultimately alter the final outcome of the game.

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