This entry is late, so there’s not much point in going into heavy details of the Eagles’ win in Minnesota. To be honest, it’s a game they should have won. They were the better team. The fact that it took them until the 4th quarter to finally break away was mostly the result of a very lackadaisical first half (the kind of half they can ill afford if they hope to beat the Giants this week). But they came to play in the second half, completely dominating the Vikings on both sides of the ball. McNabb handled bad field position in the third quarter like the veteran he is, twice leading the Eagles on long drives that, while they did not produce any points, ate up the clock, wore down the Vikings’ defense, and shifted the field position. The Birds’ defense and Westbrook did the rest.
Peterson had a good first half, but he basically disappeared in the second half as the Eagles defense shut him down. Meanwhile, Westbrook’s brilliant touchdown run is the type of highlight that will be replayed for years to come. Yes, there was great blocking on the play, but there are only a handful of backs in the entire league who could have taken that screen pass all the way to the house. Okay, so I guess I wrote more about the game than I was planning to. Anyway, on to the Giants.
This is going to be a tough game for the banged-up Birds as they must now travel to the Meadowlands after a very physical game in Minnesota to face a well-rested Giants team, especially if the brutal weather being predicted for the game comes to pass. An optimist would say that the Eagles just dominated the Giants a month ago and they can do it again. A pessimist would say that it’s very difficult in the NFL to beat the same team twice in such a short span, especially a division rival. An optimist would say that the Eagles have been on a roll over the last month while the Giants finished the season 1-3. A pessimist would say that a bad weather game favors a running team like the Giants.
All of the above points are valid, but in the end this is a game that will largely be decided by the Eagles’ defensive line. In the first matchup this season, the Giants won the game by running all over the Eagles’ defense. In the second game, the Eagles shut down the Giants’ running attack and dominated the game from start to finish. If the Birds can shut down the Giants’ backs, they should win the game, because Manning will not beat them. Of course the wildcard, as always, is Andy Reid. If he tries to throw the ball 40-50 times in blustery conditions, it could get ugly. However, if he sticks to the running game even if it’s not working (as he admirably did last week), I like the Eagles’ chances.
As for my prediction . . . come on, do you really think I’m picking against the Eagles? Whether it’s my head or heart speaking doesn’t matter. This is a blog, not a newspaper. With that in mind, we’re looking at a close game, as every Eagles/Giants matchup seems to be. In a defensive struggle, I will go with the Birds’ defense, which is playing as well as any in the NFL right now, having given up 14 points or less in five straight games. The weather will keep the final score fairly low: Eagles 20, Giants 16.