Speaking with the Enemy: A Look at Sunday's Giant Clash

Speaking with the Enemy: A Look at Sunday's Giant Clash

Perhaps overlooked amid several of the other huge stories going on around town, the Philadelphia Eagles, winners of three straight, are locked in a first place tie over the NFC East, and must play the Giants in New York this Sunday night. It's kind of a big deal. We see the Giants a lot, but they're a bit of a different team this season, so we asked Rick Resch from Giants Football Blog some questions about their current make-up, and what we can expect to see this week and maybe even down the road.

Donovan McNabb had one of his best games of the season the last time these teams met (you knew I was going there). If Osi Umenyiora doesn't make his presence known, and he hasn't been having his best season, do the Giants have enough of a pass rush otherwise to match up against the Eagles' explosive offense?

The Giants' pass rush has disappointed all season, and while I'd love to see it come alive Sunday night, I don't know if I can honestly predict that.  Even in a rejuvenated performance against the Cowboys, Romo was usually given enough time to find an open receiver.  I could see the Giants doing what they did against the Cowboys and lock down on the running game, making the Eagles' offense one dimensional (which might actually play into Andy Reid's hand).

Specifically on Osi, he has basically been relegated to a part time player, only getting on the field in passing situations.  He does have a nose for the big play, but he is lacking on a play-to-play basis.  Mathias Kiwanuka started in his place last week, and he is the better overall player right now.  If the Giants are going to get their pass rush going, it'll start with Justin Tuck and Kiwanuka winning their battles.

The Giants just recently lost the quarterback of their defense in Antoino Pierce, pressing second year linebacker Jonathan Goff in at middle linebacker. How did he perform in his first start last week against the Cowboys, and what are his limitations or those of the defense when he's in the game?

I thought Goff played well given that it was his first start.  He plays the run very well and is faster than I thought, although he did over-pursue the ball carrier a couple of times.  It's still too early to tell if he can be the future at MLB, but I saw more positives than negatives in his first game.  

As for the loss of Pierce: it hurts in a leadership perspective, although last week Pierce was on the sideline acting as a coach/cheerleader.  Michael Boley has stepped into Pierce's shoes as the quarterback of the defense, and I feel that he is the linebacker most suited for the role.  When healthy, Boley has been the Giants' best linebacker, Pierce included. 

The Giants rushing attack has been averaging 124.6 (10th) yards per game, which is somewhat surprising because they haven't been able to get both Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw going within the same 60 minutes for much of the season. Jacobs in particular has struggled. The offensive line has been healthy, so what is the problem?

This actually surprises me; I didn't know the Giants still averaged that many rushing yards.

My opinion is that there are three problems with the Giants' running game.  Jacobs seems to be running a tad bit more cautiously than in the past, although recently he looks like he's been running harder.  Bradshaw has been plagued with injuries, although he looked like his old self last week. 

Most importantly, the offensive line just hasn't been playing like it had the past couple of years.  Both Jacobs' and Bradshaw's troubles are related to the lack of holes being opened up by the offensive line. They are getting pushed around by defenses, and my only guess is that age has finally started to catch up with them.  I hope that they can keep momentum going from their performance last week, but I'd be less surprised if the Giants go into the offseason with offensive line as a top priority.

Like the Eagles, the Giants have a deep group of young receivers. Steve Smith is having what could be considered a Pro Bowl season, though I'm not sure we're talking about a dominant player here. Will he ultimately wind up the best of the bunch, and how would you describe Mario Manningham's and Hakeem Nicks' roles compared to Smith?

I am very high on the Giants' receiving core, as I believe the team has turned a weakness into a strength.  Coming into the 2010 season, wide receiver depth will be one of the Giants' greatest assets.

I think Nicks will become the best of the bunch, probably by next season.  He has deceptive speed, good strength and the best hands on the team.  He has a knack for making the big play, and he has already become a go-to weapon for Eli when he's on the field.

Manningham's biggest problem is a common case of the butterfingers.  When he has the ball in his hands, he can be as tricky to tackle as anyone, and he does a great job of keeping his feet in bounds along the sidelines.  But he's always a candidate to drop or bobble a ball.  If he can get past the drops, he can turn into a very good NFL receiver.

Steve Smith is one of the most confusing players on the team.  He's not that fast, he's not tall and his go-to move after making a catch is the "fall down."  Yet, on third downs, it is impossible to cover him.  At least a couple times a day, I find myself saying "how can they let Smith get that open?"  Whenever Eli needs a first down, he's usually looking for Smith, who just knows how to find soft spots in the defense.

Coming into the season, I expected Smith to be relegated to slot receiver, while Nicks and Manningham would become the focus of the passing attack.  But 78 catches and almost 1,000 yards later, I have learned not to underestimate Steve Smith.  So, no, Smith does not have a dominant skill set, and he's not a prototypical number one receiver.  But it's hard to argue that a guy on pace for 104 receptions and 1305 yards is not a dominant player.

Right now, who would you say most Giants fans feel will win the NFC East?

It's funny what one big win can do for a fan base.  I think most Giants fans are pumped up by the win over the Cowboys, and having gotten a glimpse of what this team can do when firing on both sides of the ball, a newfound hope has been restored.  I'd say that most Giants fans expect to make the playoffs, and a good deal of them believe they will win the division.

Personally, given the Cowboys' tough remaining schedule, I think there's a good chance that the winner of Sunday night's battle will take home the division crown.

Let's get ahead of ourselves.  Which team would you feel more comfortable facing in a potential playoff game: Eagles or Cowboys?

Any team can beat any other team in the NFL, and for that reason, I usually don't get caught up in rooting for a certain playoff opponent.

With that said, I do think I would feel less comfortable playing a team that has knocked us out of the playoffs twice in the past three years.

The Giants have beaten the Cowboys twice, albeit in two well contested games, and their Winter struggles are well documented.  But we've all seen heavy favorites fail to win that third playoff game after sweeping the regular season series, and the Cowboys are due to bust out of their cold-weather slump.

In the end, I'd welcome either challenge.  But if I had to pick one, not knowing what the outcome of Sunday night's game will be, I would choose the Cowboys.

Prediction time: who you got on Sunday?

Obviously, I have to pick the Giants, which is why I don't like doing predictions.  So instead I'll say this:

I fully expect the Eagles' offensive line to keep Donovan McNabb clean once again.  If the Giants can get more than two sacks, I'll do naked cartwheels in Times Square.  And with a healthy DeSean Jackson and the emergence of Jeremy Maclin, no pressure would mean McNabb can pick apart the Giants' secondary.

So if the Giants' offense can come out with a balanced attack and put some points on the board, I think the Giants can win.  But if they wait till there's 4 minutes left in the first half to score, it could be a long day.

I'd say if the Giants can score more than 30 points, they should be able to win.  If the defensive line somehow plays like its 2007, things can swing in the Giants' favor.

These are some big ifs, but as I said, I have to have faith in my team.  I'll say Giants 31-30.

But I hate doing predictions.

That was Rick Resch from Giants Football Blog. You can check out our interview with Rick right here.

NBC Sports Philadelphia Internship - Advertising/Sales

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NBC Sports Philadelphia Internship - Advertising/Sales

Position Title: Intern
Department: Advertising/Sales
Company: NBC Sports Philadelphia
# of hours / week: 10 – 20 hours

Deadline: November 20

Basic Function

This position will work closely with the Vice President of Sales in generating revenue through commercial advertisements and sponsorship sales. The intern will gain first-hand sales experience through working with Sales Assistants and AEs on pitches, sales-calls and recapping material.

Duties and Responsibilities

• Assist Account Executive on preparation of Sales Presentations
• Cultivate new account leads for local sales
• Track sponsorships in specified programs
• Assist as point of contact with sponsors on game night set up and pre-game hospitality elements.
• Assist with collection of all proof of performance materials.
• Perform Competitive Network Analysis
• Update Customer database
• Other various projects as assigned

Requirements

1. Good oral and written communication skills.
2. Knowledge of sports.
3. Ability to work non-traditional hours, weekends & holidays
4. Ability to work in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment
5. Must be 19 years of age or older
6. Must be a student in pursuit of an Associate, Bachelor, Master or Juris Doctor degree
7. Must have unrestricted authorization to work in the US
8. Must have sophomore standing or above
9. Must have a 3.0 GPA

Interested students should apply here and specify they're interested in the ad/sales internship.

About NBC internships

Eagles-Redskins predictions by our (cough) experts

Eagles-Redskins predictions by our (cough) experts

For the second straight game, the Birds are in primetime. And this time, it's in front of the home fans. 

Following last week's Thursday night win over the Panthers, the 5-1 Eagles host the 3-2 Redskins Monday night (8:30 p.m./ESPN).

It's a massive opportunity to sweep the Redskins and take control of the NFC East. 

Our experts provide their predictions for Week 7:

Reuben Frank (6-0)
Do you really think I’m going to pick against the Eagles now? Heck, I might not pick against them the rest of the year. Maybe at Seattle. Honestly, I look at the schedule and the way they’re playing? The way Carson Wentz is playing? Unless something fundamental changes — which in this league is always possible — it could be a while before they lose a football game. The Eagles are rolling in all phases, and Monday night will be a good test — the Redskins are 3-1 since losing the opener to the Eagles, with the only loss to the same Chiefs team that handed the Eagles their only loss. The 'Skins are sixth in offense and 12th in defense. They lead the NFL in yards per pass play. They can be explosive. They’re eighth in rush defense. Nothing will come easy for the Eagles Monday night. But the Redskins are not coming into the Linc and winning. Eagles go to 6-1 and virtually clinch the NFC East Monday night with a win.

Eagles 31, Redskins 21

Dave Zangaro (4-2)
Washington seems like a much more dangerous team than the one the Eagles faced in the opener on Sept. 10. 

But the Eagles are a heckuva lot more dangerous too. 

Since the Eagles went to Washington and came away with a win in the opener, Washington has gone 3-1. But the Eagles have gone 4-1 with the one loss coming to the Chiefs. The Eagles have the best record in football. 

So sure, they shouldn't head into this Monday night game expecting a cakewalk but they should absolutely expect to win. They're the better team. 

Kirk Cousins has played well as of late but the Eagles' defensive line was able to get after him in Week 1. If that group does it again, it won't matter how good Cousins is throwing the ball. As good as Cousins has been recently, Wentz has been equally impressive, vaulting his name into the forefront of the MVP conversation. This week he'll go against a banged up Washington secondary. 

The Eagles have a chance to further extend their lead in the NFC East and they shouldn't have a problem doing it. 

Eagles 31, Redskins 23

Derrick Gunn (5-1)
Because they have the best record in the NFC, the Eagles have a huge target on their backs and everybody is gunning for them. On Monday night, the Redskins are hoping to take them down a notch. The ‘Skins come limping to the Linc. Their star rookie defensive lineman Jonathan Allen is done for the year with a Lisfranc injury. Their starting cornerbacks Josh Norman (rib) and Bashaud Breeland (knee) both might miss this key divisional showdown.

Wentz has the Eagles' offense rolling, and the defense has been rock solid against the run. Cousins will go after a Birds secondary ranked 29th against the pass (273.5 yards per game). One of the key matchups to watch closely is how the Eagles will try to defend against ‘Skins running back Chris Thompson, who is Washington’s leading rusher. More importantly, he’s their leading receiver, averaging 18.9 yards per catch.

In Week 1 the Eagles sacked Cousins 4 times, but since then he’s only been sacked 4 times. The Birds broke the ‘Skins jinx in the season opener. I look for the home team to make it a season sweep.

Eagles 28, Redskins 24

Ray Didinger (5-1)
The Redskins are playing better now than they were when the Eagles defeated them in Week 1. The offense is more balanced and they have found an explosive weapon at running back in Thompson, who is averaging almost 19 yards per reception. The defense is not making as many mental mistakes but it will miss top draft pick Allen, who broke his foot last week.

Still, the formula for beating the Redskins is the same as it was a month ago and that is getting pressure on Cousins. The Redskins quarterback is having a good year — his 106.4 passer rating trails only Alex Smith and Tom Brady — but if the Eagles can harass Cousins as effectively as they did in the opener they will complete the season sweep of the Redskins. I think they will.

Eagles 30, Redskins 21

Andrew Kulp (5-1)
Everything points to the Eagles here. They’re a hot team, well rested, the offense is clicking and the quarterback is absolutely feeling it. Washington will be without Norman and possibly Breeland at cornerback as well, among other injuries, so this is a shorthanded group.

The only concerns are it’s a divisional matchup, which tend to be close games, and whether the extra few days off knocks the Eagles out of a rhythm. Otherwise, it’s clear which is the healthier and more talented squad. Oh yeah, and the capacity Lincoln Financial Field crowd is going to be extra lathered up for a Monday night.

Eagles 41, Redskins 24

Corey Seidman (3-3)
The Eagles are getting healthier and the Redskins are not. First-round defensive lineman Allen is out for the season, and both of Washington's starting cornerbacks (Norman and Breeland) are banged up.

Add in the fact that the Redskins haven't yet been able to get Terrelle Pryor or Jordan Reed going and this just looks like an Eagles win, which would give them a commanding lead in the NFC East and go a long way toward helping them secure a playoff bye. Yep, I'm already going there.

Zach Ertz dominates the 'Skins again, Alshon Jeffery finds pay dirt and the Eagles improve to 6-1.

Eagles 31, Redskins 23

Andy Schwartz (5-1) 
No suspense here.

After an impressive victory over the Panthers, how can we pick the Eagles to lose?

Which doesn’t mean they won’t. Every team throws in a clunker now and then. But until this team does, I’m not going to predict it. Especially when they’re well rested and playing at home against a team they’ve already beaten this season.

The Eagles are favored by 4.5 with an over/under of 48.5. Seems about right. A late Jake Elliott field goal covers the spread but isn’t enough for the over.

Eagles 27, Redskins 20