Eagles and Giants play to escape NFC East cellar
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Not too long ago, a game between the New York Giants and Philadelphia had major implications for first place in the NFC East.
This year, looked a lot lower.
The Giants (0-4) and Eagles (1-3) will be playing to escape last place when they meet Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Tom Coughlin and his Giants are desperate for a win. The Eagles have not won since Chip Kelly's impressive NFL coaching debut in the opener against Washington.
Neither team has done anything on defense. The Giants have allowed an NFL-high 146 points, with Philadelphia holding the No. 31 spot just eight points less than that.
Offensively, Philadelphia and its quick tempo offense have a clear advantage over the Giants, who have been outscored 69-7 the past two weeks.
In any event, it's uncharted territory for both teams who are used to challenging for a division title. They did early last year before stumbling and missing the playoffs.
"I'm very surprised, especially when our division was picked to be among the top," Eagles quarterback Michael Vick said. "That's football, man. It goes to show you how you have to be on top of your game. You have to be ready to go at all times and you have to win at the end of the day."
The Giants had chances to win their first two games against Dallas and Denver, but were a beaten team long before the fourth quarter against Carolina and Kansas City, which also beat the Eagles earlier this season.
"It's very frustrating and we have to turn it around and start making plays," defensive end Justin Tuck said. "That's it. I wish I could say the effort's not there, I wish I could say that we hadn't had good practices, I wish I could say I didn't believe in the scheme, I wish I could say I didn't believe in the personnel. If I told you that, it would be a lie because I do believe in it. But right now we're just not in harmony. "
Five things to watch when the Eagles and Giants renew their New Jersey Turnpike rivalry:
PROTECTING THE QBS: Neither team has done much to keep Eli Manning or Vick healthy. Vick has been sacked 14 times and he's getting hit just as much when he gets rid of the ball. Manning also has sacked 14 times playing behind an offensive line that seemingly has a new face every week. The new face this week might be veteran David Diehl, who did not play in the first four games because of a broken right thumb.
MIA RECENTLY: Eagles WR DeSean Jackson had 16 catches for 297 yards and two TDs in the first two games. In the last two he has had only five catches for 96 yards and no TDs. Although Victor Cruz has raised his game even with the offense slumping, catching 26 passes for 425 yards and four of the Giants' seven TDs, Hakeem Nicks, in the final year of his contract, didn't catch to a pass in the loss to Carolina, and had a couple of deep balls go off his fingertips against the Chiefs.
WHERE IN THE WORLD IS JPP?: Jason Pierre-Paul has been the playmaker of the Giants' defense for the past three years. He had back surgery in June to repair a disk problem and he has yet to show his old self in four games. He has 12 total tackles and one sack. If the Giants are going to make a miracle comeback in the NFC East, JPP needs to find himself.
ANGRY BIRDS: That's the way the Eagles have played against the Giants in recent years, winning 10 of 12. New York, however, had its best game against Philadelphia at the end of last season, winning 42-7 at MetLife Stadium in what would be Andy Reid's final game as Philadelphia's coach. The way these teams are playing, who knows what to expect this year?
STOPPING THE RUN: The Giants came into the season vowing to stop the run. While they have been successful at times, they find themselves ranked No. 28 season and facing the league's top running game. The Eagles are averaging close to 200 yards rushing in Kelly's no-huddle offense. Giants nemesis LeSean McCoy leads the league with 468 yards on 78 carries, a 6.0 yard average. He has rushed for at least 100 yards in four of six games vs. the Giants. New York is also banged-up in the middle of the line with starting tackles Linval Joseph and Cullen Jenkins hurting.
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Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press
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