Eagles and Giants play to escape NFC East cellar

Not too long ago, a game between the New York Giants and

Philadelphia had major implications for first place in the NFC


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.

AP NFL website: -www.pro32.ap.org