Giants-Eagles Preview

The New York Giants have lost four straight games to the Philadelphia Eagles. Beating the Eagles looks even tougher now the way Michael Vick is playing.

These NFC East rivals meet with first place on the line Sunday night as they showcase the top offenses in the conference when Vick and the Eagles host Eli Manning and the Giants.

Philadelphia (6-3) put up totals of 85 points and 765 yards in sweeping the season series from New York (6-3) last season for the first time in five years. The Eagles also beat the Giants twice the year before, ending the defending Super Bowl champions’ season in a divisional playoff game.

Donovan McNabb was the quarterback in all of those games, but the Eagles appear more formidable with Vick behind center. Vick leads all players with a 115.1 passer rating, and turned in a virtuoso performance in Monday’s 59-28 rout at Washington.

Vick completed 20 of 28 passes for four touchdowns and 333 yards and ran for 80 yards and two scores on eight carries. He’s the first player in NFL history to amass 300 yards passing, 50 yards rushing, four passing TDs and two rushing scores in a single game.

"To you it looked like we played with ease, but this game is tough," said Vick, who has yet to throw an interception. "Nothing comes easy. It’s not going to be easy against New York. It wasn’t easy against Washington. It may have looked easy, but it wasn’t."

The Giants have the top-rated defense in the NFL, allowing 270.2 yards per game. That unit, though, looked awful last Sunday as it allowed Jon Kitna to throw three touchdowns and Dallas to amass 427 yards in a 33-20 loss that ended New York’s five-game winning streak.

Getting back on track against Vick seems less than ideal. Vick’s last start against the Giants was in 2006 when he was with Atlanta along with current New York linebacker Michael Boley.

"There is nothing like it at the quarterback position," Boley said of Vick’s speed. "I even said even after he got in the trouble he got in, after being out that long, he was such a better athlete than most quarterbacks in the league that the bar is still pretty high for him."

The Eagles are averaging 400.2 yards per game, which is second in the NFC to New York’s 409.8. Manning is tied for the league lead with 19 touchdowns and second-year receiver Hakeem Nicks is tied atop the NFL with nine touchdown catches.

"They’re a good football team and we have to make sure we go through the preparation and process of getting ready to play not only the number one defense in the National Football League, but also their offense is very explosive," Philadelphia coach Andy Reid said.

The Giants will be without Pro Bowl receiver Steve Smith for the second straight game after Smith tore a pectoral muscle in practice last Thursday.

In addition, New York’s offensive line will likely again be without starters Shaun O’Hara and David Diehl, although a familiar face to the Eagles could be starting.

Shawn Andrews, a first-round pick by Philadelphia in 2004 who made two Pro Bowls with the Eagles, has been replacing Diehl at tackle. Andrews, though, missed practice on Wednesday with an undisclosed back problem, and his status is uncertain.

"There’s nothing like going up against your old teammate," Eagles defensive end Trent Cole said. "After having time off and getting his back straight, I think he’s a tremendous player. He did a great deal for us here in Philadelphia. I consider him one of the best offensive (linemen) in the league."

This game also features the top rushing teams in the NFC, with Philadelphia ranking first at 151.1 yards per game and New York at 146.9. Ahmad Bradshaw is third in the league with 838 yards for the Giants.

The similarities continue with Philadelphia leading the conference with 257 points, and New York second at 236. Giants coach Tom Coughlin emphasized that the major difference between the teams is that the Eagles lead the league in turnover margin at plus-12 compared to New York’s minus-five.

"When you play Philly, you have to play perfect," Manning said. "Everybody has to be on the same page and everybody has to see things the same way. Routes have to be perfect, and the offensive line has to know who they’re blocking and be ready for their blitz packages and everything they’re doing."

The last time the Eagles beat the Giants five straight times was 1990-92.