Fearless Prediction: Eagles (8-4) at Giants (7-5)
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Eagles get WR DeSean Jackson (concussion) back, and he'll team with rookie Jeremy Maclin for a pass-first gameplan. Coach Andy Reid called for just 23 passes in Atlanta last Sunday, but the temptation will be to drop back and attack the Giants' shaky secondary. QB Donovan McNabb threw three touchdown passes in the first meeting, opening holes for a ground game that averaged 7.5 yards per carry. Giants QB Eli Manning is no doubt spending plenty of time studying the film of the first meeting. The Eagles kept him confused by mixing in blitzes and dropping defenders into coverage. RBs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw can help foil that approach, but the Giants have to keep it a one-score game to remain balanced.
FAST FACTS: The Eagles are 44-1 when McNabb starts and has a passer rating of at least 100. ... The Giants have won their past 11 games in which DE Justin Tuck has at least one sack.
Inside The Camps
The Eagles' defense will get two key components back Sunday night with the return of linebacker Akeem Jordan and cornerback Joselio Hanson.
Jordan, the team's weak-side linebacker, missed the past four games with a hyper-extended knee. His absence forced defensive coordinator Sean McDermott to move middle linebacker Will Witherspoon over to weak-side and use Jeremiah Trotter inside.
Jordan also is an integral part of the Eagles' nickel package. Tracy White replaced him on passing downs.
Hanson, the team's nickel corner, also missed four games. He was suspended for testing positive for a banned diuretic. His absence was exacerbated by a season-ending injury to the Eagles' other top backup corner, Ellis Hobbs.
"Jose will go right back to where he was before he left at the nickel position," McDermott said. "We're anxious to get him back. He's a good player for us."
The Eagles are taking a wait-and-see approach with Jordan. He returned to practice last week, but experienced swelling on the knee and didn't play in last week's win over Atlanta.
If he doesn't have any more swelling this week, he'll play, but possibly in a limited role.
Judging by the last three games between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles, it would appear that the Eagles have the Giants' number. They have defeated New York by a combined 83-42 margin, which includes last year's divisional playoff game.
"I'm not going to talk about the three games," said head coach Tom Coughlin when asked if there has been a recurring thread. "I think we are well aware of the first game this year."
In their first game this year, the Eagles embarrassed the Giants 40-17. Philadelphia outgained the Giants 291 yards to 256 and amassed a whopping 180 rushing yards.
"We gave up a lot of big plays and didn't stop the run," Coughlin said.
"Again, I think that is where it starts for us."
The good news is the Giants' revamped defense performed much better against the run last week, limiting Dallas to 45 yards after the Cowboys had gashed them on the ground for 251 yards in their first meeting this season.
So naturally, the Giants are hoping to take away the Eagles' rushing game and force them to try to beat them via the pass.
If they do shut down the run, the Giants are optimistic that the changes they've made on defense will make for a long and miserable evening for Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb.
"If anything you really want to try to keep everything in front and kind of frustrate them and make them take a shot downfield and hopefully get a pick off that," said cornerback Terrell Thomas of the Giants' goals. "They're an explosive team that uses the run to set up their pass more than you think, so I think making them one-dimensional is going to be huge."
PREDICTION: Eagles 20-17