This is it. Game of the Century V2. In game 1 against the Eagles, the Giants could not run the ball at all and it really hurt the offense. Giants ran for only 61 yards that game, the only game of the year where the Giants were held under 100 yards rushing. Was that game an anomaly? Or is the Kevin Killdrive offense so predictable and the Eagles so familiar with their in-division rivals that they simply cut everything off. Don't forget, last time, the Giants did not have a full complement of WRs for the Eagles to worry about and the OL was hurting, with O'Hara still out, Diehl out, Boothe in his first game at G and LT Shawn Andrews hobbling around on a weak back.
The truth is, even that 61 yard rushing total was misleading, because 22 of the 61 yards came on scrambles by Eli Manning, one of them ending in the fumble that effectively ended the game. So looking at the RBs, their results were even poorer: Bradshaw had 12 carries for 29 yards and Jacobs had 5 for 10 yards, for a total of 17 carries for 39 yards. Of those 17 carries by the RBs, 15 went to the right side, behind the side of the OL that was solid, uninjured and had played a few games together. The situation is different this time around - all 5 OL-men that started the season, and if fact the same 5 that started the Super Bowl in 2007 are healthy and participated fully, with no limitations in practice. I suspect that the Giants will slide O'Hara in at C and move Seubert back to G, sending Boothe back to the bench as a very good substitute. On the other side of the ball, facing this reconstituted OL is an Eagles front that has 2 starters, the MLB and the LDE out because of injury. The replacement for Bradley at MLB is also hobbling, so the Giants will have no excuses if they can't get their running game going. In fact, I think that is one of the keys to the game. Will the Giants OL and running game be productive and even dominant over the Eagles defense.
On the defensive side of the ball, can the Giants recreate their good scheme from the first game and keep Michael Vick contained? The worry there is that Andy Reid is a great offesnive coach and, having looked at Fewell's scheme, I am sure he will be able to come up with somehting to counter what the Giants did the first time around. Eagles are loaded with speed, so the Giants DBs have to keep everything in front of them and the Giants DL, playing so well in the last few games, have to put more pressure on Vick and keep him contained.
On offense, aside from running the ball effectively, the Giants should not be conservative with their passing game and should try to make big plays down the field. The Eagles think they can pick off Eli every time he throws the ball and have said as much in the papers. They will be jumping routes anticipating these easy throws by Eli. With the OL back in shape, Eli should have time to go down the field and test the Eagles secondary. With Eagles DBs playing aggressively, a double move on the outside to Manningham would be an interesting play. The Eagles sell out to stop the run, even more than other teams and they should be vulnerable to play action fakes or even a trick play - like a handoff to Jacobs and a pitch back to Eli.
On the first play of every game, it seems, Eli fakes a hand-off to the RB on a run to the left, rolls out to his right and throws either a 6 yard pass to the TE or a 12 yard pass slightly deeper on the sideline to a WR. Why not try something different and throw deep early on the Eagles. That would set an aggressive tone to the game, but at the end of the day, in the northeast, you have to pound the other guys with your running game.
Looking back at the last game, the Giants played poorly, could not run the ball, turned it over 5 times and still managed to take the lead in the 4th quarter on the road. If they elevate their game just a little and can move the ball better offensively, they have a good chance to win the game.