Giants at Eagles -- Week 4
Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia (combination turf and grass)
When: Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)
Spread: Eagles by 1.5
Forecast: Low-70s; partly cloudy; 10 percent chance of rain.
2012 records: Eagles (Overall: 2-1; NFC East: 0-0); Giants (Overall: 2-1; NFC East: 0-1).
Past results: The teams split last year's meetings -- Nov. 20, 2011: Eagles 17, Giants 10; Sept. 25, 2011: Giants 29, Eagles 16. Series record (including playoffs): Giants lead 83-75-2.
What matters: The Eagles have the league's third-ranked pass defense, which means the Giants -- a team that has relied on the pass in recent years -- could be tested Sunday night. WR Hakeem Nicks (swollen knee, foot) is “doubtful,” but since RB Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) is returning and backup Andre Brown is coming off a 113-yard performance against the Carolina Panthers, it's time for the Giants to win a game on the ground. New York needs to run the ball to keep Philadelphia's front four from focusing on rushing QB Eli Manning. If they have to worry about the run, the Eagles' linemen can't stay with the same technique throughout the game.
Who matters: Everyone has been impressed with Giants TE Martellus Bennett, with the exception of Bennett himself. Although he's averaged five catches and a touchdown per game, Bennett (6-foot-6, 269 pounds) thinks he's capable of more. Sunday night could be the perfect opportunity. The Giants will either have a severely limited Nicks or no Nicks at all, and Victor Cruz is sure to draw plenty of defensive attention. The Giants would be thrilled to see Ramses Barden repeat his Week 9 effort (nine catches, 138 yards), but the best bet -- particularly in the red zone -- may be Bennett.
Key matchups: The Giants' pass rush has been underwhelming through three games. Jason Pierre-Paul and Osi Umenyiora each have a sack, but Justin Tuck hasn't even touched a quarterback. Now that the Giants have a four-man rotation at defensive tackle (backups Markus Kuhn and Marvin Austin had 15 and 17 snaps, respectively, in the last game), Tuck won't have to rotate inside as much, which means he'll get his chances on the edge. Michael Vick has been sacked nine times and hit 28 times this year. That means all eyes will be on Eagles Ts Todd Herremans and Demetress Bell, who will be charged with facing Umenyiora, Tuck and Pierre-Paul.
Injuries of note: Right tackle David Diehl (knee), LB Keith Rivers (hamstring) and CB Jayron Hosley (hamstring) are all out. Diehl and Rivers can be replaced by veterans Sean Locklear and Michael Boley, but Hosley's absence means first-year S Will Hill will see time at nickelback. Also, CB Michael Coe (hamstring) and S Antrel Rolle (knee) are questionable. Corey Webster will play with a cast on his broken right hand, but he had several picks with his left hand in practice this week.
Inside stuff: Giants CB Prince Amukamara will get his first start Sunday night, which is fitting, as he picked off former Eagles QB Vince Young in his first game last season. Amukamara said his agent, Todd Francis, sent him a poster of the play, which Amukamara has yet to post at his house. The play was actually Amukamara's first as a professional.
Connections: Eagles RB LeSean McCoy and Umenyiora are acquainted, but the two teams have some familial bonds as well. Eagles LB Brian Rolle is the cousin of Giants S Antrel. Eagles defensive backs Brandon Hughes and David Sims each spent time with the Giants. Finally, Giants coach Tom Coughlin and cornerbacks coach Peter Giunta have each served as assistants with the Eagles.
Stat you should know: In two games against the Eagles last season, the Giants had 102 rushing yards in Week 3 (a win) and 29 yards in Week 11 (a loss). New York needs to have success on the ground because if Philadelphia can focus on the pass, Manning will be under fire all night. The Giants' comeback fell short last season when Eagles DE Jason Babin sacked Manning and forced a fumble late in the fourth quarter.
Prediction: Giants 26, Eagles 23