Here are some interview questions, written by me, and answered by both Jeff Shull, a featured NFL columnist for Rant Sports and a passionate New York Giants fan, and myself. The questions were originally designed for Jeff, but when applicable, I answered them myself.
Jeff: Honestly I’m reserving judgment to see how they react to the loss and if they can cut down the turnovers. I am absolutely not writing them off this early by any stretch, but I’d be lying if I wasn’t worried about my preseason pick to win the division committing so many turnovers. At the same time, it’s impressive they were able to win the first two games despite having a combined nine turnovers. As long as Michael Vick stays healthy, they’ll always be contenders.
Bryn: I’d have to say it’s too early to tell. The Eagles are expected to be one of the better teams in the league but they haven’t put together a complete game yet this season. I think the game against the Giants will really tell us a lot about this team.
2. Eli Manning has had tremendous success in the clutch against virtually every team but the Eagles. Is that a fluke or do the Eagles just have Eli’s number?
Jeff: I don’t know that I’d say Eli Manning has had zero success in the clutch against the Eagles. He won two overtime regular season games against them in 2005 and 2006, and in the 2006 playoff game he led them down the field to tie the game late, only to see the defense lose the game for him. So there are three examples of him coming through late against the Eagles. Certainly the six losses in a row were troublesome and it seemed like they had Eli’s number, but the Eagles were just better in those games. Last year Eli actually looked like he was going to drive the Giants down for a game-tying touchdown, but got nailed from behind by Jason Babin and fumbled. It’s hard to really fault him for that most QBs would have fumbled there. Still, I worry about playing the Eagles more than any other team because of that six game stretch. I don’t think they have Eli’s number, they’ve just always been a contending team since he’s been in the league.
Bryn: I really do think the Eagles have Eli’s number. Not since the second game of the 2006 season has he engineered some late game magic. The Eagles have repeatedly stopped Manning with the game on the line. They did it last year. They did it in the Miracle at the New Meadowlands comeback in 2010. They did it in 2009. And they did it at the end of the playoff win in 2008.
3. Your thoughts on the LeSean McCoy – Osi Umenyiora feud?
Jeff: I love it. I love when player rivalries add fuel to the fire of the team rivalries. It gives the game an added element and something more to look forward to on game day.
Bryn: I think it’s stupid. I don’t like players talking off the field. I want them to do their talking on the field. However, it does make me feel better that McCoy is the better player of the two.
4. Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks are probably the best 1-2 WR combination in the league. Do they have the edge against the Eagles’ Pro Bowl cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie?
Jeff: It’s hard to ignore the success Cruz had against the Eagles last year, combining for 238 yards in the two games. It will be interesting to see how the Eagles corners fair with an improved front seven bringing pressure on Eli.
Bryn: Cruz and Nicks scare me more than I can describe. They’re going to give me nightmares for the next eight to ten years. Cruz had his breakout game against the Eagles last season, and Nicks has had his fair share of solid performances against Philly over the years. I’d go with Cruz and Nicks over Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie in a second.
5. Score is 24-20. Two minutes left. 80 yards away. Your pick. Are the Giants on offense or defense?
Jeff: Defense. Eli took the lead on an 11-yard touchdown pass to Martellus Bennett, and it will be up to the defense to prevent Michael Vick from his third comeback win of the season.
Bryn: That’s a good one. Vick has had his success against the Giants in comebacks, and the Eagles have repeatedly stopped the Giants with the game on the line. But Eli scares me in the fourth quarter. As much as I don’t like to admit it, he is an elite quarterback with the game on the line (and I’m not one to throw around the word elite). He’s so due to beat the Eagles on a final drive. I really can’t get out of my head what Vick did against the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens in weeks one and two, and since he’s done it against the Giants before, I’m going to pick the Eagles on offense.
6. Michael Vick torched the Giants twice in 2010 and did nothing against them in 2011 (missing five of the eight quarters). How much does he scare you?
Jeff: Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell seemed to figure out how to slow down Vick by bringing pressure constantly from his left and forcing him to roll right. We’ll see if he continues to do the same this week, but how can Vick not scare you? He’s one of the most explosive players in the league.
Bryn: I’ll answer this as if I am a Giants fan. Vick scares me, simply because is capable of throwing for three touchdowns and running for two more in any given game. The Giants have a weak secondary and Vick and DeSean Jackson have had their share of memorable moments against the Giants. But he’s also a turnover machine. You really don’t know what you’re going to get against Vick. He could kill you, or he could kill himself.
7. Which team needs this game more?
Jeff: The Eagles need to win this game more. Despite being 2-1, the NFL world has been jumping on them for their terrible performance against the Cardinals. They need to bounce back.
Bryn: Oh, the Eagles do. Definitely. The Giants can be 6-6 late in the season and they’re basically right where they want to be: needing to reel off four straight victories to reach the playoffs. But the Eagles can’t start slow or Andy Reid may turn to rookie Nick Foles as his starter for a game, or more. There’s a big difference between the Eagles being 3-1 and 2-2. They need to win this crucial home divisional game.
8. The Giants have shown a tremendous ability to overcome injuries to key players and still win games. Is that a testament to Tom Coughlin or just the impressive depth on the team?
Jeff: It’s more of a testament to GM Jerry Reese and his staff and their ability to scout college talent. They not only hit on almost every single early draft pick since Reese took over, but they consistently find players that can contribute from the free agent pool after the draft.
Bryn: I think it’s coaching. I gain more and more respect for Tom Coughlin with each passing year. I remember counting them out with all of their preseason injuries last season. Not only did they win the division, but they won the Super Bowl. That’s coaching.
9. End of the season. Eagles at Giants. What will be at stake?
Jeff: The final game of the season will decide the division and probably have wild card implications as well. I do not believe in the Dallas Cowboys and feel like it is a two-team race for the East.
Bryn: I can’t write out the Cowboys or even the Washington Redskins yet, but I do think the final game of the season will have the division title on the line. The Eagles played the Cowboys for the final wild card spot in the season finale of 2008 and the division title in the season finale of 2009. But they haven’t played a meaningful season finale for two straight years now. That’s due to change.
10. Who wins this Sunday night battle, and what is the score?
Jeff: This game has some very familiar feelings. Giants coming off a big time win, their opponent coming off a game where they looked God-awful and have not played their best football all season long. These are the type of games the Giants lose. Just when we think the Giants are sitting pretty, they have a let down game. I see it happening again, and for fun I’ll predict 27-24, with Vick throwing a game-winning score to Brent Celek in the scenario you laid out earlier.
Bryn: My preseason pick was a 38-34 Eagles victory, with Nate Allen intercepting Manning in the end zone to clinch a victory. That would be incredibly dramatic, given the fact that the Eagles are honoring Brian Dawkins before the game and during halftime. I’ll stick with that. I want the Eagles to win a shootout as opposed to a defensive battle. Their offense ranks last in the NFL in points scored per game. Obviously that won’t last, but I trust the defense and could deal with a disappointing performance if the offense made up for it.