Friday, September 28, 2012
Next-level preview: Giants at Eagles
By Kimberly Meyer, Michael Bonzagni and Evan Kaplan | ESPN Stats & Info
The Giants will head down to Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday for their first meeting this season with the Philadelphia Eagles. In 2011, the teams split their season series, with each team winning on the road.
The Giants are coming off a lopsided 36-7 win over the Panthers last Thursday. After Week 2 injuries to Hakeem Nicks and Ahmad Bradshaw, the Giants were led in Carolina by wide receiver Ramses Barden and running back Andre Brown, who each tallied more than 100 all-purpose yards.
The Eagles, meanwhile, struggled against the Cardinals, losing 27-6 and turning the ball over three times, including two fumbles by Michael Vick.
Here are some areas to keep an eye on Sunday night:
Passing Against 5+ Pass Rushers This Season
Yards per att
>>Second-lowest among qualified QBs
• Thus far, the 2012 season has produced dramatically different results for Eli Manning and Michael Vick when they face added pass pressure.
Heading into Week 4, Manning is second in the league against added pressure in yards (382) and is tied for second in the league with three touchdowns in these situations. Vick has struggled when facing added pressure, completing less than 40 percent of his passes. The Eagles quarterback is likely going to deal with a lot of pressure from the Giants on Sunday. New York has blitzed a defensive back against Vick on over 41 percent of his dropbacks in the past three seasons, compared to 17.1 percent of the time against every other opponent.
• Over the first three weeks of the season, Vick leads the league in number of dropbacks taken while under duress (39). In such situations, Vick has thrown two interceptions, been sacked once and is only completing 22.2 percent of his passes. Perhaps partly due to the pressure he has faced, Vick has also struggled on throws outside the pocket. This season Vick has two interceptions outside the pocket, nearly as many as he had the entire 2011 season (3). He is also completing just 31.3 percent of his passes when outside the pocket this season, which would be on pace for his lowest completion percentage in the last four seasons.
• Stopping the Eagles’ running game (specifically LeSean McCoy) will be a key for the Giants. Since the start of the 2010 season, McCoy has run roughshod over the Giants, with more rushes (71), rush yards (416) and yards after contact (130) than any other Giants opponent over that span.
The Giants have especially struggled to stop McCoy on rushes between the tackles. More than 75 percent of McCoy's 416 yards were on rushes between the tackles, where he gashed the Giants for 317 yards and 108 yards after contact in the previous two seasons.
However, McCoy is not the only Eagles runner to give the Giants trouble. Vick became the starter for the Eagles in Week 1 of 2010, and since that time, he has the fourth-most rush attempts (28) and third-most rush yards (195) of any player against the Giants.
Passing More Than 10 Yards Downfield This Season
Yards per att
>>Lowest in NFL
• The Eagles' defense has excelled at defending the deep ball this season, allowing the fewest yards per attempt, pass first downs and lowest Total QBR on throws that travel more than 10 yards downfield. They will have their hands full with Manning, though, as he has been successful when throwing deep in 2012. Manning leads the league with four touchdowns on throws that travel more than 10 yards downfield, and his 99.3 Total QBR on those throws is tied for third in the NFL among qualified players.
• Victor Cruz has been Manning's favorite target this season on throws that travel more than 10 yards downfield, leading the Giants with 165 yards and six receptions on those throws. Cruz will be returning to Philadelphia for the first time since his 110-yard, two touchdown performance in Week 3 last season. Cruz had 238 receiving yards and 120 yards after the catch against the Eagles in 2011, both of which were his most against any team.