Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 9:
The Eagles have to account for Dwight Freeney at all times. The Indianapolis Colts' All-Pro defensive end can absolutely take over a game, and that's why Eagles coach Andy Reid better make sure left tackle Jason Peters has some help a lot of the time. Peters has been a major disappointment for the Eagles the past two seasons, but maybe he'll display all that talent that he's rumored to have in this game. Scout-teamer Pannel Egboh has been playing the role of Freeney in practices this week. Left guard Todd Herremans told me Thursday that Egboh had really worked hard to pick up some of Freeney's moves, but it's a little difficult because he's 5 inches taller than the Colts' defensive end.
The Giants are looking for some noise reduction in Seattle. I'm told the architecture at Qwest Field matched with the enthusiasm of the home crowd is what has caused a league-leading 99 false starts since 2005. The Giants have worked on silent counts this week and they know how important it is to be successful on first down in this environment. They are the top team in the NFC on first down with 6.47 yards per play. Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride has done everything possible to script himself a touchdown on the first drive Sunday. If the Giants score first, I think the crowd won't be as much of a factor. The Giants let the Lions hang around too long at home. If they have a chance to bury the Seahawks, they better get it done.
Will the nation get to meet Tashard Choice on Sunday night? The Cowboys' third-string running back has been told to "get ready" for this game against the Packers, according to various reports. Choice has been quite forthcoming about the Cowboys' plans to get him involved in the running game early against the Packers. I know Felix Jones is going to play, but don't be surprised if Choice gets at least 10 touches against the Packers. And in Jason Garrett's pass-happy offense, that would qualify as quite a workload.
Michael Vick needs to make plays while protecting himself in this game. I don't think Peters is going to play a clean game against Freeney, so Vick may be on the move from the jump. But he has to be wise about scrambling. If he has to slide instead of diving forward to get a first down, so be it. This guy is a huge injury risk based on the way he plays the game. Vick will take off and run at some point, but he has to know when to call it quits. I'm also anxious to see how DeSean Jackson performs after returning from a concussion. I would not put him back on punt returns in this game, although Reid said he has been working back there in practice this week.
Giants need to pound Charlie Whitehurst into submission early. The Seahawks' backup quarterback will face a defense that has been very opportunistic in recent games. Osi Umenyiora was named NFC Defensive Player of the Month for October and I think he's poised to have a big game. The Giants also need Jason Pierre-Paul to continue his progress on defense and special teams. He needs to do some of the things that Mathias Kiwanuka (out for season) was able to do. I think the Giants will win this game handily because Perry Fewell's defense is poised to have a great effort against a young quarterback who isn't aided by a top running back.