Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hope From New York

Dave Blezow gives some hope in the NY Post:
The Giants have the hearts of champions, a healthy Brandon Jacobs and, for the first time since their early bye in Week 4, a rested and rejuvenated squad. What they don't have is the luck of the draw. While the No. 2 seeded Panthers welcome a glass-jawed flag football team for their divisional game, the top-seeded Giants are locked into a death struggle with a back-from-the-dead division rival who won on this very turf five weeks ago.

Since the early morning of Nov. 29 when Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg, the Giants are 2-3 and have scored an average of 19.6 ppg. In the first 11 games, they averaged 29.9. The tall wideout's absence was felt in the 20-14 loss to the Eagles on Dec. 7 when his replacement, Dominik Hixon, dropped a sure-TD bomb early and the Giants managed only a blocked-field-goal TD and a too-little-too-late score. Burress in man coverage was the Giants' No. 1 antidote to the Eagles' blitzes. The other red flag was the beating Eli Manning took in Dallas the following week. Manning will not be throwing from a hermetically-sealed pocket this Sunday.

Statistically, these teams are about as even as can be, which is stunning for a 1-vs.-6 matchup. The Eagles' average score is a 26.0-17.8 win; the GiantsNew York Giants average a 26.7-18.4 win. Both are ranked in the Top 10 in virtually every yardage category, and the Eagles have the edge in passing offense, total defense, rushing defense and passing defense.

Last year, the Giants were the incredible story; this year, the Eagles are writing it. Their quarterback was benched; their top running back is hurt for 165 out of 168 hours every week; and they needed the Raiders to come back from 10 down in the fourth quarter at Tampa Bay just to have a chance at the playoffs.

The pick: Eagles +4
I like the Eagles too. Sort of. To be honest, the winner is going to be the team that gets the most bounces and breaks. I don't know which way they're gonna go- so I'll take the free points.