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Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants: Five Players, Five Things to Watch

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COMMENTARY | It's one of the great rivalries in NFL history. The Philadelphia Eagles have played more games against the New York Giants (160), won more (75) and lost more (83) than they have against any other opponent. It's been a series the Eagles have dominated in recent years, winning eight of the last 10 meetings.

It is Chuck Bednarik vs. Frank Gifford, Pete Retzlaff vs. Sam Huff, Randall Cunningham vs, Lawrence Taylor, Reggie White vs, Phil Simms. But it's more than that. It's Philadelphia versus New York, blue collar proletariat against haughty aristocracy. At least that's a pretty common perception of this civic rivalry, depending on where you live. It's the haves versus the have-nots on the football field. The Giants have four Super Bowl trophies. The Eagles have none.

So the fact the two teams have one win between them entering Week 5 of the 2013 NFL season means little here. This will be a war just because it always is.

The Eagles enter this game at 1-3 with a solid win over the Washington Redskins and three straight ugly losses to AFC West teams, the San Diego Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos. The Giants lost a tight one to the Dallas Cowboys in their season opener, and have since gotten blown out in successive weeks by the Broncos, the Carolina Panthers, and the Chiefs.

The game at MetLife Stadium will be televised by FOX, beginning at 1 p.m.

Five Players to Watch

LeSean McCoy, Eagles - He leads the NFL in rushing, but you may see him used as a slot receiver in an attempt to free up outside threat DeSean Jackson. Jackson has been covered by multiple defenders on virtually every snap because no other Eagles receiver has been able to find open space with any consistency. McCoy is the primary reason the Eagles are second in the NFL in total offense.

Eli Manning, Giants - It is hard to see what else Eli needs to accomplish in his career to join his brother Peyton in the Hall of Fame someday. Eli has two Super Bowl rings and really can manage a game with the best of them, when he gets time. Thus far this season, he's had so little time to operate he has been known to collapse before a pass rush even gets to him, just to save himself another jarring hit.

Connor Barwin, Eagles - The linebacker has 21 tackles, two sacks and two passes knocked down. The Eagles are dead last in total defense and are second-last to the Giants in scoring defense. But Barwin has managed to play very well in difficult circumstances.

Justin Tuck, Giants - The veteran defensive end defended his head coach, Tom Coughlin, this week saying anyone he catches turning on the struggling team will get a punch in the mouth. The winless Giants are no doubt eager to a man to punch anybody at this point. Tuck has been a key figure in many Giant defenses that have punched the Eagles over his nine seasons. If the Giants can rebound Sunday, Tuck will likely be in the middle of it.

Jason Kelce, Eagles - He's the center of an offensive line that has allowed Michael Vick to be sacked nine times in the past two games. Vick has also been pressured into passing at a 47 percent clip over that span. Kelce anchors a unit that is considered one of the Eagles' strengths this season. The o-line has done an excellent job creating space for McCoy's runs. More consistency has to be found as far as Vick's passes.

Five Things to Watch

Chip Kelly's creativity - We suggested using McCoy as a possible slot receiver. But the Eagles' first-year head coach may have other ideas. He possesses one of the most innovative minds football has produced in quite some time. We know he doesn't have all the pieces he would like at his player disposal, so maybe it's time to shake up the puzzle.

Tom Coughlin's ears - Here's a guy who is likely for the Hall of Fame as well, given his two Super Bowl championships. You might remember he also led the Jacksonville Jaguars to two NFC championship games, the first in only the Jags' second year as a franchise. But he's returning home after losing two road games by a combined 69-7 score. Can't imagine Giant fans will be greeting him or anyone else wearing blue too warmly, at least at first.

DeSean Jackson's butt - Will the Eagles' wide receiver be sitting down when the Giants are punting? I would think Coughlin still gets nightmares about Jackson's walk-off punt return for the winning touchdown in 2010. Damaris Johnson has the only returns on punts for the Eagles thus far, but you'd think having Jackson back there this week would be worthwhile if only to create some opposition anxiety.

Eli Manning's poise - This is a very good quarterback who is coming off two horrid weeks. He's been sacked 10 times, thrown two interceptions and lost two fumbles while his offense accounted for just one score in that fortnight. He's throwing nine picks compared to six touchdowns over the season. But let's remember this isn't Eli's first rodeo. If he gets into a rhythm, we all know how good he can be.

Herman Edwards circa 1978 - It's been 35 years since the Eagles cornerback picked up a fumble and returned it for a touchdown in what became known as the "Miracle at the Meadowlands." Giants' quarterback Joe Pisarcik only needed to take a knee to end the game, but instead turned to hand the ball off to running back Larry Csonka, who wasn't expecting it. The exchange was botched, the ball fell to the ground and Edwards picked it up and gave the Eagles an unlikely 19-17 win. Think FOX will find a way to work that famous footage into Sunday's telecast, giving it's the 35th anniversary?

Ted Williams lives in Emmaus, PA and is a lifetime Eagles follower. He spent 20 years in print journalism, winning state and national awards.

Sources:

The Football Database - http://www.footballdb.com

ESPN.com - http://www.espn.com

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