COMMENTARY | When forecasting the NFC East in 2013, it's easy to overlook the Philadelphia Eagles. After all, they finished with a record of 4-12 and ranked No. 29 in the National Football League in both points scored (280) and points allowed (444) last season.
But I wouldn't dismiss them so easily.
Under new coach Chip Kelly, the Eagles are poised for a bounce-back season, and will feature an offense that could give the New York Giants (and the rest of the division) trouble. Don't get me wrong, the Giants are still the better team overall, but there are a few reasons to be wary of the Eagles.
Saying the Eagles will give the Giants trouble isn't a wild stretch of the imagination. The Eagles have been busting the Giants' chops for the last few seasons. New York leads the all-time series versus Philadelphia (84-76-2), but it has lost eight of its last 10 games against the Eagles. Moreover, before splitting the last four games of the series, Philly had won six straight contests against Big Blue.
Chip Kelly's Uptempo Offense
Eagles fans are optimistic about Kelly and his uptempo attack, which lit up the Pac-12 Conference over the last four seasons. Under Kelly, the Oregon Ducks had a record of 46-7 and reached four BCS bowl games behind one of the most explosive offenses in the country.
Granted, there's a huge difference between the Pac-12 and the NFC East, but I expect the Eagles' revamped offense to give the Giants and other opponents trouble this season. It's not just Kelly's system. The Eagles employ some of the league's most dynamic players, including signal-caller Michael Vick and running back LeSean McCoy.
Supposedly, Vick is battling with Nick Foles for the starting quarterback job, but I expect Vick to be under center when the regular season season starts. Vick has looked supremely comfortable through the first two games of the preseason, including the Eagles' 14-9 win over the Carolina Panthers on Thursday, Aug. 15. He completed 9 of 10 passes for 105 yards, ran for 20 yards and threw an interception on Hail Mary at the end of the second quarter. But I'm not worried about Vick (or Foles), frankly.
In my opinion, McCoy is the key. He's the type of player who can excel in an open offense, like the one Philly plans on running this season. The shifty McCoy, who rushed for 1,309 yards and an NFL-best 17 touchdowns two seasons ago, is going to be a bad matchup for the Giants' vulnerable run defense. But there's another player to look out for when the Eagles line up against Big Blue this season.
DeSean Jackson, one of the biggest villains in Giants history, has looked great so far in training camp and the preseason. Giants fans rue his infamous, game-ending punt return in 2010, but Jackson's numbers have declined in each of the last four seasons. A rejuvenated Jackson would add another dimension to the Eagles' planned uptempo offense, one that the Giants may have trouble defending given their issues stopping the ball last season.
Matching Up Against the Eagles
Don't get me wrong, Kelly has to prove he can run his uptempo offense at the NFL level, but the Giants have to prove they can stop the ball this season. The Jints were burned for a single-season franchise record 6,134 yards last year and gave up numerous big plays through the air.
Big Blue upgraded its defense in the offseason, mostly by bulking the defensive line, but the Giants are a slow defensive team overall. That's partly why they struggled containing the dynamic offenses of the Washington Redskins and Atlanta Falcons, just to name a couple. Plus, we've seen the Giants have trouble making in-game adjustments. The Eagles have the weapons to expose these shortcomings.
On the other side of the ball, the Eagles will have to find a way to stop the Giants, and that's no easy task given New York's explosive lineup. The Giants had the sixth-highest scoring offense in the league in 2012. So the best way for them to go at the Eagles this year may be with all guns blazing.
Adam Martini is a freelance sports writer with more than 15 years of experience covering amateur and professional sports for several print and online media outlets. He tracked the New York Giants for Yahoo! Contributor Network during the team's Super Bowl run in 2011-12. Adam can be found on Twitter @Pegcitysports.
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