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Week 6 Preview: Giants at Eagles

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New York Giants (3-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (2-3)

Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET, at Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis – TV: ESPN

*TV announcers: Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters

*Keys to the game: The Eagles ran the ball effectively for the first time this season last week on New Orleans (a season-high 186 yards on 32 carries), but the Eagles might just come out throwing against the Giants to get QB Sam Bradford going early. He has struggled in the first halves of games. He has a 65.6 first-half passer rating, but a 102.1 rating in the second half.

Look for the Eagles to throw a lot to TEs Zach Ertz and Brent Celek. The Giants have had problems defending the tight end in their first five games. With linebackers concerned about intermediate receivers, the Eagles will introduce zone runs with Ryan Mathews and DeMarco Murray, looking for chunk plays.

The Giants are feeling their way along the offensive line. The massive assignment this week is DT Fletcher Cox, who devoured Saints blockers last week. New York can dictate alignment to an extent by keeping their three- and four-wide receiver sets on the field. Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis openly criticized his team on third down, where they’ve allowed conversions 42.1 percent of the time.

RB Shane Vereen, who wants a bigger role with the Giants, might get his wish this week. QB Eli Manning was successful in recent games peppering the Eagles with underneath throws and attacking the flats before popping big plays downfield.

*Matchup to watch – Eagles CB Byron Maxwell vs. Giants WR Odell Beckham: A tight hamstring forced Beckham to the sideline last week but he said he’ll be good to go Sunday. Beckham caught 12 passes for 185 yards and a TD against the Eagles in Week 17 last season, one of the reasons the Eagles spent big on Maxwell.

*Player spotlight – Eagles S Walter Thurmond: For all the sensible second-guessing of Philadelphia’s offseason personnel puzzle, sliding Thurmond from cornerback has been a big win. He’s rated No. 3 at safety in the NFL by Pro Football Focus through five games.

*Fast facts: Manning has three TDs and four INTs in the past four meetings. … Cox had a career-high three sacks with two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery last week.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

The unexpected is commonplace in this NFC East rivalry. If the Eagles fix their third-down woes, they could pull a surprise, but slowing down the Giants won’t be easy.

*Our pick: Giants 27-25.


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