By Brad Carroll
It's not often you hear about the New York Giants getting involved in a controversy leading into a game, but that's what happened this week before playing the Philadelphia Eagles on the road. Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Prince Amukamara were photographed with a Giants fan who was wearing an Eagles jersey with SUPERBOWLS on the name plate and the number 0 on the back. Both Giants corners made circles with their hand in the photo.
Some Eagles didn't take too kindly to the leaked photograph.
The Eagles weren't going to be outdone leading into the rivalry game, as the team had a video posted on their website of a "scared" Eli Manning getting haunted by Eagles defenders before running out of Lincoln Financial Field with his jersey hiding his eyes. You can watch the video here.
Both blew up on social media. But none of it should change what happens on the field, even if it does give this game more juice than it already has.
The New York Giants have won three straight games to get back into the race for the NFC East crown, but Sunday night's game against the Eagles will be a good barometer for exactly how good this team really is. The Giants are coming off victories over the Texans, Redskins and Falcons, not exactly a group of title contenders. But if the Giants win in Philadelphia on the road, the team and fan base can start thinking big.
The Eagles are 4-1, winning their first three games with big comebacks, then losing to the 49ers on the road, before holding on to beat the Rams last week. The Eagles are tied with the Cowboys for first place in the division, one game ahead of the Giants.
Here are the Giants keys to what would be a huge road victory in Philadelphia. Read our game predictions here and follow us on Twitter for all our Giants news and analysis.
Andre The Giant
It's no secret the moment the Giants started playing better this season, in Week 3, was when they were able to control the game on the ground. Rashad Jennings rushed for 176 yards against Houston that week and kept the strong running going against Washington and Atlanta. But Jennings was injured in the win over Atlanta and will miss this game in Philadelphia. That means rookie running back Andre Williams will have to step up and carry the load against the Eagles. Williams ran 20 times for 65 yards and a touchdown last week against the Falcons, taking over full-time after Jennings was lost for the game early in the third quarter. Sunday's game in Philadelphia will be the Boston College product's first true test as a running back in the NFL. If he picks up where Jennings left off, the Giants will be that much closer to a road win. If Williams plays poorly, the Giants will be in deep trouble.
Keep Foles Under Pressure
The Giants are finally starting to get a consistent pass rush, bringing back memories of their most recent world championships. Last week against Atlanta, the Giants had just one sack, a take-down by Johnathon Hankins that sealed the game, but they hit Matt Ryan eight times and had five tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Jason Pierre-Paul, who could be key to a Giants playoff run this season, had two quarterback hits and a pass knock down. Eagles quarterback Nick Foles has the ability to put up big numbers in the passing game, but he's also proven this year to be inaccurate for long stretches and be turnover prone. If Foles is able to sit in the pocket and find open receivers, the Eagles win. If the Giants put the pressure on Foles, and force him into quick decisions, the defensive backs could make a couple of big plays that could change the game completely. Pressure and take down Foles and the Giants should be in position to win.
Slow Down 'Shady'
A lot of pressure will be on the Giants defensive front seven to play well against Philadelphia. Not only do they have to find a way to pressure Foles in the passing game, but they have to focus on shoring up their rushing defense as well. Opposing teams have found success against the Giants this season, and if that continues against the Eagles, Big Blue will head home feeling blue. LeSean "Shady" McCoy is one of the league's most explosive backs, and even though he has struggled so far, gaining 273 yards and a touchdown in five games, he can take over a game all by himself. Plus, he saves some of his best performances for this rivalry matchup, as he has rushed for more yards against the Giants than any other team The Eagles also have Darren Sproles as a huge playmaker the Giants will have to account for in both the running and passing game. If McCoy goes off for a big game Sunday night, the Giants won't have a chance. Slow him down, and keep Sproles in check, and the Giants could be tied for first place at the end of the night.