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Predictions & Projections
David M. Dorey
The Huddle
September 9, 2004
Season Ticket
Thu 9 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
Sun 1 PM SD at HOU OAK at PIT NYG at PHI Mon 9 PM
JAX at BUF TEN at MIA TB at WAS Saturday no byes
  New York Giants Rush Catch Pass
QB Kurt Warner 0 0 220,1
RB Tiki Barber 80 20 0
RB Ron Dayne 30 0 0
TE Jeremy Shockey 0 40 0
WR Amani Toomer 0 60,1 0
WR Ike Hilliard 0 40 0
WR Tim Carter 0 30 0
PK Steve Christie 2 FG 1 XP -
  Philadelphia Rush Catch Pass
QB Donovan McNabb 30 0 270,3
RB Brian Westbrook 50,1 30 0
RB Reno Mahe 20 10 0
TE L.J. Smith 0 30 0
WR Terrell Owens 0 120,2 0
WR Freddie Mitchell 0 20 0
WR Todd Pinkston 0 50,1 0
PK David Akers 1 FG 4 XP -

NYG (0-0) vs PHI (0-0)

Game Prediction: NYG 13, PHI 31

For a common matchup every season, this game should end up looking unlike any of recent history. Philly is going to be passing with a lesser defense to rely on and the Giants are still trying to keep Coughlin from yelling so much.

Pre-Game Notes - NYG

The Giants brought in HC Tom Coughlin this season and so far the results have been less spectacular than desired. The offensive line is still a mess, the defense is struggling and somehow Ron Dayne suddenly looks like an option if you watch only the right plays in the preseason.

Quarterback: Kurt Warner takes the first start over Eli Manning but that's likely more related to saving Manning than preferring Warner. If someone has to get blasted on a blitz, why throw out the expensive one? Manning is the future and his involvement will be a matter more of management than need.

Running Backs: Discounting the two big runs in the preseason - and you really should - Ron Dayne has not shown the ability to gain the short yardage that his girth suggests should come naturally and that same girth prevents him from being an every down back that can take it to the house on any carry (KC second string defense not withstanding). Tiki Barber remains the most talented back and while yes, he had a fumbling problem, he has yet to fumble this summer and Coughlin instills enough fear that Barber will likely change his style if only to hold on to the ball.

The game will be interesting to watch to see what happens in the possible sharing between Dayne and Barber but initial bets are to disregard Dayne until he flies past a first team linebacker.

Wide Receivers: Warner will have nice targets in Amani Toomer and Ike Hilliard though a clear step down from his previous set of Holt and Bruce. Coughlin prefers ball control and rushing when possible so improved numbers from Toomer or Hilliard only indicate that games are not going well early enough to force plenty of passes in the second half.

Tim Carter remains the intriguing #3 with tremendous speed that is only exceeded by his propensity to get injured.

Tight Ends: Jeremy Shockey is a big difference maker but still has yet to play since his foot surgery. He claims he is good to go on Sunday and also says he will not change the way he plays just because it seems to get him injured. Hopefully Shockey will be healthy long enough to see the offense start to come together but that might take more time than Shockey has traditionally had to give in a season.

Match Against the Defense: The Eagles no longer feature Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor and instead will be relying on second year players Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown. That might give more room to throw for Warner but no guarantee that he will have time to pass nor that Brown and Sheppard won't play well anyway. The Eagles signed Jevon Kearse as one way to increase the pressure on quarterbacks and Warner, here lately, has not done that well with pressure if in fact he still is holding the ball.

The rushing game should have a slightly easier time now that strong side LB Carlos Emmons is not there and his replacement of Dhani Jones missed the last three preseason games with an high ankle sprain that may force him to miss this week as well. Weak side LB Nate Wayne is also questionable this week with a hamstring injury. That bodes better for Barber and Dayne though the offensive line continues to reshuffle and likely will not be cohesive in the first game out if in fact they don't produce several breakdowns in the face of the aggressive scheme of the Eagles.

Pre-Game Notes - PHI

The Eagles are trying a different tact for once. They no longer have plenty of running backs and yet easily the best receiving crew that Donovan McNabb has ever had as an Eagle. His last game against the Giants resulted in 314 yards passing and two scores. Imagine what he can do with Terrell Owens instead of James Thrash.

Quarterback: Donovan McNabb the runner gets to give way to Donovan the passer. Maybe not exclusively, but after the Eagle's showered Terrell Owens with a fortune, there is no doubt that the next NFC Championship game won't find the Eagles in a gun fight while holding only a steak knife. With the loss of Correll Buckhalter, again, chances are McNabb will need to throw and run more.

Running Backs: What a difference a year makes. Brian Westbrook has gone from being the #3 back to being the only certain value in the backfield and unquestioned starter. The only remaining unknown is how long he will last given that he already was getting banged up in 2003 when he only had 116 carries. with Duce Staley in Pittsburgh (and undoubtedly snickering) and Correll Buckhalter on IR, the Eagles running game has officially gone down to Westbrook, Reno Mahe and Thomas Tapeh.

Westbrook will never be a 20 carries per game runner, at least not for long, but he remains an integral part of the offense and as such worth protecting. This week should give a better idea how Mahe will be worked into the rotation and how much the Eagles will be leaving the rushing game to pass instead.

Wide Receivers: Once a liability, now Terrell Owens alone makes this a strength. Impressive in the preseason, Owens knows he will be the focal point of the entire passing attack and realistically - wasn't that all he ever asked for? His presence should help pop Todd Pinkston free on some deep routes since the opposing safeties will have all new priorities this season. Freddie Mitchell continues in the slot and might make some noise when the ground game falters or Westbrook is injured.

Tight Ends: Along with Owens, L.J. Smith injects some enthusiasm into the pass attack with nice progress during his rookie season but most importantly during this summer. Chad Lewis lost a step a while back and Smith should provide a good target for McNabb which only improves with time.

Match Against the Defense: New York has tried changing up the defense for an improvement over 2003 and only Michael Strahan remains from the original front line. They brought in Carlos Emmons at LB and several other free agents but the net effect so far has been disappointing. This is a work in progress that won't be nearly ready for the division champs on Sunday.

Westbrook had over 100 total yards against the Giants last year on only 14 touches and should come close to that again.

The passing attack should see Owens pitted against CB Will Allen and the 5" disparity in height should become apparent pretty early. This is a showcase for what the Eagles have become and Owens will be a constant target. Unfortunately, this will also be a showcase of what the Giants still are not.






Statistical Comparisons begin after Week 1

Giants (0-0)
Score Opp.
Week 1 @PHI
Week 2 WAS
Week 3 CLE
Week 4 @GB
Week 5 @DAL
Week 6 bye
Week 7 DET
Week 8 @MIN
Week 9 CHI
Week 10 @ARI
Week 11 ATL
Week 12 PHI
Week 13 @WAS
Week 14 @BAL
Week 15 PIT
Week 16 @CIN
Week 17 DAL
Eagles (0-0)
Score Opp.
Week 1 NYG
Week 2 MIN
Week 3 @DET
Week 4 @CHI
Week 5 bye
Week 6 CAR
Week 7 @CLE
Week 8 BAL
Week 9 @PIT
Week 10 @DAL
Week 11 WAS
Week 12 @NYG
Week 13 GB
Week 14 @WAS
Week 15 DAL
Week 16 @STL
Week 17 CIN

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points