The Philadelphia Eagles don’t have much room for error now, and may be without Michael Vick this weekend.
The New York Giants have already knocked Vick out once this season. Now they can land a knockout blow to their archrivals’ season.
The Eagles visit the NFC East-leading Giants on Sunday night, with Philadelphia full of question marks as it tries to avoid dropping four games out of the division lead.
Most sports books monitored by the SportsOptions odds product have installed the Giants as four-point home favorites, with the total set at 46 1/2.
Philadelphia (3-6) continued its dismal season with a 21-17 home loss last Sunday to lowly Arizona. Vick did not practice Wednesday after suffering two broken lower ribs on the game’s second play and finishing with a 32.5 passer rating – his worst with the Eagles.
Coach Andy Reid has not ruled out Vick, who may not be relishing the chance to face a New York defense with a league-high 30 sacks. Vince Young and Mike Kafka shared reps at practice.
“He’s still sore,” Reid said. “These next few days will tell, so we’ll see.”
After Vick had career highs of 21 passing touchdowns and nine on the ground last season and the Eagles added numerous big-name acquisitions, Philadelphia was considered a clear favorite to repeat as NFC East champions.
Instead the Eagles have been abysmal in the clutch, losing five games they led in the fourth quarter.
That included a 29-16 home defeat to New York (6-3) on Sept. 25 that snapped Philadelphia’s six-game win streak in the series. Kafka was forced to finish the contest after Vick exited with a broken right hand.
“I think it just proved that, first of all, we can go on the road and win when nobody gave us a chance to win and it started the idea of us finishing and playing well in the fourth quarter,” coach Tom Coughlin said.
Reid is dealing with other issues besides Vick. The coach said DeSean Jackson will return after the receiver was deactivated last Sunday because he missed a meeting.
“As a professional and as a man, you just really have to handle things,” said Jackson, who held out for 11 days in training camp over his contract. “I can admit to some things that I’ve done, that I need to better, which I think everybody at a period of time in their life figures out what it is.”
The Eagles are 4-0 at New York since Jackson joined the team. He has scored on punt returns in each of their last two visits, including last season’s 65-yard TD on the final play of Philadelphia’s thrilling 38-31 win as the Giants blew a three-touchdown lead over the final 7:28.
New York is finishing stronger this season behind Eli Manning, who owns the league’s second-best fourth-quarter rating at 116.5. Manning is fifth in the league in TD passes (17) and quarterback rating (97.0) and has turned in consecutive four-touchdown efforts against Philadelphia.
His attempt to lead the Giants to another comeback win fell short last Sunday, however, as his fourth-down pass deep in San Francisco territory was batted down in the final minute of a 27-20 defeat. Manning rallied New York from fourth-quarter deficits the previous two weeks.
“You don’t want to rely on having to win the game in the fourth quarter and having to have drives at the end,” Manning said. “It is a great quality that we have and I think our confidence is where it needs to be if we get in those situations, but we have to get off to faster starts and take advantage of our opportunities early in the game.”
New York is dealing with a minor distraction after gunshots erupted at the trendy Juliet Supper Club in Manhattan early Tuesday morning when wide receiver Victor Cruz was celebrating his 25th birthday with a group of Giants. The incident didn’t sit well with Coughlin, who saw his team’s 2008 season go south when Plaxico Burress shot himself late in the season in a nightclub.
“I don’t know what good happens at 2:30 or 3 in the morning,” Coughlin said. “I’ve never been able to figure that one out.”
The Giants will seek to slow down LeSean McCoy, who has scored from scrimmage in nine straight games and leads the NFL with 12 total TDs. McCoy’s 906 rushing yards are the most in the NFC, and he gained 128 in the last meeting with New York.
It’s unclear if New York running back Ahmad Bradshaw will miss a third straight game with a broken bone in his right foot. Brandon Jacobs has started in his place for the Giants, whose rushing attack is the NFC’s second-worst at 89.2 yards per game.