If the New York Giants want to climb back into the race for the NFC East, this weekend is their best shot. They host the Eagles on Sunday night. A win at least puts them in a tie with Philadelphia and a game back of the Cowboys. A win also gives them the tiebreaker over the Eagles for the time being (division record) to go with their tiebreaker over the Cowboys.
And if the Eagles want to take a step toward locking up the NFC East, they need to win, which would give them the tiebreaker over the Giants and at least a share of first place in the division with three games to play.
Fantasy Football owners want to win this week too, especially with the playoffs kicking in across most leagues. Both teams are close to having all of their skill-position players on the field, so there will be no shortage of implications stemming from this matchup. There's also no shortage of history between these bitter rivals.
Two players Fantasy owners are clamoring for advice over this week are Eagles rusher LeSean McCoy and receiver DeSean Jackson. Let's start with McCoy, who broke a 66-yard run for a touchdown to further ice the Eagles' win over the Giants back in Week 8. The Philly rookie has more or less assumed the primary rushing role even though Leonard Weaver has taken some work off his plate and veteran Brian Westbrook is preparing a return. He's got some hope for a big game as the Eagles have rushed for a touchdown (be it a running back, a quarterback or a receiver) in each of their last four against the Giants. Furthermore, Eagles running backs have totaled five touchdowns in the last five against the Giants. You'd have to go back to Week 4 of the 2007 season to find the last time the Eagles haven't run for a score against New York. This bodes well for McCoy -- the only concern with him is the drop off in touches he had last week against the Falcons.
Jackson is expected to play in his first game since suffering a concussion but he's been "lights out" against the Giants. In three games over his career against Big Blue he's scored twice, including a receiving touchdown on three catches for 78 yards earlier this year. Jackson has also scored and/or had 90 receiving yards in four of his last five games.
What makes Jackson particularly risky, and all of the Eagles' receivers and tight ends, is Donovan McNabb's history not necessarily against the Giants but at Giants Stadium: He's never thrown more than one touchdown pass against New York, either the Giants or the Jets! That's over his career (since 1999). He's never even had a 300-yard game there; he didn't get his first 200-yard game there until 2004. So while McNabb's body of work against the Giants is prolific, the majority of his stats have come in Philadelphia.
Which further explains why Brian Westbrook has played well over his history at Giants Stadium. And provides that extra glimmer of hope for McCoy on Sunday since McCoy is slated to be the rusher with the most touches in the game.
What about the Giants?
History would tell you not to bet on it. Jacobs has the better shot to produce totals based on his previous play against Philadelphia. In his last six overall he has just two 100-total-yard games and three touchdowns. And yes, that's not very good -- which should tell you just how bad Manning has been against the Eagles.
Manning has been McNabb-at-Giants-Stadium-esque, failing to throw more than one touchdown in five of his last six against Philadelphia. You'd have to go back to 2006 to find the last time Manning was consistently effective against the Birds. And just because we were curious, we checked out how Manning has done against the Eagles at Giants Stadium. Like McNabb, he's been roughed up -- his last multi-score game against the Eagles at home was in 2005. He has two touchdowns and five interceptions vs. Philadelphia since 2006.
Manning has been especially limited since Plaxico Burress left the Giants' active roster, totaling two touchdowns, four interceptions and 514 total passing yards in three games since Plax's incident. But it should also be mentioned here that Manning has yet to play against the Eagles with his full complement of receivers. When they met in Week 8, Mario Manningham was inactive. He'll play on Sunday, and it could be enough to cause some issues for Philadelphia.
A gaffe to go away from Gore?
Starting Frank Gore has been commonplace in Fantasy for a long time, but a lot of owners are nervous about using him in Week 14 against the Cardinals. Gore has averaged just over 2.0 yards per carry in his last two games and has been getting by on his receiving duties, which has included two touchdowns over his last two games. But the most dangerous issue is that Gore is averaging less than 11 carries per game over his last three. Taking on a Cardinals run defense that just made Adrian Peterson look like the other Adrian Peterson last week just adds to the concern.
But Gore has been a monster against the Cardinals, including in Week 1 of this season. In his last five he's totaled six touchdowns with just fewer than 600 total yards. That's strong. He's also scored in every home game this season with 90 total yards or more in all but his most recent outing against the Jaguars at Candlestick Park. Between all that he's done, and the fact that he's still been relatively productive in spite of his limited carries, Gore looks good for Week 14.
Cardinals not OK by the bay
Kurt Warner might like San Francisco as a city, but he must despise Candlestick Park.
Sticking with the stadium/quarterback relationship theme, Warner has played there a lot over the course of his career with the Cardinals and Rams, has never had a multi-touchdown game there while with the Cards. In fact, his last multi-touchdown game against the 49ers in San Francisco was in 2001 with 'The Greatest Show on Turf' Rams. In three starts as the Cardinals quarterback there he has one 300-yard game, two games less than 200 yards and two total touchdowns.
And so if Warner struggles there, do Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin slide at the Stick as well? Not as much -- each have three touchdowns at the Niners in their last five meetings, though neither has had a 100-yard game there since 2005.
Given how the 49ers defense has been playing of late, it's almost impossible to bench Warner, Fitzgerald or Boldin. But if they struggle this week, we'll all know that it's not the first time.
A different Bronco for the Colts to tame
Thinking about sitting Reggie Wayne? Unsure of what to expect from Peyton Manning? Rest easy, folks -- history is on your side.
The Broncos, arguably Manning's favorite opponent, gallop into Lucas Oil Stadium in Week 14, and Manning should be grinning from ear to ear. In games where he hasn't left to rest up for the playoffs, Manning is 6-1 all-time against the Broncos. He's scored 15 touchdowns in his last four meaningful games against the Broncos -- seven to Reggie Wayne. That should ease some concerns about the Colts' passing offense, especially those about Pierre Garcon.
But there's a catch -- the Broncos were coached by Mike Shanahan for all of those games, which meant Manning more or less tore apart a secondary that wasn't very varied. Not only do the Broncos have a new defensive scheme and coordinator (Mike Nolan has been running a 3-4 scheme), but new Denver head coach Josh McDaniels has a completely different history with Manning as he was part of the Patriots' coaching staff that at one point shut him down before he returned the favor.
What makes the matchup all the more intriguing is that the Broncos will have Brian Dawkins playing safety. Dawkins has had a solid year and has been a big part of limiting opposing tight ends' stats -- not exactly good news for Dallas Clark. Excluding Pro Bowls, Dawkins has faced Manning three times over their careers: He owns no interceptions or forced fumbles, but he has taken away Manning's tight ends in every meeting, including holding Dallas Clark to a 4-yard catch in 2006. The Broncos have allowed three touchdowns to tight ends all season (two in one game against the Redskins), and Dawkins is a big reason why.
|History says these players will enjoy Week 14 ...|
|Joseph Addai||276 total yards, TD in two career games vs. Broncos|
|Drew Brees||Two-plus TDs, over 300 yards on avg. in last three vs. Falcons|
|Reggie Bush||TD in each of last three vs. Falcons|
|Jamaal Charles||67 total yards, TD in limited role vs. Buffalo in 2008|
|Lee Evans||Five catches, 110 yards at Chiefs in 2008|
|Ryan Grant||367 rush yards, four total TDs in last four vs. Bears|
|Greg Jennings||TD in each of last three vs. Bears (106 rec. yards vs. CHI in Week 1)|
|Marshawn Lynch||20 car., 79 yards, TD; 25 rec. yards at KC last season|
|Aaron Rodgers||Five TDs in three career starts vs. Bears|
|Pierre Thomas||Four TDs, 209 total yards in last two vs. Falcons (not a typo!)|
|Roddy White||340 yards, 2 TDs in last three vs. Saints|
|History tells a sad story for these players ...|
|Jay Cutler||Four INTs, one TD in Week 1 game vs. Packers|
|Donald Driver||14 rec., 162 yards, no TDs in last three vs. Chicago|
|Matt Forte||55 rush yards, 0 rec. yards in Week 1 at GB (two TDs vs. GB in '08)|
|Tim Hightower||Career 1.7 rush avg. vs. 49ers (121 yards receiving in Week 1)|
|Fred Jackson||Nine car., 56 yards; two catches 20 yards at KC last season|
|Devery Henderson||50 or fewer yards in four of last five vs. Falcons|
|Matt Ryan||Two touchdowns, four INTs in last two vs. Saints|
|Steve Smith (CAR)||150 yards, one TD in three career games vs. Belichick's Pats|
How do you think history will treat you? E-mail your Fantasy Football questions to DMFantasyFootball@cbs.com. Be sure to put Attn: History Lessons ing the subject field. Please include your full name, hometown and state and we'll get to as many as we can.