Six Keys for an Eagles Fan to Look for During Christmas Eve NFL Games

Of course by now, every Philadelphia Eagles fan knows the scenario: If the Eagles can find a way to three-way tie in the NFC East, they'd bag a division record of 5-1, and win the division tiebreaker to clinch a playoff spot.

In order for that to happen, this week, the New York Jets have to beat the New York Giants, and the Eagles must handle their business against the Dallas Cowboys. Should the Jets lose the early game, the Cowboys game will mean nothing for the Birds.

So here are six things that will need to happen in order for today to go the Eagles' way.



If there's a place the Jets are vulnerable, it's in their run defense, as they are 16th in the league in rushing yards allowed and 28th in the league in rushing TDs allowed. The Giants can def take advantage of that, and should.

The Giants, however, are 22nd in the league in giving up interceptions, against the Jets being 9th in the league at taking away the air attack via interceptions. Eli Manning may be pressed against the potentially smothering defense.

Mark Sanchez and Santonio Holmes

Holmes thinks his team is in for a big day through the air. He says the Giants' defensive backs "are poor tackling guys," and cornerback Corey Webster should be "ready to bring his 'A' game."

Of course, though, Holmes can be a character.

He has a point, however. The Giants have lost five of their last six and including the 23-10 home loss to last-place Washington last weekend. The defense has allowed an average of 432.2 yards (293.8 passing) in that losing stretch. The whole unit ranks 29th against the pass this season, allowing 257.5 yards per game.

The Jets aren't the most dangerous team through the air, but if they can take advantage of the Giants' ailing secondary, there will be much good to come out of it. Sanchez needs to connect with his receivers and get into a rhythm.

Run the ball

If the Jets can disrupt the Giants offense, it will be important for them to try to control the clock; or time of possession. The Giants' rushing defense is mediocre, and whether it's through the air, or on the ground, the Jets should be able to seize an advantage somewhere.

Another thing that adds to these keys are the Giants few injuries. They will be without defensive end Osi Umenyiora , tight end Jake Ballard and linebacker Mark Herzlich due to injuries, and wide receiver Mario Manningham is listed as doubtful, as well.


LeSean McCoy

This, right here, is a given. McCoy has scored eight of his franchise single-season record 20 TDs in the past four games. Two of those TDs were on the Cowboys when he ran for his career-high 185 yards in the week 8, 45-19 thrashing of the Cowboys.

His role in today's game will be equally as important. I don't think this will be a romp like the previous contest, but I think the Eagles can take advantage of the intimidating presence they've left on the Cowboys in October--particularly with the rushing attack.

Protect Michael Vick

Seems like we're saying this every week. If the Eagles can buy their QB some time, they can get to the otherwise mediocre defensivebacks in Dallas. Brent Celek had a career-high 156 yards and one touchdown during the first matchup in Philly.

Vick threw for 279 yards (21-28) and 2 touchdowns, while rushing for 50 yards himself, adding to the Eagles overbearing 239 total rushing yards.

When Mike Vick is slinging the ball, the Eagles' offense is unstoppable--as Dallas learned on October 30.

Pressure Tony Romo

The same is true of Romo. When he's on fire, the Cowboys are hard to stop.

Romo has completed 69.9 percent of his passes for 869 yards with eight touchdowns, no interceptions and a 121.4 passer rating over the last three games.

Since his season-low 66.7 passer rating, 203 yard, 18-of-35 performance against the Eagles, Romo has thrown 18 touchdown passes and just two interceptions.

The Eagles lead the league in sacks--that's key. Get in there and force Romo to be Romo and make some silly tosses against the talented corners of the Eagles.

If those six things go well today, the Eagles will have completed part one of their, seemingly, improbable task--earning a playoff berth.

Vincent Heck is a life-long resident of the Philadelphia area, and a featured 'Fan View' blogger on Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter: @HeckPhilly

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