The Giants host the Eagles Sunday in what will surely be one of the most important games of the year. The winner will be on the fast track for a first-round bye while the loser will have an outside chance at missing the playoffs entirely.
And as is usually the case in December, the team that can best deal with injuries will likely end up prevailing.
The Eagles lost two defensive players for the remainder of the season this week, with middle linebacker Stewart Bradley dislocating his elbow and rookie defensive end Brandon Graham tearing the ACL in his right knee. The good news is that Bradley will likely be back in time for the playoffs; the bad news is that the Eagles will have an extra tough time making the playoffs without his services.
Philly made a big mistake this offseason by not bringing in a quality backup to man the middle of their defence. Bradley is great when he’s healthy, but he’s proven to be injury prone. Rookie Jamar Chaney, who was a seventh-round pick out of Mississippi State, will likely have to step in and do Bradley’s job.
In the only game Bradley missed this season, the Eagles gave up 32 points against Detroit. Lions running back Jahvid Best totaled 232 yards and three touchdowns in that game.
Meanwhile, the Giants will place wide receiver Steve Smith on injured reserve after Smith injured his knee Monday night against the Vikings. With Mario Manningham also less than 100 percent due to a hip injury, Eli Manning will once again have a depleted group of receivers for a game in which the Eagles’ secondary will get a boost from the probable return of cornerback Asante Samuel.
The Giants are 3-2 without Smith this year, but the three wins came against Jacksonville (bad secondary), Washington (bad everything) and Minnesota (you get the point). The losses came against the better-than-their record Cowboys and the very Eagles team they’re about to play.
Behind Smith and Manningham on the depth chart: Derek Hagan, Devin Thomas and Michael Clayton. And I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.