Nickel slot

1 There are more than enough reasons to highlight the name Steve Smith when preparing to play the Giants. The New York wide receiver is second in the NFC in receptions (79) and yards (979), and he was one of the few offensive players to challenge the Eagles when the two teams met last month. Smith could have an additional advantage against the Eagles' secondary tonight. The 5-foot-11 receiver often lines up in the slot opposite the fifth defensive back. That was Joselio Hanson until his four-week suspension for taking a banned substance. Most of the time, Macho Harris filled in while he was gone. Hanson is back, but Smith might try to exploit the matchup against either of them.

Run for McNabb

2 Donovan McNabb had his best performance against the Giants, statistically speaking, in the Eagles' 40-17 victory last month. He completed 17 of 23 passes, and four attempts were batted down at the line. Why was he so accurate? He had steady protection, but more important, the run game was established early courtesy of a 41-yard touchdown run from fullback Leonard Weaver. McNabb has won three straight and 10 of the last 14 as a starter against the Giants. His best days against New York always seemed to involve some semblance of a ground attack. Running back LeSean McCoy was held to 2 yards on six carries last week but may catch a break this week with Giants middle linebacker Antonio Pierce - typically an Eagle killer - out for the season.

Who's the Boss?

3 It's time to give credit where credit is due. The Eagles' defense has been harassed by tight ends all season, allowing 70 catches for 757 yards before it even had to face Hall of Fame-bound Tony Gonzalez last week at Atlanta. The final numbers may not show it, but Gonzalez wasn't much of a factor. He had 13 passes thrown his way but caught only eight. Three came during a useless last drive. Several factors were involved, but a lot had to do with linebacker Will Witherspoon's having one of his better pass-defending days. If Akeem Jordan is cleared to play weak-side linebacker tonight, however, Witherspoon moves back into the middle. Giants tight end Kevin Boss had three catches for 70 yards in the first meeting.

Peters vs. Umenyiora

4 Giants coach Tom Coughlin demoted all-pro defensive end Osi Umenyiora and defensive tackle Fred Robbins before last week's game against the Cowboys, and the move paid off. Both were still part of the defensive line rotation, however, and Umenyiora recovered a first-half fumble that led to a go-ahead touchdown. It will be interesting to see if Umenyiora still has to come off the bench. He has terrorized the Eagles, sacking their quarterbacks 111/2 times in the last seven games. Last month, Umenyiora beat Jason Peters for a sack and a forced fumble and forced the left tackle into a holding penalty. Peters also surrendered another sack and fumble when he failed to pick up a corner blitz. Peters still has ankle problems and suffered shoulder and head injuries last week.

David and Goliath

5 Napoleon had Waterloo. David Akers has Giants Stadium. The Eagles kicker's worst days have been at the Meadowlands. The stadium is marked for demolition after the season, and Akers may ask to work the wrecking ball. In 11 games at the Giants, he has converted only 11 of 20 field-goal attempts. If you subtract his 5-of-5 chip-shot accuracy, he is 6 of 15 from beyond 30 yards. Broken down, he's 2 of 7 between 30 and 39 yards, 2 of 6 between 40 and 49, and 2 of 2 from beyond 50 yards. Akers isn't the only kicker to be fooled by the tricky Meadowlands winds; it just seems that way to Eagles fans. The forecast isn't calling for blustery conditions, but it will be cold.

Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745 or jmclane@phillynews.com.