So far this postseason has been every bit as unpredictable as the regular season was. The Chargers beat the Colts. The Ravens beat the Titans. And the Cardinals beat the Panthers. Both Baltimore and Arizona are in the final four and really no one expected either of these teams to be there. But as for the Giants and Eagles…
This game has gotten the most attention and rightfully so of any of the four games this weekend. No other game features two divisional rivals in a divisional playoff game and no other game features two teams with so much history and so much knowledge of each other. Sure, the Titans/Ravens is a battle and the Steelers/Chargers will draw a nice rating, but this is truly the most highly anticipated and best possible matchup of the weekend.
The New York Giants have had three weeks off. Their last real game was against the Carolina Panthers for the No. 1 seed and they were victorious. Tomorrow will be 21 days since that game and since then the Giants had a walkthrough against the Vikings, then a bye week, and then a practice week to prepare for the Eagles.
The injuries have passed and the Giants are as healthy as they have been since they were all home cooking hotdogs and hamburgers on the 4th of July. But their opponent has been in playoff mode for nearly half the season, playing with their 2008 season lives every weekend, and they are black and blue, beat up, and hurting. As this point in the season the Giants are well-rested and ready to do business and while the Eagles are ready to do business they are nowhere near as healthy as the Giants.
If you have turned on you TV or picked up a newspaper or hung around the water cooler at work, then you probably know about the Eagles’ recent success. The general consensus of the media has built the Eagles up to be a juggernaut, so “hot” that Dunkin’ Donuts has thought about featuring them as an alternative to their morning beverages. And maybe beating the Vikings and destroying the Cowboys makes you “hot” and gives you momentum, but then what does tying the Bengals and losing to the Redskins in must-win games do? Because that is exactly what this team is capable of.
Are the Eagles a good team? Yes, at times. But they can also play to the level of teams whose wins totals can be counted on one hand. Sure, they have big playmakers by the names of Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook and DeShaun Jackson, but there is another team in the NFC East with big time playmakers who is sitting home while their front office decides whether or not to blow their franchise up and start from scratch. Dallas cough cough.
And when you look at the New York Giants you see the definition of a “team.” There are no flashy players, there are no media hungry primadonnas, and there are no loudmouth, celebrating showoffs. And aside from one player who took the liberty to end his season by carrying a firearm in the city where carrying a firearm is the ultimate “don’t,” the Giants are as close to what a “team” could be in the NFL.
There is no doubt that the last team the Giants wanted to face this weekend was the Eagles, but there is nothing they can do about that now and maybe it’s better that they are facing them. Who knows?
But what this game has turned into is a breakdown of the Eagles from Week 17 to present day and their win over the Giants. The world decided to put blinders on when it comes to the Eagles other 14 games from this season in which they went 7-6-1. When you take away their victory against the Giants, their blowout of the Cowboys, and their playoff win over the Vikings, what you have left is a pretty average football team. Kind of like taking apart Pamela Anderson in her prime. If you remove every plastic surgery enhanced piece of her, what you are left with is just an average looking chick.
Don’t get me wrong the Eagles are one of the better teams in the NFL when they play how they are supposed to play on paper. but when things go wrong for Philly, things go really wrong. And once the wheels come off of Andy Reid’s bus, well then the doors come off, the engine fails, the transmission drops, gas begins leaking, and so on.
Hopefully Tom Coughlin will come to his senses and have Domenik Hixon and only Domenik Hixon controlling the kick and punt returns. And hopefully he utilizes John Carney for field goals only and Lawrence Tynes for kickoffs because the Giants can’t afford to give away the field position they have been giving away recently.
Brandon Jacobs is going to have to be a horse on Sunday and Eli Manning is going to have to manage the game in poor weather and control the clock to minimize the time of possession for the Eagles. If Eli can stay away from turning it over and if the receiving team of Hixon, Amani Toomer, and Steve Smith can hold onto the ball this time against Philly, then the Giants should have no problem putting up points on the Eagles suspect defense.
You can take all the stats about No. 1s vs No. 6s and records and regular season stats and forget about them. Because tomorrow the game will come down to who wants it more and who will commit the least amount of turnovers. One second of the game could be what ends one of theses two team’s season on Sunday.
Expect a close game. A lot of running the ball and a lot of field goals. And in the end, expect the Giants to be hosting the Cardinals next Sunday at Giants Stadium.
Giants 27, Eagles 20