When the Giants head to Philadelphia for Sunday's showdown, they'll obviously be the "B" New York team in Philadelphia that night. As everyone one knows, this years World Series between the Yankees and Phillies is generating a lot of attention and for good reason; It's the team with the most World Series appearances in the decade taking on the decades last chances for a back-to-back champion. It'll be hard not to consider the winner of this World Series the MLB team of the decade, just as it'll be hard not to consider Sunday afternoon's winner the front runner to win the NFC East.
Small beans compared to "Team of the Decade," but let's break this game down anyway.
For Giants and Eagles fans, this is the game of the year so far. Forget about the Saints or Cowboys, this is the one that matters.
Eli Manning has a 4-0 career record as a starter in Philadelphia, which bodes well for the Giants. In general since the 2007 playoff run, Eli and the Giants have played impressively on the road. The last time we saw Eli vs the Eagles was in the NFC Divisional Playoffs, where the Eagles secondary sent Eli back to 2006. Right now, Eli's offense is pretty explosive, with a slew of receivers that have proven they can make plays. Another positive for the Giants is that it looks like Mario Manning will indeed start this week; he'll need to hold onto the ball if the Giants want to win.
Before you start checking off the Giants to win, let's not forget that McNabb hasn't been sacked by the Giants since that 2007 run. If the Giants want to beat the Eagles, whose pass offense is much better now than it was in 2007, they're going to have to get to McNabb and force pressure on the Eagles passing game.
The absence of Brian Westbrook for the Eagles hurts, but there's a good chance that LeSean McCoy is a better option right now anyway. Westbrook has been so-so all season so far, and it was just last week that McCoy's fellow 2009 rookies Shonn Greene and Beanie Wells had their coming out parties. It's fair to predict that this will be McCoy's week.
The Giants run game needs to get itself back in gear. I hate to say the team is missing Derrick Ward, but they're definitely missing having that third option at running back; something the team had grown used to having. Though there's still a chance the Giants fish around and land that third back, it seems as though they're sticking to the "Thunder & Lightning" (Jacobs & Bradshaw, not Dayne and Barber) combination that helped them win Super Bowl XLII. The difference is that in 2009 not only are defenses prepared for it, Bradshaw and Jacobs have both racked up a lot of miles (not to mention Bradshaw has racked up some decent prison time).
As we previously mentioned, the defensive keys for both teams rely on getting to the quarterback. For the Eagles it's getting Eli to force the ball over through interceptions. The Eagles secondary is really good, and traditionally they have Eli's number; they'll need to dial it up if they plan on taking control of the NFC East this week,
For the Giants it's simple as well. In their memorable Super Bowl run, the Giants established themselves as the leagues premiere pass rush. Since then, the Giants have done nothing to diminish that reputation... outside of their three games against the Eagles that is. If the Giants want to win this one they're going to have to get to McNabb. It's not a suggestion, it's a demand.
Overall this game should be great, with all the drama, emotion, and intensity of the "other" sporting event going on in Philly on All Saints Day.