SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Eagles-Giants

I'm going on record and questioning why many pundits are dismissing the New York Giants on the eve of their playoff game against the Eagles in Philadelphia. They forget that

a) 8-8 teams have fared well in recent years in the playoffs;

b) road teams have fared well in recent years in the playoffs in the first round;

c) this is a real rivalry and a revenge game for the Giants; and

d) the Giants have a lot of talent.

They also forget these facts about the Eagles:

a) they are playing with a QB whom most of the league thought belonged on the trash heap before the season and who failed in Cleveland and Detroit before finding the Fountain of Youth in Philadelphia 5 weeks ago; and

b) they are the same team that couldn't run the ball or stop the run as recently as a month and a half ago.

Naturally, I'm overlooking (intentionally) the stark contrast between the dysfunctional aspects of the Giants (Plaxico, Shockey, injuries on defense, Eli's gaze, Coach Coughlin's loss of the team, T Bob Whitfield's loss of his temper) versus the unity that the Eagles have been showing (the road graders on the OL have been rejuvenated, Garcia has energized the team, defensive coordinator Jim Johnson has helped create a run defense that works, Brian Dawkins has been playing Pro-Bowl caliber football in the past 6 weeks, etc.).

Still, this is a rivalry game, the Giants have talent, there's a new person calling the plays for the visitors and Eli can rally a team. And let's not forget Tiki Barber, an amazing player who doesn't want to retire, at least just yet.

Many have called it a 10-point plus win for the Eagles. I think the game will be much closer than that, and I think it's anybody's ball game.

I hope I'm wrong, naturally, and I hope that the pundits are right. But when you have an intra-NFC East (or intra-divisional) playoff game, it can become a "no holds barred" type of contest that will go to the last man standing. That fact should scare any Eagle and Eagles' coach who thinks that the game should be a repeat of what happened a few weeks ago at the Meadowlands.

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