2008 went down as perhaps the most up and down season in Eagles History. Sure, they have started hot before and gone cold. But never have we seen such such unbalance. The 08 Birds never won more than 3 games in a row. They lost 2 in a row once and had a three game skid which included two losses and a tie. They scored less than 10 points twice, and more than 40 points three times. No one really knows what to expect. Something that those of us who don't quite believe can do however, is to hope. I believe in hope.
We turned the corner when McNabb came back from his benching and won three straight. Then a 3 point offensive showing to a couldn't-be-colder Redskins team? Then, of course, a 44-6 domination over a team so embodied by its singular personalities, the Dallas Cowboys.
After a sloppy first half with classic Andy Reid 3rd and 2 long passes leading to a few punts, the Eagles completely dominated the Vikings in the final 30 minutes, holding their running game to just 17 yards on 8 carries. The defense made the stops when it needed to make them.
On to the next contest. Those New York Football Giants. Defending Super Bowl Champions and current NFC Regular Season Champs. Who is the favorite? By all means the Giants. Who is going to win? The Philadelphia Eagles. What kind of ludicrous statement is that to make, you may be asking. Why would I pick the Eagles over the Giants at the Meadowlands? Besides the green that runs through my veins, there are quite a few reasons. I will lay them out for you here...
1. Playing at the Meadowlands. So far this season the two contests between these bitter rivals has been won by the visiting team. Eagles won in NY, Giants won in Philly. This is one theory that offers up an Eagles double-you, but not one that I would put too much stock into.
2. The Giants have lost 3 of their last 4 games. Albeit one took place in the week 17 resting of their starters in the second half. Make that a win and they are still only 2-2. Anyone watching Eli play the first half in the Giants week 17 loss to the Vikings could see that Manning was not his usual self. In the last four games of the season, Manning threw just 2 touchdowns and two picks, was sacked 12 times, and fumbled twice.
3. Try to think back to last year. This wasn't much of a story line at this moment in 2008 as the Giants snuck into the playoffs without too much noise. There was tremendous support from the Giants' fans to have their franchise quarterback traded and their moody coach fired. Fans wanted the Giants to lose even though they were in the playoffs. Does this sound familiar my fellow Philadelphians? For how long have we been dialing WIP's number and calling for McNabb's head? After how many called passing plays on 3rd and 1 have we wanted Andy Reid out of our beloved city? Hey, I'll admit it. I have never been shy to bash the Eagles - namely McNabb and Reid. Many are still not satisfied with our position now. Again, I am not. I always want a Super Bowl. But at the same time, I am realistic. Big Red and Five will be back next year, and it seems like they both give us the best chance to win.
So while those in New York were throwing Tom Coughlin under the proverbial bus, we have done the same to Reid. The Giants have made the "sneaking into the playoffs quietly and winning the Super Bowl" story quite old to everyone already. How many times have you heard the phrase, "this year's Giants?" And how many times have the Eagles been attributed to that phrase? Almost every time. We are in a great position heading into Sunday's game.
4. And last but not least, just as you thought I wouldn't mention it - Plaxico Burress. This man has been the definition of an Eagles Killer. Look at his career stats versus the Eagles (as a Giant, not a Steeler). 7 games, 32 receptions, 516 yards, 5 touchdowns. In last years playoffs, Eli Manning trusted Burress with 25% of his completions, more then 25% of his yards, and added a touchdown in the biggest game to take down the all-mighty Patriots in Super Bowl 42. Without Plax, the Giants went a mediocre 3-3 in their last 6 games. Before? 9-1. 2 of the three wins were legitimate, beating the number 2 seed Carolina Panthers in overtime and the opponent of the Panthers this Saturday - the Arizona Cardinals.
Without Plaxico, a receiver who has shredded the Eagles Secondary apart for the past 3 and a half seasons, the Giants become much less scary. Their offense now has to rely on Domenik Hixon as their number 1 wideout which puts more pressure on banged up monster running back Brandon Jacobs.
So I will ignore the obvious reasons why we may not win this game (Akers can't kick for squat against the G-Men, we never know when Reid will abandon the run, it IS a home game for the Giants, and the Giants are supposed to win)
Now let us take a look at the weather conditions for the game. It will be a high of 33 and a low of 21 with only a 10% chance of precipitation. The wind impact is one to take notice of, right now being listed as 13 miles per hour North/Northwest. Should make for an interesting day of passing and kicking.
My prediction for the Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Giants playoff game for a trip to the Conference Finals: Eagles 27 Giants 20
Do I believe? I don't know. But I can sure as hell hope.