Before the playoffs began, there were three potential opponents for the Giants in their first game next Sunday. Two of them seemed like easy pickings. They already beat the Cardinals on the road and the NFC West champs were 0-5 in the Eastern time zone this season. The Falcons feature a rookie quarterback and inexperienced roster that would likely be intimidated by a date with the defending champs in their building.
All they needed was for the Vikings to win at home against the Eagles to ensure one of those matchups. Their wish went unfulfilled. The Eagles won 23-14 and the Giants will kick off their postseason with the most difficult of their potential opponents. The old cliche about throwing out the records when Team A and Team B meet holds very true this week.
The two NFC East teams have too much history for any butterflies to take root in Philadelphia stomachs. The Eagles won't have any trepidation walking into a building that they play in every season. They won't feel inferior to the guys with the Super Bowl rings because they smacked them around in a 20-14 win in early December.
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Right now, you are probably saying "But the Giants didn't have Brandon Jacobs in the second half last time, and if Domenik Hixon doesn't drop a touchdown, it's a different game." Both are true points, and none of the above should be taken as a prediction of doom for Big Blue. They were a better team throughout the season and have been rightfully installed as favorites by nearly a touchdown in early lines.
Neither of which will matter a whit to the Eagles. They know the Giants didn't get a sack in either of the team's games and that the Giants won 36-31 in Philly. They know that Brian Westbrook hit a couple of the big plays that bedeviled the Giants defense over the season's last month (and that we correctly predicted would factor largely into Sunday's game).
That home field advantage that seemed so huge when the Giants beat the Panthers in overtime suddenly seems a lot less significant now that the Eagles are standing on the opposite sideline.