Although the cities of New York and Philadelphia will no doubt be focusing on the World Series matchup of the Yankees and Phillies this weekend, it will be difficult for fans not to turn their attention to the meeting between the Giants and Eagles.
Making the game between the NFC East rivals all the more enticing is the fact that the Eagles ruined the Giants’ hopes of repeating as Super Bowl champions last season.
A busy Sunday of sports in Philadelphia starts at Lincoln Financial Field, where the Eagles look to hand the suddenly vulnerable Giants a third straight loss and gain at least a share of first place in the division.
Before the Yankees and Phillies play Game 4 of the World Series at Citizens Bank Park, one of the NFL’s fiercest rivalries will continue across the street.
“We love it, we love it,” Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb(notes) said. “Everyone can tune into our game first and go to the bathroom and refresh your popcorn and drinks and then go out and watch the excellent baseball game.”
The Giants (5-2) lead Philadelphia (4-2) and Dallas in the division, with the Eagles set to host the Cowboys next weekend.
“It is a divisional game; we have a half-a-game lead on the Philadelphia Eagles,” coach Tom Coughlin said. “The game is in Philadelphia. I don’t know that it gets any more exciting.”
New York will likely have the bitter end to last season on its mind. The Giants went 12-4 to earn the No. 1 seed in the NFC but fell 23-11 to the Eagles in a divisional playoff game - one of two home losses to Philadelphia that season.
“We have a big game vs. Philly at Philly, it’s a huge game,” Giants quarterback Eli Manning(notes) said. “We know it’s going to be a tough battle, but we have to go out there, play well and eliminate the mistakes.”
Manning, 4-0 as a starter in the regular season at Philadelphia, knows he has to cut down on his miscues after the last two games. He had 10 touchdowns and two interceptions during the Giants’ 5-0 start but threw for two scores and four interceptions in the losses.
Manning was 19 of 37 for 243 yards with one touchdown and three INTs in last Sunday’s 24-17 home loss to Arizona. He was sacked three times, matching his total in that category over the first six games.
McNabb, meanwhile, proved to be very difficult to bring down for the Giants last season. New York sacked him 15 times in two wins during its Super Bowl season two years ago, but didn’t register any last season in three games with Osi Umenyiora(notes) missing the year due to knee surgery.
Umenyiora set a Giants record with six sacks of McNabb in a 16-3 win Oct. 5, 2007, as he took advantage of then-rookie left tackle Winston Justice(notes). Now the Eagles’ right tackle, Justice will go up against Umenyiora or Pro Bowl defensive end Justin Tuck(notes) - the cornerstones of New York’s top-ranked defense.
“We all know what type of player Osi is - he is an All-Pro guy; one that people focus in on,” McNabb said. “So I don’t think it is a change.
“The defense that they had - you always start off by saying Michael Strahan(notes) and Osi. Now you say Osi and Tuck. So there are two guys that you truly focus in on no matter if they are on the right side or left side. You just always know where they are.”
The Eagles bounced back from a 13-9 loss at lowly Oakland two weeks ago with a 27-17 road win over Washington on Monday night. DeSean Jackson(notes) scored on a 67-yard run and a 57-yard reception in the first half as Philadelphia built a 20-point lead and cruised.
“We’ll see what kind of improvement he makes,” coach Andy Reid said Wednesday. “He is doing the tests that the guys do throughout the week here. We’ll see how he does by the time we get to game time.”
New York receiver Steve Smith is second in the league with 45 catches and third with 594 yards through the air, but has failed to reach the end zone in his last three games. Rookie receiver Hakeem Nicks(notes), though, had 194 yards in the last two games and scored a TD in each of the last four contests.
Manning believes the Giants should be able to correct their problems.
“We are 5-2, we’re not in a bad spot,” he said. “We are going to get back to playing better football.”