On Sunday the Eagles travel up the NJ turnpike to face their NFC East rival NY Giants in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs. Since this is no ordinary matchup, Ed over the Giants blog Big Blue View and I decided to do a little something special. Instead of the normal "5 questions" we normally do, Ed and I will be posting a conversation on a different topic each day this week.
One guy launches the opening salvo and we go back forth. Where it leads? Who knows...
Let your reactions to Ed's thoughts be known in the comments, and be sure to check out what Giants' fans feel about my claims over at Big Blue View.
Today, I led off with some thoughts on drawing and NFC East opponent in the playoffs after the jump..
Jason B - Last year when Dallas drew the Giants in the divisional round, I said it was the worst possible matchup the home team could hope for. I think the same thing about the Giants this year. Not because I think Eagles are more talented, or not for any specific on the field matchups... but for the fact that it's a division game. The Eagles are probably the only opponent left in the playoffs where all the things that should be advantages for the Giants won't be. Previous record, week off, even homefield we know doesn't mean a whole lot in an NFC East matchup(as evidenced by both teams beating the other away this year). Of course, this means the Eagles have no advantages either... I know you guys aren't "afraid" of the Eagles, but would you agree that all the advantages a home team usually would enjoy in this round mean a little less when it's a division opponent?
Big Blue View - Well, this is the most difficult matchup the Giants could have ended up with in this round of the playoffs, I will concede that much. Part of that is simply because these teams know each other so well. There is no mystery, and no fear on either side. Home field means more, I think, when you are taking a team out of conditions it is used to playing in -- West Coast to East Coast, dome team to bad weather, etc.
To me, the Giants biggest advantage was earning the bye week. I believe they were beat up and just generally gassed at the end of the season, and that the rest will be a huge help.
JasonB - I suppose that answers another question I had about the bye. Last year you guys didn't have the bye and in fact you didn't even rest your starters in the final game even though you had already clinched. Obviously that philosophy worked last year...
This year is the total opposite. The starters spent most of the final game on the bench and you've got a bye week... Obviously that's good for injured players, but do you think it could have any negative affect? Can this team turn it on after basically 2 weeks off?
Big Blue View - Well, every season is difficult. To be honest, I would have been very worried about the Giants if they had had to play last week. Brandon Jacobs has not practiced in a couple of weeks. Defensive tackles Fred Robbins and Barry Cofield finished the season beat up. Justin Tuck was beat up and worn out. Wide receiver Domenik Hixon was playing, but not practicing at the end. Kevin Boss and Aaron Ross were hurting. The Giants, basically, were not whole even though they played a great game against Carolina and won when they had to. You just never know what effect time out does to chemistry, execution, all that stuff. But, the Giants regular season bye came after Week 3, they played a brutal schedule and they definitely needed the week off to get healthy.