I'm not sure I've ever dreaded an Eagles-Giants game as much as this one.
It's not that I don't think the Eagles have a good chance to win. Despite some flaws (see my post here and Derek's more extensive discussion here), the defense looks better than it has in years. The offense, for the first time in a long time, is where the main trouble lies, and just one or two fewer turnovers would help out there immensely. I also think there's at least a reasonable chance that Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg will adjust their play calling. Running the ball only five times in the first half last week was inexcusable, no matter what they said after the fact.
I might turn out to be a sucker once more, hoping Andy can change his ways. But there is at least some precedent. Last year against the Giants, LeSean McCoy got an extra workload. He averaged only 17.4 rushes in his other starts, and 23.5 in his two against the cross-Jersey rivals. A heavy dose of Shady is surely the only way Michael Vick is going to stay upright. I shudder to think what Jason Pierre-Paul and his merry gang are going to do if they're keying off on pass plays every down, against this offensive line.
Still, even if the Eagles aren't firing on all cylinders, I'm under no delusions that the Super Bowl-winning Giants are some sort of powerhouse. The Eagles beat them last November with Vince Young at the controls. That has to count for something.
So, yes, I think they can win. But I'm dreading this game because I'm dreading a loss. The Eagles have played three games. Results have certainly been mixed. Two one-point wins, with similar problems but opposite post-game reactions. Then the Arizona disaster. Now they're entering division play, when everything really starts to matter, against a rival no one wants to lose to.
I know it's early in the season, but you can feel it in the air, can't you? If the Eagles lose on Sunday the city will turn on them. Vick and Reid will bear the brunt of it yet again. And that might be reasonable and justified. But it certainly won't be fun. On paper, there will be time to repair the damage. 2-2 is no impossible feat to climb to get to the playoffs. But will it matter?
The next four games after Sunday are at Pittsburgh, home against Detroit and Atlanta, then at New Orleans. None of those will be easy. The Eagles could easily lose two or three of those. But I think our perception of that stretch will be heavily influenced by what happens against the Giants this week. If the Eagles win their first NFC East game, a mixed bag going forward will be tolerated. If not...
If not, I'm not sure both Vick and Reid will still be around by week ten, when the Cowboys come back to town. And if they are, they might be wishing they weren't. It won't be fun any more.
So yeah. Am I overreacting? Probably. Will everyone else? Almost certainly. Hard to look forward to that.
Photo from Getty.