It is one of the deepest rivalries in football, a game that, no matter the record of the two teams coming in can nonetheless go either way. On Sunday, the New York Giants will host the Philadelphia Eagles, the team that their fans might hate more than anyone else in the league.
And don’t think that the players and coaches on both sides of these NFC East teams don’t know that it is a rivalry. They know it and they feel it.
The proximity between New York and Philadelphia certainly plays a part in the emotions behind the game, allowing fans to easily travel between the two stadiums and making for hostile environments. There is also the tradition in other sports playing a factor, with the basketball, hockey and baseball teams also seeming to have a healthy despising of each other. Philly and the Big Apple just don’t seem to mix well on the field or in the stands
Now with the Giants and Eagles at the midway point of the season, locked in what looks like might well be a Wild Card battle in a few weeks’ time, this rivalry means even more. It is a different game than all the others, says Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz.
“Very different. Just obviously being a division game, so we understand the level of execution that needs to go along with that, but against Philadelphia it is always going to be physical. It is always going to be a game where you are going to leave that football field being exhausted mentally, physically, emotionally, you are just going to be spent,” Cruz said on Wednesday. “But, you just want to make sure that when that clock strikes zero that you are on the winning end and you have more points than they do, but this rivalry and this game is one that always takes it all out of you.”
All-time against the Giants, the Eagles have a losing record at 80-84-2. But in recent years, the narrative has been flipped as the Giants have been owned by the Eagles.
They’ve been swept in the season series each of the past two years and have lost five of their last six games to Philadelphia. That would not be good.
And in a year where the Giants and Eagles both seem to have legitimate playoff aspirations, a win on Sunday against Philadelphia would have double meaning for ‘Big Blue.’
“It has been a great matchup, a great rivalry. There have been some great games, even when I was here before with Coach Reid, we have had some great games with the Giants and of course when I played here back in ’99, it always seems to be a great matchup,” Eagles first-year head coach Doug Pederson said. “I don’t know. For whatever reason we have either played well or they have played well. I think it comes down to whoever protects the football the best in these games, eliminates the penalties and the mistakes and you capitalize on that and whoever can do that in these division type games obviously has the advantage and the opportunity to win.”