It's that time of the year in the NFL, as the Giants and Eagles battle once again for divisional dominance in December.
With Mike Vick dominating the headlines throughout the week, most of the talk is surrounding his MVP-like play on the field and his supposed born-again lifestyle off of it. In general, Philly's high-powered offense has garnered most of the attention because of standouts like deep threat DeSean Jackson and Brian Westbrook-clone LeSean McCoy.
Amid the media frenzy, it's easy to forget that the Giants are also involved in Sunday's battle for first place in the NFC East.
Even when New York is at the forefront of conversation regarding Sunday, it usually surrounds Eli Manning's league-high interception total (he has 19) or the absence of third-down specialist Steve Smith in the Giants' passing game.
Despite the pessimism that follows Giants offense, the defensive line has been recognized for its superb play in the two teams' previous battle (a 27-17 G-Men loss in Week 11). In that game, the Giants defense forced Vick into his worst game of the season, as he posted his lowest QB rating of the season (83) and was without a passing touchdown for just the second time this season.
While there are obvious matchups that have game-breaking potential for the victor, like the previously mentioned battle between Vick and Tuck, Osi, and Co., Tom Coughlin and Andy Reid know that Sunday is more of a chess match than a one-man show.
With Asante Samuel on the mend despite his questionable status coming into Sunday's game, the Eagles secondary will need the big-play ability he brings to the cornerback spot.
His seven picks in just nine games is an example of the ball-hawking mentality that Samuel contributes to an already savage defense.
While the ex-Patriot doesn't get to Manning like Darren Sharper does, Eli makes the type of questionable throws that a defender like Samuel preys upon.
The cat-and-mouse game between these two veterans should warrant watching; especially on third down where the Giants' have had little success this season and Asante has racked up 18 of his 42 career interceptions.
The return of Hakeem Nicks is an intriguing subplot to the conflict because his ability to make plays down the field, which doesn't play into Samuel's strengths.
If the Giants can establish some sort of running game as well, they can disrupt Philly's secondary with a mix of play-action passes, whether it's using Nicks deep or getting heavyweight tight end Kevin Boss involved early on.
Finally at full health, David Diehl is back just in time to face nemesis Trent Cole in Sunday's matchup.
In 11 games against the Giants, Cole has sacked Eli Manning seven times, with most of them coming from his usual right end spot.
Diehl has done an admirably job in his tenure at the left tackle position, especially when you consider you was a fifth-round pick in 2003, but if he has one glaring weakness it's his propensity to give up sacks against pure speed-rushers.
While the Illinois product has his fair share of great moments against top pass rushers, like blanking Mario Williams and DeMarcus Ware this year, Diehl's history against Cole, and Dwight Freeney's clinic against him in Week 3, highlight his struggles against quickness off the edge.
Cole's talents rushing the passer make him someone that has to be gameplanned against, but he does show signs of inconsistency, disappearing for stretches of games.
For Eli Manning to stay upright, Diehl needs to win this matchup up handily on Sunday end of story.
The attention given to Desean Jackson recently for his exploits as a downfield threat are well-deserved, but the presence of Jeremy Maclin on the opposite side of the field is one of the main reasons Jackson can produce exorbitant numbers.
In the two team's previous meeting, Maclin stole the limelight from Jackson, torching the Giants secondary for nine catches and 120 yards.
Both receivers have complemented each other well this year, and six of the Eagles victories have seen a touchown scored by at least one of them; but if DeSean and Maclin do share the same off-games it spells trouble for Philly's chances of success.
In all four of the Eagles losses, neither of the two wideouts has topped 50 yards through the air and they have combined for only two touchdowns.
The rise of Terrell Thomas, who is tied with DeAngelo Hall for the an NFL-best eight takeaways among defensive backs, and the overall solid tackling of the Giants secondary should be an asset in limiting Philadelphia's high-octane passing game.
Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips have made Giants fans forget about the Michael Johnson era by limiting the number of big plays down the field, but they stil need to play at their usual All-Pro levels to ensure a lockdown defensive day.
While Goff won't be the only Giants defender lined up on LeSean McCoy on Sunday, the onus falls on the first-year starter to keep the dynamic back at bay.
With McCoy's 61-yard scamper that sealed Philly's victory in their first encounter still ingrained in Giants fans memories, limiting his impact would go a long way in reducing the effectiveness of Michael Vick because of his talents in both Philadelphia's passing and ground game.
Though Andy Reid isn't particularly fond of running the ball, McCoy's league-leading 5.3 yards-per carry have forced his hand this season. The Pitt alum's role in the passing game may be just as important as his ability running the ball, especially when he consider he has 70 catches on the year, 13 more than the next leading receiver on the team.
The Giants' run defense has turned in a few poor performances sporadically throughout the season, but they still rank among the league's best in stopping the run. The health of Michael Boley remains a factor, but they usually do a good job containing the tailbacks once they leave the backfield.
Last time McCoy had only 29 yards on five catches, and a repeat performance would hamper the offensive gameplan that Mike Vick is looking to carry out.
Maybe the game's most important battle, Vick's performance will dictate what the Eagles accomplish on offense.
The Giants have already exposed Vick to be human once this year, but it's hard to expect another mediocre game from the Eagles QB.
Though he is likely to play, the injury to Winston Justice doesn't bode well for Vick considering his history against Osi Umenyiora.
On the other side of the line, Justin Tuck would love a repeat of his three-sack showing from their last meeting, especially given Vick's recent decline in play when put under pressure.
Since his feet will always be an issue, Perry Fewell will look to get a good push up the middle and hope that both Tuck and Osi can keep Vick in the confines of the pocket.
Sacks are always nice to have, but just the constant stream of defensive players in Vick's face all day would limit his ability to throw downfield. The Giants defense prides themselves on dominating the line of scrimmage and that battle needs to be won on Sunday in order for the Giants to grab a win and wrap up the NFC East title.