No matter what people say, Philly is a football town by nature. It is the focal point of attention on the local radio stations all year round, in most cases. The Phillies' run in September and October provided an exception to the rule, up to and including last Sunday's game against the Seahawks.
What better way to refocus on the Birds than to face the hated New York Giants at the Linc in a crucial divisional game.
This season for the Eagles exemplifies what today's NFL has become as a whole. One week, you're a Super Bowl contender, the next week you suck. You get feelings of uncertainty on a daily basis, whether from reflecting on the previous game or feeling anxious about the upcoming game—or even checking the dreaded injury report.
The Eagles stand at 5-3. Simply put, they are on pace to finish 10-6, usually a solid record which will grant you a "X" next to your team's name in the standings, indicating you have clinched a playoff spot. But anyone who has followed the NFC East this year knows that 10-6 won't win the division and might not get you a wild-card spot.
Any loss in the NFL hurts, but the Eagles' three losses this year have killed them. I'm not saying the Eagles can't go on a run; hell, they used to do it every November and December, when you started to have your doubts. But they lost two crucial divisional games which were very winnable games, and for the second year in a row, the Bears dealt them a crushing loss at the end of a game they should have won.
Simply put, the Eagles are out of mulligans. If they lose to the Giants, they will be three games behind them in the division. They will also have three losses in the division and four losses in the conference, meaning every other playoff-caliber team will have the edge on them in tiebreakers. That means they would basically have to go 11-5 to have a shot at the wild card, meaning a 6-1 finish. I just don't see it happening.
I know there are still scenarios where 10-6 will cut it—sure, a few teams could implode. But that's not something to bank on for a team Jeffrey Lurie described at the beginning of the year as, "Putting the pedal to the metal."
If that is the case, you have to beat the Giants and show that you are a threat to win this division. You're at home, your best player (Brian Westbrook) always steps up against the Giants, McNabb looks close enough to himself to be capable of having a big game, and the D has been solid since the Washington game.
They are capable of greatness. As crappy as they have looked throughout the year, and it's been frequent, they have showed they can play like an elite team. The offense looked unstoppable against Dallas (whose D was healthy at the time). They jumped all over Washington in the first quarter (let's not talk about the rest of the game).
The defense looked like a top-three D against Pittsburgh, whose offensive line is weaker than years past, but the team as a whole is still considered one of the best in the league.
It is gut-check time for the Birds. The "must-win" label is tagged on games way too often, but I think it applies here. Either step up in front of the home crowd and show them you are a contender, or come up small and incite the "Fire Reid!" and "Put in Kolb!" chants.
Call the fans unfair, but you have had ample opportunities over the years. The Phillies just did it for us in their second year in the playoffs. Spirits are high in Philly right now. We will be fired up for this game. We will be loud and rowdy as hell every time Eli is under center. We want to get behind you and love you again. Give us a reason.