The only thing greater than the difference between the Giants of Thanksgiving and the Giants of last Sunday is the difference between the way people thought about Tiger Woods a month ago and the way they think about him now. The emotionless, apathetic team from Denver played with fire shooting out of their ears and deserved the victory as much as they deserved to lose 10 days earlier.
The Cowboys have a way of bringing that out of a team. We've already discussed defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan's use of a desperate battle waged by the Spartans against the Persians, but the team also got a spirited pregame pep talk by Tom Coughlin before throttling Dallas.
That stuff only works for so long, however, and it really works well against a team that's as prone to folding up on itself as the Cowboys. The Eagles are a different matter altogether.
Oh, the hate should still be there. Even if they weren't the closest geographical rival to the Giants, we're talking about a team that has won the last three meetings between the teams. The last two games, Donovan McNabb's playoff phone call and the rout in Philly earlier this year, were particularly embarrassing losses whose stench still lingers around the Giants like the aftermath of a particularly large Mexican meal.
All of that means that the Eagles aren't going to be scared when they roll into the Meadowlands on Sunday night, they aren't going to be scared of the spotlight and they aren't going to be beaten simply off of fiery speeches and extra effort. The Giants should still do all of those things, because they can't afford the slightest drop in their intensity, but they need to play better and do more physically to come out on top.
They need their defense to stop the run again, but with an added dose of lockdown in the passing game because the Eagles are bulging with weapons for McNabb. They need to protect Eli Manning against a defense that's going to come at him from every angle, and they'll need someone other than Steve Smith to have a big game catching his passes. They need more from Brandon Jacobs, more from Justin Tuck and, well, they need more all over the place.
The Giants didn't need everything to break right to beat the Cowboys. It doesn't look like that's the case this week, even if George Patton himself shows up to address the troops.