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The Giants Battle Their Demons This Weekend

Another chance to beat the Eagles

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    One last look at every Giants fan's nightmare fuel.

    The Giants insist that they aren't haunted by the Eagles.

    Every single player on the team says that memories of DeSean Jackson sprinting to the end zone and knocking them out of the playoffs last year aren't dancing in their heads every time they close their eyes.

    Over and over, they say that they aren't approaching this weekend's game in Philly any differently than they approach every other game on their schedule. 

    That should sound familiar. It is exactly what they said before the Jackson game, before the first meeting with the Eagles last year, the two meetings in 2009 and the playoff loss that brought a once-promising 2008 season to a crushing end.

    At some point you have to wonder if the Giants doth protest too much because it certainly seems like the Eagles have something over them that can't be broken.

    The reasons are different in every case, but the result remains the same.

    Every time the Eagles are on the other side of the field, the Giants borrow a page from Plaxico Burress' playbook and shoot themselves directly in the foot.

    Six straight games, all of them essential to the Giants' hopes of winning a Super Bowl, have gone in the Eagles' direction. 

    The Giants need to break that spell. There isn't much about this week's game that doesn't set up well for them to do that.

    The Eagles defense struggles to stop the run and the Giants have to attack that weakness with Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs until the Eagles prove that they can stand up to a sustained ground assault.

    Leaving Eli Manning and his ever-shrinking band of targets to do battle with the Eagles blitz and secondary is asking for disaster, no matter how much the Giants like to claim Eli is capable of doing everything on a football field.

    It looks like Michael Vick is going to play despite suffering a concussion in Atlanta last week, so the Giants defense has to turn up the heat, attack an iffy Eagles offensive line and hit Vick as often as possible.

    If they can't do it, there's not much chance that their secondary will stop Jackson and Jeremy Maclin from making big plays down the field.

    That's easier said than done, thanks to Vick's legs and LeSean McCoy's ability to carry a heavy workload on the ground, but it is what the Giants have to do on Sunday. And, unlike that fateful day last season, they have to keep doing it until the final whistle because there isn't a player in the NFL more able to pull rabbits out of his hat than Vick.

    The matchup really doesn't look as bad as you might imagine for the Giants, but therein lies the rub. The Giants always look strong on paper against the Eagles, but they always find a way to hand the game away to their hated rivals.

    They can say all they want that there's no mental game being played that causes these meltdowns, but until they actually avoid them it will be easier to believe that the Mets are on the brink of a World Series title. It's time for the Giants to stop telling us they aren't intimidated by the Eagles and start showing it.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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