Aside from the No. 2 seed Carolina Panthers, the Philadelphia Eagles were surely the team Giants fan feared most on the NFC side of the playoff bracket. No other team has the same combination of playoff experience and talent. So the prospect of divisional round game with a familiar and dangerous division rival is bittersweet. There’s bitter resentment at getting the tougher draw, but, on the other hand, it's an intriguing match up that all Giants fans want to see.
This tit-for-tat Yin Yang dynamic filters through a lot of the matchups and storylines between the Eagles and Giants. Or at least, so sayeth this post. Here are five talking points for the Taoist football fan in you:
Donovan McNabb vs. Eli Manning: One one hand you have Eli doing his part to establish the Manning Monopoly on quarterbacking in the NFL. Another big game victory along with Peyton's MVP and Barack Obama might have to draft them for his cabinet. On the other side we have McNabb's Last Stand. Donovan's reputation has been on the downslope since his literally gut-wrenching Super Bowl appearance a few years ago. This might be his last non-Super Bowl game that could redeem his legacy. If he loses, it's lights out for him in Philadelphia where he’ll forever be remembered as a Patrick Ewing-type player.
Brian Westbrook vs. Brandon Jacobs: The perfect Yin Yang complement of two dominant players with two totally different styles. Westbrook takes a small package and impacts the game from anywhere on the field. While Jacobs is literally an "Earth" coming through the hole, but his physical stature outsizes his relevancy to the team overall.
Steve "Spags" Spagnuolo vs. Jim Johnson: There aren't enough letters in the alphabet to spell out the impact Spags has had on the Giants. He's a championship caliber defensive coordinator. But he is also apprentice to a Grand Master in Jim Johnson. If Spags' D has another strong showing he will be able to name his spot when the playoffs are over; and he will have earned that right by surpassing his master.
Tom Coughlin vs. Andy Reid: Until Coughlin earned his stripes last year, these two had similar coaching resumes: strong records, but lacking the big prize. Reid, like McNabb, can redeem his legacy here. Although the window doesn't close as rapidly for coaches, Andy will still have time.
No Big Play Wide Receiver vs. No Big Play Wide Receiver: Neither teams takes the field with a dominant receiver, but they come to that stasis from opposite sides. Plaxico Burress was a difference maker talent wise between these two teams, while the Eagles are used to their running back being their best receiver.
So does that make sense? No? Well, the Tao can't explain; like the Giants and Eagles, and other oppositional forces, it just is.