By way of previewing this weekend's New York Giants-Philadelphia Eagles playoff game, the marvelous 'JasonB' from Bleeding Green Nation and I have begun a series of 'conversations.' via e-mail.
When we start them we aren't sure where they are going, only that they involve topics of interest surrounding this weekend's highly-anticipated matchup. When we finish each conversation -- and right now we don't know how many we will have -- we will publish the full results for your enjoyment.
We obviously come at these conversations with different viewpoints, but we are doing this in a civil, friendly manner. As always, I hope you will do the same when you comment on our opinions, here and at BGN.
So, let's get started. Below is my first completed conversation with Jason. He started this one. I hope you enjoy it.
Bleeding Green: Last year when Dallas drew the Giants in the divisional round, I said it was the worst possible matchup the home team could hope for. I think the same thing about the Giants this year. Not because I Eagles are more talented, or not for any specific on the field matchups... but for the fact that it's a division game. The Eagles are probably the only opponent left in the playoffs where all the things that should be advantages for the Giants won't be. Previous record, week off, even homefield we know doesn't mean a whole lot in an NFC East matchup(as evidenced by both teams beating the other away this year). Of course, this means the Eagles have no advantages either ... I know you guys aren't "afraid" of the Eagles, but would you agree that all the advantages a home team usually would enjoy in this round mean a little less when it's a division opponent?
Big Blue View: Well, this is the most difficult matchup the Giants could have ended up with in this round of the playoffs, I will concede that much. Part of that is simply because these teams know each other so well. There is no mystery, and no fear on either side. Home field means more, I think, when you are taking a team out of conditions it is used to playing in -- West Coast to East Coast, dome team to bad weather, etc.
To me, the Giants biggest advantage was earning the bye week. I believe they were beat up and just generally gassed at the end of the season, and that the rest will be a huge help.
Bleeding Green: I suppose that answers another question I had about the bye. Last year you guys didn't have the bye and in fact you didn't even rest your starters in the final game even though you had already clinched. Obviously that philosophy worked last year ...
This year is the total opposite. The starters spent most of the final game on the bench and you've got a bye week ... Obviously that's good for injured players, but do you think it could have any negative affect? Can this team turn it on after basically 2 weeks off?
Big Blue View: Well, every season is difficult (note here that I should have said 'different'). To be honest, I would have been very worried about the Giants if they had had to play last week. Brandon Jacobs has not practiced in a couple of weeks. Defensive tackles Fred Robbins and Barry Cofield finished the season beat up. Justin Tuck was beat up and worn out. Wide receiver Domenik Hixon was playing, but not practicing at the end. Kevin Boss and Aaron Ross were hurting. The Giants, basically, were not whole even though they played a great game against Carolina and won when they had to. You just never know what effect time out does to chemistry, execution, all that stuff. But, the Giants regular season bye came after Week 3, they played a brutal schedule and they definitely needed the week off to get healthy.