Giants/Eagles Super Brawl III res up an age-old rivalry (38438)

A little over 75 years ago, in October of 1933, Harlem was the host of the rst meeting between the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles. Played at the Polo Grounds, the Giants crushed their overmatched opponent by 56-0.

Professional football has dramatically changed since the early 1930s. What hasn’t is the fundamental physicality that is at the core of the sport. And it will be a prevailing factor in determining who will move on to the NFC championship game when the Eagles enter

the Meadowlands to meet the Giants (at 1 p.m.) in the second round of the playoffs.

The Eagles, winners of ve of their last six games, earned their way into a third matchup with the Giants this season by defeating the Minnesota Vikings on the road over the weekend, 26-14 in one of the league’s four wildcard games. The Giants and Eagles split the previous two encounters by small margins. The Giants bested the Eagles on November 9 in Philadelphia by 36-31, with the Eagles exacting revenge on December 7 on the Giants’ home turf with a hard-fought 20-14 victory.

A Giants-Eagles pairing is comparable to two siblings who have spent countless days playing each other one-on-one in basketball. There will be no surprises, a lot of jawing and they will ght to exhaustion until the very end.

As always, the key for the Giants on offense is their ability to run the football. With Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward and the offensive line having two weeks of much-needed healing time, the prospect of a solid performance is favorable. Conversely, while a resurgent Donovan McNabb has been outstanding over the past six weeks quarterbacking the Eagles, it is the versatile running back Brian Westbrook who is the most problematic player for the Giants’ defense. “He is a guy on everyone’s list in terms of what you have

to do to try to prevent him from getting the ball in the end zone,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said of Westbrook. “You saw Minnesota do a pretty good job against them in the run game, but he broke out with the 71-yard screen. He is an excellent

pass receiver…So you have to be very, very aware, certainly, of all the different alignment positions that he is in, the ways in

which he can beat you.”

Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce agreed: “He is their No.-1 threat…Our job is that all 11 guys, defensive coordinator and the whole defensive staff…make sure that we limit the big plays that No. 36 has. I think that is going to be critical to a win.”

Expect a typically close out-come with the Giants prevailing by 24-20.