Even if it wasn't a primetime matchup, Sunday's game against the Giants would certainly be a must-see event. Sure, Eagles fans hate the Cowboys with a passion. But the Giants rivalry is more than that. There is a begrudging respect on both sides that makes for great drama and even better football.
Few on the Giants understand this better than quarterback Eli Manning, who will make his ninth visit to Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday.
"We've had some great games in my career, since I've been here," Manning said on a conference call with Philadelphia reporters. "(There have been) some classic battles; seems like a bunch of them come down to the fourth quarter. Some have been lopsided one way or the other, but not many. Some have been classic defensive battles, and some have been high scoring where the offenses were dominant.
"So you never know what you're going to get; what to expect. I know you're going to get a team that's going to be ready to play. They're going to be fired up."
Sunday night is the Eagles' first of five primetime games this season. And after last week's loss in Arizona, this game gives the team a chance to make a statement in front of the entire football world.
"It's a big game, a big week," said linebacker DeMeco Ryans. "With this being a divisional game, it's huge for us. Our first divisional game is when we're looking to start out really good in our division."
Through three games, Ryans and the Eagles defense have been the driving force behind the team's 2-1 start. Manning knows this, but sees a defense that looks similar to the 2011 version in many ways, including the Eagles' ferocious pass rush.
"Third-and-long is tough against them, just because their front four, they're going to get pressure," Manning said. "It's hard to hold the ball real long back there. They do a good job of getting turnovers.
"They have a number of interceptions. They get to the quarterback and get sacks and cause fumbles, so we just have to make sure we're not making mistakes and playing smart football."
In the teams' last meeting, the Eagles were able to force Manning into several mistakes. The Eagles sacked him three times, intercepted him once and forced a fumble in the fourth quarter that ultimately sealed the game for the Eagles.
While Manning has certainly been impressive over the past two seasons, he isn't doing it alone. The Giants employ a very balanced offense, something that has become rare in today's NFL, according to Ryans.
"Most teams are strong in one area or another, but they are a balanced team," he said. "With that, you just have to be ready to stop the run first and foremost, and then see if we can get after the quarterback."
Still, the offense runs through Manning. And the defense knows just how dangerous he and the Giants offense can be. Just ask defensive end Trent Cole, who has been facing Manning his entire career.
"He's getting the ball off and he's getting the ball to his receivers and getting the ball down the field," Cole said. "That's what the good quarterbacks do. As we come into that game, we know have to lock down everything."
How do you lock down the Giants offense? Cole has the answer.
"It starts up front," he said. "It starts with the D-line. We have to apply pressure. That's where it's going to start, and that's how it's going to happen."
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