There have been big games before, of course. But well, this one certainly has the town talking.
"It ranks right up there with all of the hottest games we have had at Lincoln Financial Field, and even before that," said Eagles director of ticket client service Leo Carlin. "It was a big draw the instant the schedule came out, but it has gone off the charts with the way the Eagles are playing and with the magnitude of the division game."
The game kicks off the team's seventh year of its Tackling Breast Cancer Campaign, in conjunction with Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, and while there is going to be a noticeable presence of pink in the air signifying the awareness to raise funds to fight breast cancer, the general mood will be red hot.
On the heels of last week's "Eagles South" game in Jacksonville, when thousands of Eagles fans turned EverBank Field into a sea of Midnight Green, the locals are salivating over their 2-1 team.
Through three weeks, the team's local television ratings are huge, with the audience averaging 1.2 million viewers per week in the Philadelphia region alone. That number is sure to be smashed on Sunday. The season ticket waiting list numbers among the highest in the NFL and, I imagine, in all of sports. Business within the team's Ticket Exchange, where fans can legally buy and sell tickets, has been exceedingly slow. Almost nobody is willing to part with game tickets, especially for this much-anticipated battle against Washington (Spud warning, fans: Stay away from counterfeit tickets on the streets around Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday. With high demand comes a high rate of counterfeit tickets. Don't say I didn't warn you …)
On this very web site, the demand is insatiable. The night Andy Reid held a press conference announcing that Michael Vick would be the starting quarterback, more than 110,000 fans tuned in. Subsequent interviews with Reid and Vick were seen by the equivalent of three ratings points (90,000-plus) worth of Eagles fans, and if you live in the advertising world, that means big business.
This week alone, traffic on PhiladelphiaEagles.com has averaged more than 180,000 unique sessions each day, an uptick of between 10 and 12 percent from the usually-high traffic on one of the league's most popular web sites. Fans are visiting the site and sticking – watching the live programming and visiting other parts of the site to generate more than 3 million page views (and counting) already this week.
It is a perfect storm for the fans. The Eagles lead the division, having won back-to-back games on the road to reach 2-1. The young team is playing dynamic football. Vick, with his 110.2 passer rating, has become one of the most popular names in all of sports once again. He is wanted by every major media outlet across the country. On Wednesday, he was named the NFC's Offensive Player of the Month for September.
And, of course, the draw of McNabb's return is irresistible. The story has dominated Philadelphia this week -- the United States, really -- with television specials and newspaper features scattering the sports landscape.
"It's a big game," said Vick, "because it is one of 16 and it is in the NFC East. We're approaching it like any other game."
Forgive Vick on this one. He has only been an Eagle since August, 2009 and while the football culture is more frenzied than anything he has experienced, and while he went through the Brian Dawkins-returns hype of last season, this is new territory.
And it is exciting for everyone.
"The fans here," said Vick, "they live and breathe football. It's pretty amazing. I'm so grateful to them for the support and the love that they've shown me since day one when I got here. It's a great place to play football."
As has happened so many times in the past, Philadelphia is the center of the NFL universe this week. The temperatures may be dropping in the fall climate, but the heat is rising here.
"This is going to be a little bit crazy around here on Sunday," said veteran safety Quintin Mikell. "We know it. The fans are going to come out and respond and it's going to be a great environment for everyone."