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To Be Champ, You Must Beat The Champ

The NFC Divisional Playoff game between the Giants and Eagles might be their third meeting of the season, but it's essentially the third different Giants team the Eagles will be playing this year.

Despite all the personnel changes that have occurred with the Giants over the past few weeks, though, defensive end Victor Abiamiri doesn't expect New York to change its* modus operandi*.

He expects to see the same team he's grown to know and loathe.

"It'll be interesting," said Abiamiri who will return Sunday from a Lis Franc sprain. "Each time is a battle, a real physical game especially with the weather being the way it is. It will probably be cold up there. We know that they're healthy and that they'll try to run the ball. It will definitely be a physical game."

While the philosophy may not change, the way it's executed has.

In the first meeting of the season in Week 10, New York had wide receiver Plaxico Burress on the roster and a healthy Brandon Jacobs in the backfield in a 36-31 Giants' victory.

Burress had only one catch, albeit for a 17-yard touchdown, but defensive coordinator Jim Johnson has openly stated that he game-planned around Burress. With the focus of the defense elsewhere, the Giants churned out 219 yards rushing, including 126 yards from Jacobs.

In the rematch at the Meadowlands in Week 14, Burress was officially suspended for the season and Jacobs, who had just 10 carries for 52 yards, was too banged up to be effective in a 20-14 Eagles' win.

In the rubber game on Sunday, the Giants will still be without Burress, but the first-round bye afforded Jacobs an opportunity to heal. However, the Eagles won't have to center their game plan on stopping Burress and they can focus on shutting down Jacobs and his cohorts, Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw.

Free safety Brian Dawkins doesn't need any added motivation, like the fact that the Giants are the defending Super Bowl champions.

"It's really not about any of that. It's about what we feel as a team and concentrating on what we have to do," Dawkins said. "I don't need anything else added to the fact that this is the New York Giants. We have played them enough and I've played them enough in my career to know what type of game this usually is. So, I don't need anything else to be added to it for me to be up and hyped for this game. I'm going to be that. I'm going to be probably up even more than that. It's about us handling what we need to handle, concentrating on what we need to concentrate on as a football team, and not worrying about anything else."

Special teams ace Omar Gaither added he couldn't imagine a better second-round matchup for the Eagles.

"(The team is) very hyped," Gaither said. "We've been there before, we've won there. We feel confident about going there and being able to come out with a victory. I don't think there's a better place we can go.

"In the playoffs, when you play teams that you know, it's always tougher."

To be the champs, the Eagles will have to beat the champs. They wouldn't have it any other way.

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