The importance of Sunday afternoon's game between the Eagles and New York Giants is not lost on Michael Vick. The Eagles quarterback, and the league's second-rated passer, heads into the grudge match at the New Meadowlands with a chance to lead a team to the playoffs for the first time since 2004 and he couldn't be more excited about it.
"We all know the magnitude of the game," Vick said Wednesday. "We know it's a big one. Where else would you want to be? What other position would you want to be in? (We're) playing against a good team, so we're going to have to be at our best. We're going to need each and every day this week, as far as our preparation and getting to play a good football game. Come Sunday, it's going to have to be lights out on both sides."
With both teams at 9-4, the winner will have a very inside track to win the NFC East. And in what has become a very muddled wildcard race, the safety of a division title is highly coveted.
"We just have to focus on what we do," Vick said. "We can't focus on anybody else. We control our own destiny, which is important. Who cares about what else is going on around the league? It's important, but as long as we take care of our own responsibilities, we'll be alright."
Having lost five straight games to the Eagles, including playoffs, the Giants will have another layer of motivation coming into the game as they look to pressure Vick and force the offense into mistakes. In the Week 11 meeting between the two teams, won 27-17 by the Eagles, the Giants - who are tied for the NFL lead with 39 sacks - sacked Vick three times and held him to a 83.0 quarterback rating, his lowest of the season.
"Obviously, they've got a great front four," Vick said. Defensive end Justin "Tuck and Osi (Umenyiora) and Barry Cofield — those guys do a great job in getting to the quarterback and getting after him. And they've also got (DE Jason) Pierre-Paul and some other guys who fill in, so (it is) a very tight-knit group, very strong and always willing to enforce their will."
The forecast for Sunday's game in Northern New Jersey is for a blustery, windy afternoon that could include some snow showers. But while there was a stigma about Vick's ability to play in adverse conditions - based on a very small sample size - the dynamic quarterback said that the weather shouldn't be a big factor.
"I think after being out here for two years, the cold weather doesn't bother me anymore," he said. "Our last three games have been well under 40 degrees, so I'm getting used to it. We practice in it. Doesn't seem to bother me. I'm getting used to throwing a hard ball, which is the way the ball is going to be in the cold weather. So, you just have to block out the elements and just go play football. Once you get out there, you warm up, anyway."
The Eagles will certainly be hoping Vick and the league's second-highest scoring offense will be on fire Sunday afternoon.
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 6:00 p.m., December 15