A Little Perspective

Eli Manning knows how important any NFC East game is. But he tried to take the heat off his team this week as it prepared to face the Eagles in a battle for the division's top spot.

As intense a competitor as Eli Manning is, he's also a low-key kind of guy.

So it was no surprise that he tried to let a little steam out of the pressure cooker of a game the Giants will head into at the Linc Sunday night.

Wild Eagles fans -- everybody knows how crass they get. A video-game opposing quarterback. Tough defense. And all with sole possession of first place in the NFC East at stake.

But Manning, bless his heart, put it all in perspective this week.

"It's still a big game, and we're taking it as a big game," Manning said. "This one game is not going to decide anything, and it's not going to ensure that anyone is going to win the division.

"Obviously, it's an important game when it's two teams who are 6-3 on Sunday night. We're looking at that and knowing that it's Philly week, and it's always a big game when you're playing the Philadelphia Eagles."

He's not wrong about any of it. Anytime the Giants head down the turnpike to take on Andy Reid's green-clad mob, it's a physical battle at least. Sometimes the scoreboard results belie the physicality of it all, but one only needs to remember the shot Jeremiah Trotter took at Jeff Feagles, way away from the punt return, to remember just how much these teams hate each other.

But Manning is right on with his other point, too. This is only the Giants' third division game, and they're 1-1 in the NFC East. With another game left against Philadelphia and two remaining against the Redskins, the Giants won't win the division or lose the division with this one. Both teams head into it 1-1. And unless either team takes a major slide to allow the 4-5 Redskins to sneak up there, this race is going down to the wire, anyway.

Of course, it's always nice to have a leg up on a team, which is why the Giants dearly want this one. That's in addition to quelling all those pesky pessimists who saw the Dallas loss last week as the beginning of major collapse.

It would also be nice to break the Eagles' four-game winning streak over Manning's team. Dating back to 2008, the Eagles have won three regular-season and one playoff game by a combined 128-80 count. They scored 85 points over last year's sweep.

The Eagles are healthier than the Giants at this point. Michael Vick just put up an historically productive game against the Redskins. The defense is playing well.

"They're playing at a championship level right now," defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said.

But as Manning pointed out, the season doesn't hinge on this game.

But for a Giants team looking to get back quickly from a mistake-filled division setback, this one would certainly be nice to have.

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