Posted on December 21, 2016, by Travis Pulver
Philadelphia is known as the City of Brotherly Love, but Eagles fans do anything but show love to visitors during the holiday season. Their infamous behavior began back in 1968 when they pelted a 19-year old playing Santa with snowballs. In 1989, they gave the Dallas Cowboys a warm, snowball-filled welcome. The sitting governor even got in on the act.
When Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin suffered his career-ending neck injury in Philadelphia, the fans cheered.
New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. talked about how ruthless Eagles fans can be and how the only thing you can do is embrace it during a recent conference call with the media:
“I don’t have any stories, but I’ve been called anything in the book over there when you’re down in Philly. You just embrace it. It’s great. They don’t want to see you win. There’s nothing wrong with that.
“But just some of the stuff that was said, it’s pretty crazy. But at the end of the day, it’s all noise. It’s just words, it’s all talks. It’s not going to make or break who you are. But it’s a pretty ruthless place down there.”
The hate will likely be flowing fast Thursday night when the Giants walk onto Lincoln Financial Field. Eagles fans have not had a lot to be thankful for this season. They thought their rookie quarterback could get away without playing in the preseason and still be ready. He certainly looked the part three weeks into the season, but since they dominated the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week Three, it has been downhill.
Their 3-0 start has become a 5-9 disappointment, but all is not lost. There is no chance they make the postseason, but they can get the next best thing—they can make the holiday season a little less merry for one of their hated rivals, the New York Giants.
The Giants could lock up a playoff spot for the first time since 2011 with a win over the Eagles Thursday night. Entering Week 16, they have a 10-4 record, would be the No. 5 seed if the playoffs started this week, and have a two-game advantage over the teams fighting for the No. 6 seed.
So–the Giants should have no trouble finding motivation to play well. The fact that the key win could come against a rival is icing on the cake. But could the Eagles pull off the upset and take down the mighty Giants at home?
When they played back in Week 9, it was a close, hard-fought game won by the Giants, 28-23. The Eagles defense held the Giants running game to just 54 yards and held Eli Manning to 257 yards (22-36) and two interceptions, but Manning made the most of his completions (four touchdowns).
One interception came late in the fourth quarter and gave the Eagles a chance to win with a short field to cover and more than enough time to do it, but Wentz couldn’t complete a pass when his team needed him to.
Fans will look at Wentz’s track record, think about how the Giants defense abused the Dallas offense, and wonder if the Eagles will even get a first down, let alone score points. Wentz lit the Eagles up for 364 yards last time. Yes, that was partly due to two interceptions that set up Giants touchdowns and forced them to overcome a sizable deficit—but he was able to move the ball. If he can cut out the mistakes, maybe this time they will not have to fight their way out of a hole.
But don’t count on it.
The Giant defense has been playing better and better with each passing week. In the six weeks, since they last played the Eagles, the Giants defense has given up an average of 14 points a game. In the same time frame, Wentz has thrown four touchdowns and eight interceptions–but he did nearly mount a fourth quarter comeback against a tough Ravens defense last week.
Wentz may turn into a legitimate franchise quarterback at some point in his career, but for now, he isn’t ready to play with the big boys yet—and the Giants defense certainly qualifies as one of the “big boys.”