It’s hard to be definitive about these things, because the emotions are so raw. The Giants have three teams with whom they have long, detailed blood feuds. It so happens that all three share a division with them now. That’s really what makes the NFC East such a fun little quadrant.
There were a few years there where the Cardinals — in both St. Louis and, later on, against all geographic logic, Phoenix — were also in that division but that always felt wrong, very wrong, like someone drawing a mustache on the Mona Lisa. The past 15 or so years, the East has been exactly as it should be:
And those emotions we talked about earlier? They swirl like angry dust within these internecine borders. Cowboys fans dislike the Eagles and loathe the Skins and detest the Giants. Redskins fans abhor the Cowboys and despise the Eagles and hate the Giants. Eagles fans slander the Giants and libel the Cowboys and defame the Eagles.
Giants fans? It’s an endless loop of loathing, really, and oftentimes the answer lies in a simple question: who are we playing this week?
If it’s Dallas week, any good Giants fan can get themselves good and lathered up about the various and sundry crimes and misdemeanors that Jerry Jones has perpetrated upon them, among a thousand other grievances dating back to the early ’60s. If it’s Washington week, there are plenty of old resentments to ruminate over all the way back to 1966 and Redskins 72, Giants 41.
Of course, this is Philadelphia week. And maybe it’s just time to identify an emerging truth among Giants fans: the Cowboys and Redskins may embody pure football evil.
But the Eagles are Satan himself.
We really saw that last February, when the stark reality of the Eagles winning the Super Bowl started to sink in around here. Giants fans have endured five such celebrations from the Cowboys, and each one made them want to poke their eyes with No. 2 pencils. Giants fans have had to watch three such revelries from the Redskins, and each one made them want to dunk their heads in tubs of scalding water.
Displeasing experiences, all.
None of those compared to Eagles 41, Patriots 33, though. For all the many times the Eagles have tortured the Giants through the years — and we’ll spare you the whole list, but a partial one would include, in easily identifiable shorthand, The Fumble, the Westbrook Game, the Blocked Field Goal Game and the DeSean Jackson Game — the Giants always had this to lord over Philly:
Giants: four Super Bowls since 1987.
Eagles: zero Super Bowls ever. No titles since 1960.
That was a fun world to live in as a Giants fan. That was a world where you could always count on Donovan McNabb losing the big one, on Andy Reid losing track of the clock, on Jim Plunkett finding Kenny King for an 80-yard touchdown in Super Bowl XV that, thanks to NFL Films’ super-duper-slow-mo, always takes about 25 or 30 glorious seconds to play out from start to finish.
In that world, the Eagles could have their regular moral victories. They could come into North Jersey more regularly than any team should and steal playoff wins here and there. They could be the annoying neighbors down the Turnpike, the profane folks from the wrong side of the tracks. And it didn’t matter. The Eagles would always find a pothole somewhere before the finish line.
Then Philly Special happened.
And Nick Foles happened.
Eagles 41, Patriots 33 happened.
And maybe it’s for the best. You could always sense Giants fans wanted to be unambiguous in their feeling toward the Eagles, and now it’s OK. It’s more than OK. And the best thing is, in this new world, the Giants this week will get the chance to be for the Eagles what the Eagles have been to the Giants for so many years: the ultimate spoilers.
Even with the sudden spike in optimism, the Giants almost certainly aren’t going to the playoffs. But if they win this weekend in Philadelphia, they can almost guarantee the next-best thing: the Eagles won’t get a chance to defend their title. They’ll be just like the Giants, on the outside looking in. If that happens, maybe this brave new world still won’t be as fun or as satisfying as the old one was.
But it wouldn’t be so awful, either.