Why the Eagles win, and why they don't

5 REASONS EAGLES WILL WIN

1. When Donovan McNabb plays well, he plays very well. He plays well enough to beat any team, anywhere. Watching some of Fox's camera angles last week, you could see how McNabb was zipping his passes into very small spaces. If McNabb is hot, the Birds win.

2. There is a greater chance for McNabb to be hot if the running game is working. This task falls onto the offensive line and it also falls onto the coaches, who need to develop a game plan that stresses patience and encourages diligence. The last time in Giants Stadium, the Birds ran successfully and won. If the Birds control the ball, move the ball and convert third downs, they will win.

3. The Eagles' defense has been ferocious down the stretch. Do they have another big game in them? (Do they have three more?) If the defense stops the run and then can tee off on Eli Manning, it could be a long game for the Giants.

4. Kicking field goals in the climate-controlled Metrodome is easy. Kicking field goals in the swirling, biting winds of a frigid Giants Stadium is hard. Winning the field-goal battle might be a big part of winning a 16-13 NFC East kind of game.

5. The Eagles will win because the Phillies won the World Series. This makes no sense, either from an X's and O's standpoint or even from a karma standpoint. People believe it, though, and teams have won playoff games for stranger reasons.

5 REASONS GIANTS WILL WIN

1. Brandon Jacobs runs wild. This could happen. You know it; Jim Johnson knows it. There is a history of Giants running backs hurting the Birds in the playoffs. The year after the 1980 Super Bowl, the Giants beat the Eagles in the wild-card game at the Vet, 27-21. Rob Carpenter, the ultimate journeyman running back, was unstoppable, rushing 33 times for 161 yards.

2. The Giants are rested. The Birds are weary, having played a tough, physical game at Minnesota. The Giants' fresh legs could make a difference in the second half.

3. Giants Stadium is a nice homefield advantage for Big Blue. While the crowd isn't full of wild-eyed crazies, they still rev it up for the home team. Bad things tend to happen to visiting teams there.

4. Despite winning a Super Bowl, Eli Manning gets little to no respect, especially around here. OK, he isn't Peyton. But he can be efficient and if his running game is working, he doesn't have to be Peyton to win.

5. The wrong Eagles team shows up. The Birds' alarming inconsistency this season worries everyone. When they're good, they're very good. When they're bad, people are being thrown off and under the bus. A bad Birds' team won't get it done. 

-- Chuck Bausman

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