Competition makes you better. And taking it one step further, when the competition inside your division is raised to another level, it provides AN OPPORTUNITY for your team to win it all.
We used to think that if there were a few easy games in the season/playoffs, that this route was preferred. STOP! Think about it- since when have the Giants ever gone all the way and won a Super Bowl title with an ‘easy’ route?!
In ’86, the Giants lost to division rival Dallas in Week 1. The 49-3 playoff win vs the 49ers was against a very good team. They also played three games of WAR vs the Redskins. That which does not kill you makes you stronger.
In ’90, it was the Eagles who stopped the Giants unbeaten streak. And it would be two teams the Giants had lost to during the regular season (49ers, Bills) that the Giants would need to go through for the title. Championships are earned.
In ’07, the Giants had lost to the Cowboys TWICE during the regular season. So it took a win vs Dallas in arguably their toughest playoff contest that year to get over the top. I thank the heavens for giving us a Flozell Adams injury in Q3 or else I do not think that game is won.
Contrast this with the adversity given by the Eagles last season, where they drew up the blueprint in W14 for the post-Burress recipe on how to beat the Giants. That ugly day was only made worse when the Giants were not able to answer 5 weeks later in the playoffs to the same divisional rival.
It may seem simple and almost trite, but if you cannot get past your division, you aren’t going anywhere. You might as well have a tough division because championships are the goal, not the playoffs.
It is with all of this said that we have to truly respect the job that Jim Johnson has done for the Eagles defenses over the years. Nothing ever came easy playing against Jim Johnson. Those blitzes were going to come and you were going to have to earn your way when you played against him. He is fighting cancer and has stepped aside as DC. We dislike (okay, hate) the Eagles, but Jim Johnson makes the NFC East what it is by giving the division 60 minutes of adversity every single game. You may not want to admit it, but the NFC East will miss him.