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Giants don't think 4-1 Eagles are so special

Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (90) warms up

Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (90) warms up before a game against the Philadelphia Eagles. (Oct. 6, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

On Wednesday, Tom Coughlin noted the Eagles' 4-1 record and said they could very well be 5-0. Which is true. Their only loss was at San Francisco, 26-21.

Jason Pierre-Paul chose to look at the possibilities from the opposite perspective.

"They could have easily been 0-4,'' he said, perhaps giving them a bye somewhere along the way to compensate for his shaky math. "The games were that close. You know it, too! I watch TV. You watch TV, too. The games were close. I feel like we shouldn't go out there and make it a close game.''

The Eagles naturally hyperventilated over the hypothetical, staunchly defending their record.

"It's not about the what-ifs, it's about the reality of the situation,'' linebacker Emmanuel Acho said when alerted to Pierre-Paul's theory. "The reality is we're 4-1 trying to be 5-1.''

"It's 4-1 in the NFL,'' fellow linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. "All games are tough, so if you win, you win. Everybody could have lost a game, no matter what your record is. It could always be the opposite of the record.''

The Giants' point seems to be that the Eagles' perch atop the NFC East may have more to do with the mistakes of their opponents than with anything special they accomplished themselves.

Seven of Philadelphia's 18 touchdowns have come when the offense was not on the field: three off turnovers, two on blocked punts and one each on kickoff and punt returns. They won their first three games despite trailing by at least 10 points in each of them (an NFL first). They scored 55 points in their last two games despite producing only two offensive touchdowns.

They're more like Vultures than Eagles, circling to pick the mistakes from their opponents' carcasses.

"What else would you call it?'' Giants special teams captain Zak DeOssie said when asked if the Eagles have been opportunistic. "It's all about mitigating their mistakes and capitalizing on yours.''

"They're very opportunistic as a team,'' Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo said. "They have a lot of good athletes and good schemes across the board, and when the ball is on the ground, they usually seem to wind up with it. We have to do what we can to keep the ball out of their hands and have no giveaways.''

If the Giants can avoid the self-inflicted errors that have befallen others, they believe they'll have a great chance to win Sunday night.

Linebacker Mark Herzlich, who also plays on special teams, was asked what the Eagles have done on specials that makes them so effective. He shrugged.

"They blocked a punt for a touchdown because a dude didn't set and block him,'' Herzlich said. "That's, you just do your job. They had a couple of long returns because a guy pulled his hamstring. That happened against Washington. So try not to get hurt on the field.''

Good advice. Of course, the Giants haven't exactly been infallible on special teams themselves.

"It's not what they do, that's not what the big deal is,'' Herzlich said. "They're good at doing their jobs and doing it consistently. What they count on is for the other team to either get bored or lulled to sleep or misaligned, and then that's when they break one.''

Despite the somewhat convincing argument by the Giants of what could be, it's the Eagles who are tied for first place, the Eagles who are the defending NFC East champions and the Eagles who are favored by three points.

Before the season, Pierre-Paul predicted that the Giants would win the division. So far, as impressive as the Giants have been during their three-game winning streak, they haven't brought a lot of doubters to their side.

"We're the underdogs, I hope we're the underdogs,'' JPP said. "At the end of the day, most people expect us not to win this game. And I will say it's OK . . . We don't want nobody on our side.''

With Anthony Rieber

in Philadelphia

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