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The playoff VIPs for Eagles and Giants

12/31/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

Since a few of you may have missed it, here's our list of the most important people on each of the six NFC playoff teams heading into this weekend's wild-card games. I'm sure I'll receive some pushback, but my choices were Brandon Jacobs of the Giants and Brian Westbrook of the Eagles.

My first inclination was to pick Eli Manning, but it seemed too easy to simply choose the quarterback. You could make that argument on all 32 teams. I'm not sure we truly realized Jacobs' importance to his team until he was banged up in losses to the Eagles and Cowboys. He gives the Giants' offense its smashmouth mentality, and without him, Derrick Ward wasn't nearly as effective. I also think the offensive line plays better when Jacobs is in there because they don't put so much pressure on themselves. He can use his power to gain more yardage, and that allows the line to play loose.

Honestly, I thought the Westbrook thing was a no-brainer. You're cheating youself if you don't give him at least 20 touches -- and probably more. Even if he's a little banged up, he's the most dangerous player on the offense. His presence alone opens things up for the Eagles. Donovan McNabb is a huge part of what the Eagles do, but he's not as important as Westbrook.

I have to break away and write an Eagles column now. Hope you'll forgive me for my absence. Happy New Year from the staff at the NFC Beast!