Spot near top of NFC East amazingly on the line for Giants vs. Eagles

Consider the alternative before turning your back on what the Giants, earned or not, have before them.

They kick off Week 7 in the NFL knowing by the end of Thursday night they can be a half-game out of first place in the NFC East, a scenario even the most cockeyed optimist would have brushed off when projecting this season.

The devil is in the details here. That the 1-5 Giants and 1-4-1 Eagles are not already dead and buried in their division as they square off at Lincoln Financial Field is a byproduct of the squalor around and among them.

All it took was one victory — an uneven, largely unimpressive 20-19 escape job over Washington — for the Giants to wake up in their manure pasture without smelling foul. Watching the Cowboys drop to 2-4 after getting crushed Monday night by the Cardinals was enough for all four NFC East inhabitants to say, if not “Why not us?” then certainly this: “Why the hell them?’’

Earned or not, ready or not, the Giants, in Joe Judge’s seventh game as head coach, have a prime-time game that could carry them closer to the top than they have any right to be.

“The things I learned from playing in a lot of games in my career fortunately, is, ‘Don’t make them too big,’ ’’ said safety Logan Ryan, whose résumé includes extensive postseason experience with the Patriots and Titans. “Any time you’re playing at night, any time you’re prime time, it’s big enough. Everybody is going to be watching, you’re going to get a text from your third-grade science teacher, how they taught you how to do it or something like that.

“These games obviously in our division are very competitive. Big rivalries with the fan-bases. A lot of history there, so that’s big enough. We’re going to play these guys again, we’re going to see Washington and Dallas. I wouldn’t put all the chips on the line yet.’’

Sometimes these games are launching points, sometimes they are one-week interludes that merely offer a temporary lift out of the morass. The Giants, under Tom Coughlin in 2013, lost their first six games, then somehow won four straight. At 4-6, they actually propped themselves up into a fight for first place in Week 11, facing the Cowboys. The Giants lost and that was that, the charade over and done with.

Is this the same deal?

“I don’t think anyone in the division needs any motivation to play anyone else in the division,’’ Judge said. “This is a big Thursday night game. We’re going down to Philly. It’s going to be a great atmosphere, we’re going to have fans at the game.

“I’ve told the players from the very beginning of the season, it’s a long year. If you get too focused on looking down at the end stretch at this point right here, you don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.’’

Doesn’t a rivalry have to be earned? Sure, the Giants and Eagles play twice a season, but this series is more about domination than anything else. The Eagles have won seven straight and 11 of their past 12 against the Giants. The last time the Giants won at the Linc was 2013.

“I don’t really think about that at all, actually … this is a different team than it was in the past,’’ Judge said.

“I think it’s better clickbait than what it is,’’ Ryan said. “We’re just trying to win the game. The division games matter, and we’re trying to win it.’’

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