Giants (9-7-1) (1-0) Philadelphia
Philadelphia Eagles locked up the No. 1 seed in the NFC, and did not have to play
last week in the first round of the Wild Card Playoffs.
The Giants were in
Minnesota on Sunday, and the teams fought hard to continue on in the playoffs.
The Giants achieved that goal with a 31-24 win over the Vikings.
hard to evaluative the very last game the Eagles played in even though it was
against the Giants. The relevance fades when you consider the Giants were resting
players as their playoff position was locked up. The Eagles were in line to take
advantage of that, because they wanted a win to secure the top seed and a bye
week. Their efforts were still likely restrained, intent on keeping, among others,
Jalen Hurts free from injury.
The Eagles extended themselves just enough to
stay ahead in the game and come up with a win. Any thoughts on the game the Giants
and Eagles played in their first matchup just a few weeks earlier, have to be
tempered as well. Hurts was playing at full strength then, but the Giants didn't
have all the players that they now have available because of injuries at the time.
the first game the Eagles played with the Giants, a fully healthy Jalen Hurts
threw for two touchdowns, and he ran for another one. Miles Sanders had two rushing
touchdowns, and ran for a total of 144 yards. Sanders hasn't run for nearly half
that much in the four games since then, and has scored no touchdowns over that
time. Sanders leads the team in rushing yards and carries, and has 9 touchdowns,
second to Hurts, who has 11, and is the second leading rusher on the team, as
he also was in that Giants game.
Wide receivers A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith
each caught one of Hurts two touchdown passes in that last game. Tight end Dallas
Goedert didn't play, but these three receivers are responsible for 21 of the Eagles
total touchdowns on the year. Brown leads in receiving yards and touchdowns with
11. Smith leads in catches and has 7 touchdowns. Goedert is right behind them
in those categories, and has 3 touchdowns, as well as wide receiver Quez Watkins.
quarterback Gardner Minshew filled in for Hurts when he was out recovering from
his shoulder injury, and the Eagles took two losses. Minshew threw three touchdowns,
but also had three interceptions. He did run for one touchdown, but the extent
of his running was 5 carries for 5 yards, and he took 6 sacks in the last game
he played. Reading all this, you can easily see the value Hurts brings to the
team. The question for this upcoming game is will he be able to do all the things
a healthy Hurts can do, because that's what they need to win this game.
last time this unit played against the Giants they had an opportunity to break
a long standing record. In 1984 the Chicago Bears recorded the most sacks in a
season with 72. The Eagles had 68 going into that last game, and would be playing
against a Giants team fielding backups, including a quarterback who had never
started in an NFL game. Just one week earlier, the Eagles sacked New Orleans Saints
quarterback Andy Dalton 6 times, and Taysom Hill once, giving them 6 or more sacks
in each of their last five games. Their impressive front four was responsible
for 49 of those total 68 sacks.
Haason Reddick had the most with 16. Javon
Hargrave, Brandon Graham, and Josh Sweat each had 11. After that Giants game,
those numbers did not change, and there were no sacks on quarterback Davis Webb.
Other defensive players came up with two sacks, when punter Jamie Gillan was sacked
on a trick play, as well as tight end Lawrence Cager, on another one attempting
a pass. That gave the Eagles their 70th sack, tying them with the 1987 Chicago
Bears third place season record.
Can we safely assume that the Eagles pass
pressure has faded, and even backups can keep them at bay? More than likely they
played that game as their offense did, with a concerted effort to avoid injures.
Daniel Jones took 4 sacks, and Tyrod Taylor 1 in their last game with the Eagles,
and there won't be any holding back this game as there maybe was with the backups.
The Giants also won't be holding back using Jones as a runner as they have in
the last two games, where he's carried the ball 28 times for 169 yards, and 2
the last two games they've played (with the expected starters on the field), the
score was 38-10 over the Colts, and 31-24 over the Vikings. In all the games before
that, they never hit the 30 point mark. With most health issues resolved, and
newer players understanding their roles, the Giants offense is on an upswing.
Daniel Jones certainly did his part in the
wild card win over the Vikings, completing 24 of 35 passes for 301 yards and 2
touchdowns. He also had 78 rushing yards on 17 carries. The
Eagles ranked 16th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game, giving up 4.64
yards a play.
The Giants had slightly better numbers than that against the
Eagles in the two games they played, and Jones carried the ball only four times.
They should see a different looking offense coming at them this time. In their
first game, Saquon Barkley carried the ball just 9 times for 3.1 average yards
per carry and no touchdowns. Last week Barkley had the same number of carries
for 53 rushing yards, averaging 5.9 yards a carry, and two rushing touchdowns.
He totaled 109 scrimmage yards when you add in his 5 catches for 56 yards. The
Giants know they have to get the ball in Barkley's hands any way they can.
no doubt this unit is on an upswing. In the last three games Jones has played,
they've come up with an average 423 yards of offense. It was 431 yards last week,
and they only punted the ball twice. Any expectations should be toned down, considering
the Eagles finished the regular season with the league's best passing defense.
Wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins in only 8 games this season logged the third most
receiving yard with 351, and in his post season game caught 8 of 9 passes for
105 yards and 1 touchdown. Hodgins now leads the team on the year with 5 touchdowns.
The Eagles will have to factor him in more now along with Darius Slayton, Richie
James, Daniel Bellinger, and Kenny Golladay(?).
Stopping the run will be the major
focus this next game. The Giants gave up 254 yards and 4 rushing touchdowns to
Miles Sanders, Jalen Hurts, and Boston Scott in that earlier game they played.
Miles Sanders was the 5th ranked running back in the league going into his last
game of the regular season where he saw limited action. This season Sanders has
logged a career high 1,269 rushing yards, and 11 touchdowns. Sanders gets an extra
edge every time Hurts takes a snap, as to check which one who will be taking the
Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale had his unit blitz more than any
other team during the season. He switched things up on the Minnesota Vikings last
week, and went for more pass coverage. It worked against Justin Jefferson, the
top receiver in the league, but at the cost of allowing the middle of the field
to be open for tight end T.J. Hockenson to catch 10 of 11 passes for 129 yards.
Neither of Kirk Cousins top receivers caught a touchdown, and he had to search
elsewhere for that. This week the Giants pass rush will be up against a tough
offensive line, and they also have their own trio of top pass catchers. Just as
the Giants saw last week, you can't stop them all.
In that first Eagles game
Leonard Williams wasn't available up front, but they did sack Hurts 4 times, and
even the backups came up with 3 sacks and 1 interception in their last game. Adoree'
Jackson and Xavier McKinney missed that first game, and Landon Collins was not
in the mix. The Giants defense is at full strength now, with the exception of
edge rusher Azeez Ojulari who is listed as questionable to play
The Philadelphia Eagles have lost only one game this season with Jalen Hurts as
their quarterback. The Giants will try to move that number up a notch so they
can move on to face more challenges the following week. The Eagles are the well
deserved heavy favorites, and have had an extra week of rest. In a strange twist,
the Giants sort of 'gifted' the Eagles that extra-skip-a- game-bye, by sidelining
their important starters for the Eagles last game of the season.
Hurts even more recovery time, and will that be what does them in on Saturday?
The bottom line is that the Giants are playing at their best right now, and the
Eagles have so far shown they can't win without a healthy Hurts. The big question
is will he be able to go all out, or will he be hampered by his shoulder? As they
say, don't turn the dial, and tune in on Saturday.
Saturday at 8:15pm Giants (9-7-1)
at Eagles (14-3)
Sunday at 6:30pm Cowboys (12-5) at 49ers (13-4)
are the only NFC East team favored to win in these games.
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