The Giants are on to the NFC divisional round.
After entering the 2022 season with zero expectations, New York has not only reached the playoffs for the first time in six years — the team is also coming off a huge Wild Card victory over the Vikings.
But this magical run is not over just yet. The Giants travel to Philly to face the division-rival Eagles Saturday night. It’s a postseason matchup that comes after the Eagles swept the Giants in the regular season for the fourth time in six years.
Philly sports a more talented roster, especially on the offensive side of the ball. But the Eagles are hampered by injuries (quarterback Jalen Hurts has dealt with a shoulder injury).
If the Giants can take advantage of the Eagles’ current limitations, we could see another upset for Big Blue, this time in the City of Brotherly Love.
Giants at Eagles
When: Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023.
Where: Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
Time: 8:15 p.m. ET.
3 Giants keys to victory
Pressure Hurts. The Giants need a huge game in the pass-rushing department. Jalen Hurts, who was an MVP-candidate quarterback before his shoulder injury, will dial it up if he has time in the pocket. Big Blue needs production out of outside linebackers Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari (questionable with a quad injury) along with defensive linemen Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams. This team does not want a repeat of the first regular-season matchup between these teams on Dec. 11, when Hurts threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another in a 48-22 Eagles win
Strong secondary play. Despite the Giants’ Wild Card victory over the Vikings, Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins still threw for 273 yards and a pair of scores on 31-of-39 passing. Tight end T.J. Hockenson additionally caught 10 balls for 129 yards.
Against the likes of wide receivers Devonta Smith, A.J. Brown, and tight end Dallas Goedert, the Adoree’ Jackson- and Xavier McKinney-led secondary must step up. Smith and Brown combined for nine catches, 134 yards, and two touchdowns in the first regular-season meeting.
Stop the run game. Eagles running back Miles Sanders rushed for a whopping 144 yards and two touchdowns in the 48-22 victory. Boston Scott also scored a touchdown in each of the two regular-season games, because of course he did (Scott has 16 rushing touchdowns in his career, 10 of which have come against the Giants). The Giants must take away the run in order to unleash the pass rushers on heavy passing downs.
Daniel Jones. We keep saying it: every game from here on out (this season at least) will be the biggest game of the young quarterback’s life. And after Jones was lights out against the Vikings (301 passing yards, two touchdown passes, 78 rushing yards), he has a great opportunity to trump a rival he has experience facing.
Jones has played the Eagles five times in his career and has amassed an impressive 65.4% completion rate and 90.1 passer rating against them, with 1,103 passing yards and five touchdowns. By adding to that resume with another big performance, Jones could propel his team to the NFC Championship and add a few more precious dollars to his potential new contract.
Dexter Lawrence. The Pro Bowl defensive lineman, who’s been one of the team’s MVPs this season, will have a huge task on his hands. He must contribute to a pass rush that needs to limit Hurts, and also play a role in defending the Sanders- and Scott-led rushing attack.
The fourth-year player has a lot on his plate, but it’s nothing he can’t handle.
Isaiah Hodgins. The young wide receiver is on an incredible run for a midseason waiver pickup (or for anyone, really). He scored a touchdown in four of the last five regular-season games in which he was active and topped it off with a 105-yard performance against the Vikings last Sunday.
Against former Giant and talented veteran cornerback James Bradberry, Hodgins needs to maintain the great rhythm he’s developed with Jones. Because if he doesn’t, the Giants could be in for a long night. The offense certainly trusts Hodgins to be more consistent and active in the passing game than fellow receivers Richie James and Darius Slayton at this point.
The Giants are winning this game.
It’s tough to overlook the Eagles’ talent and how they were able to finish the regular at 14-3, win the NFC East, and earn a first-round bye as the conference’s top seed.
But it’s also tough to overlook Hurts’ injury and how great the Giants are playing right now. You also can’t forget that the Giants lost to the Eagles in Week 18 by only six points with various backups on the field, including practice squad quarterback Davis Webb under center.
It’s incredibly difficult to beat a team three times in one season. And it won’t happen. Giants 24, Eagles 23.
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