Isn’t it crazy how quickly the NFL can change from a week-to-week standpoint? The New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles were on opposite ends of the spectrum just a month ago. Philadelphia had raced out to a 13-1 start, New York was reeling and fighting for a playoff spot.
As we enter the final week of the season, it appears both teams have been swapped. The Giants have clinched a playoff spot and have the luxury of potentially resting their starters, while the Eagles have dropped two games in a row and must play key players to clinch a first-round bye.
New York has not announced whether or not they will bench some of their key starters but with a season full of key injuries, it seems foolish if they do. Regardless, another win would set up New York in a great spot as they enter the NFL playoffs locked in as the #6 seed in the NFC.
Here are the three main keys to the Giants going into Week 18.
Sit the Starters
It really is that simple. With New York in line to play the Minnesota Vikings in the Wild Card round, the Giants have a very easy decision to make. New York can beat and almost did beat Minnesota earlier this season.
That was without a couple of key pieces in the secondary.
It seems foolish to sacrifice the health of their starters in a meaningless game for the team even if it is against a rival like Philadelphia. With players like Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, Dexter Lawrence and other key starters needed for that playoff game, it seems downright foolish to have them go up against strengths of the Eagles.
The Eagles are a team in disarray. They have turned the ball over five times in their last two games and have struggled to take care of the football over the course of the last month.
Even with the Giants’ backups, they can still force the Eagle starters to turn the ball over at inoperatune times and force sudden changes for their defense. It doesn’t have to mean forcing interceptions either. Miles Sanders, AJ Brown and several key Eagle skill guys have already had consistent issues this season of protecting the football when they need to most.
There will be chances to force a bevy of Eagle mistakes this week.
Whether Jalen Hurts or Gardner Minshew start on Sunday is irrelevant to the Giants. The key to beating the Eagles is getting consistent pressure on the quarterback.
Hurts is expected to play and isn’t expected to be at 100%. That means we should be seeing less designed runs for the MVP candidate and more throws in the pocket. Philadelphia will also be without Lane Johnson this week again due to an abdomen injury. It could be open season, particularly on the right side of the offensive line for Philly.
If Gardner Minshew plays, disguising pressure will be important. Minshew took five sacks in Sunday’s loss to New Orleans and that was after turning the ball over three times in Dallas. There’s a way to completely shell-shock Minshew and that’s by getting consistent pressure on him.
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