The New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles and set to face each other for the third time this season when they meet on Saturday in the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs.
With so much on the line, every tiny advantage could pay huge dividends, so we brought in beat writers for each team to discuss how the teams are likely approaching this game and which players could play pivotal roles. Below is a conversation with Christian Arnold, the Giants beat writer for amNew York Sports, and two contributors from Philly Sports Network: Bryan Cameron, the Eagles Managing Editor, and Ethan Rappleye, Eagles Writer for PSN.
How did the Eagles have success against the Giants in earlier games?
CA: Not counting the Week 18 win, which was closer than people expected, the Giants were just outmatched in Week 14. They were in the midst of one of their worst stretches of the season, and it showed. Philly took full advantage of that, stifling the Giants’ run game – Saquon Barkley had just 28 rushing yards and Tyrod Taylor led the team with 40 – and sacked Daniel Jones twice. On the flip side, Jalen Hurts looked like the MVP-caliber QB he is, and the Giants let the Eagles run the ball as much as they wanted.
BC: Offensively, the Eagles relied heavily on the run game in their first matchup. The Eagles rushed for a total of 254 yards with Miles Sanders leading the way with 144 rushing yards. They also scored four rushing touchdowns to go along with the two passing touchdowns from Jalen Hurts. Another advantage for the Eagles was their ability to hold onto the ball to control the clock. The Eagles won the time of possession battle 32 minutes to the Giants’ 27 minutes.
In what areas did the Eagles struggle against the Giants in earlier games?
CA: It’s hard to nitpick much of that Week 14 matchup and Week 18 is hard to use as a barometer.
ER: In the first game between these two teams, the Eagles did not struggle much. They dominated on both the offensive and defensive ends and even received some jolts from Boston Scott on special teams. The second game was much closer despite the Giants playing few starters. Philadelphia’s offense moved the ball up and down the field but had trouble scoring in the red zone, being held to five field goals and just one touchdown.
How will this game be different than the first two?
CA: Well, for one thing, the Giants are a much more confident team and playing some of their best football going into this matchup on Saturday. Also, their starters will be in the lineup, unlike in the final game of the regular season. The Giants will also be much healthier this time around, which wasn’t the case in the first meeting in Week 14.
BC: The intensity. Both teams have a lot to lose for different reasons. The Giants will fight for their pride in hopes of not being beaten by the Eagles for a third time. While the Eagles will fight to prove that they’re the number one seed in the NFC for a reason. While both teams are extremely banged up, this battle will come down to which team has more poise. Something that has been a strength of Jalen Hurts.
Which Giants player should scare the Eagles to most?
CA: Perhaps I’m buying into the swagger, but I’d have to say edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux. The man who once said “prime time likes me” has backed that up with his play on the field this season. In big games, the rookie has stepped up for the Giants, including that Sunday Night Football clash with the Washington Commanders. Thibodeaux’s four sacks, 49 tackles, 13 quarterback hits, and six tackles for losses don’t show the full scope of the player that he is, and the Eagles could learn that on Saturday night.
ER: The Giant who puts the most fear into the Eagles should be Daniel Jones. Some may argue it’s Saquon Barkley, but Jones played the best game of his career last week against Minnesota and has yet to reach his ceiling, while Barkley is already at his. After just one year in a new offensive system, Jones has broken out as a running threat, getting more yards on the ground than even Jalen Hurts. His arm has always been his biggest weakness, but against the Vikings he was extremely efficient and accurate without turning the ball over. Jones is not an elite quarterback, but he’s young and ascending, with the ability to put the team on his back as he did last week.
Which Eagles player should scare the Giants to most?
CA: It’s hard to pick anyone other than Jalen Hurts. The Eagles have a roster that is dangerous up and down, but Hurts takes the cake, especially after he threw for 217 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for another 77 yards and a TD on the ground.
BC: Haason Reddick. There’s a reason that he finished the season with 16 sacks and five forced fumbles. Reddick has a motor that never slows down, and he will be key to the Eagles’ plan of attack. If Philly wants to win this game, then they need to unleash Haason Reddick and allow him to make Daniel Jones very uncomfortable.
How can the Eagles win this game?
CA: Repeat the dominant performance they had in Week 14 against the Giants at the Meadowlands. Punch a hole through the Giants’ defensive line with their run game, and Jalen Hurts needs to be Jalen Hurts. After seeing each other twice in one month, there aren’t too many secrets at this point, and the Eagles gameplan won’t change much this time around.
ER: The Eagles can win this game by sticking to their identity. In Week 14, they blew out New York nu establishing a ground game then expanded out into the passing game when needed. When the Eagles’ offense is balanced, it may be the hardest to stop in the league. On the defensive side, they have to at least be serviceable in run-stopping, which is something they’ve had a hard time doing in some games.
How can the Giants win this game?
CA: I think the key to this is for the defense to be able to contain Hurts as best as they can and for the secondary to repeat the effort they had against Minnesota where they held Justin Jefferson to just 47 yards on seven receptions. On the offensive side, the Giants’ O-line needs to be able to fend off the scary Eagles pass rush. Give Daniel Jones the time to make the right plays and continue the success he’s had over the past few weeks.
BC: If the Giants want to upset the Eagles then they have to force Philadelphia’s offense into mistakes. The games that the Eagles have lost have been because of their inability to take care of the ball. Time of possession is also another factor. In all of the Eagles’ losses and close games this season, the team has been on the wrong end of the time of possession. If the Giants can keep the Eagles’ offense off of the field then there’s no way that Hurts and company can find a rhythm. Those two components would lead to a huge upset win for New York.
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