The Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs will truly live up to its name on Saturday, when the Philadelphia Eagles host the New York Giants. These two NFC East rivals do not like each other, and this is the biggest game in the rivalry in over a decade. Both teams will give it their all, but only one of them can advance to the NFC Championship Game.
Philadelphia enjoyed a week off during the Wild Card Round after finishing with a 14-3 record, tied for the best in the NFL. On the other hand, New York upset the Minnesota Vikings 31-24 on the road to advance to the Divisional Round. That win marked the Giants’ first playoff win since their Super Bowl run in 2011, and they continue to defy the odds under first-year head coach Brian Daboll.
As divisional opponents, these teams played each other twice in the regular season, with Philadelphia winning both. In the first meeting in Week 14, the Eagles rolled over the Giants for a 48-22 win on the road. In the second meeting in Week 18, the Eagles clinched the NFC’s top seed with a 22-16 home win over the Giants’ backups.
After sweeping the Giants in the regular season, many expect the Eagles to win once again. Per FanDuel, Philadelphia is a solid 7.5-point favorite heading into this game. However, the Eagles shouldn’t overlook their opponent, and a few issues could cause them problems.
Without further ado, here are three Eagles issues that could spell disaster against the Giants.
3. Containing a red-hot Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley
As the Giants made the playoffs this season for the first time since 2016, this marked the playoff debut for Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley. Both players have had questions surrounding them throughout their career, but they are are proving doubters wrong this season. That continued with both players having great playoff debuts last week.
Jones was particularly impressive, throwing for 301 yards and two touchdowns while adding 78 yards on the ground. Meanwhile, Barkley racked up 53 yards and two touchdowns on only nine carries, and he also notched 56 yards on five catches. Granted, this did come against the Vikings’ awful defense, but it is still very impressive, nonetheless.
The first QB in NFL history with 300+ pass yards, 2+ pass TD & 70+ rush yards in a single playoff game.@Daniel_Jones10 is that dude. pic.twitter.com/3d8OxTV86n
— NFL (@NFL) January 16, 2023
It’s possible that Jones and Barkley could ride these great performances and go on a hot streak. Fortunately, the Eagles had little trouble containing them the only time they played them (remember, the Giants didn’t play their starters in Week 18), but that was in the midst of New York’s worst stretch of the season. Philadelphia needs to make sure it can shut down this Giants duo early and often and not let them get going.
2. Eagles rest or rust?
By earning the NFC’s top seed, the Eagles had the privilege of sitting back and relaxing during Wild Card Weekend. Considering key players like Jalen Hurts and Lane Johnson were dealing with injuries late in the season, the rest is very welcome. However, the Eagles need to make sure this time off doesn’t come back to bite them.
While it’s likely that the Eagles will come out on Saturday feeling nice and refreshed, there’s also a chance they could come out sloppy after not playing for two weeks. Remember, both of the top seeds lost in last year’s Divisional Round, so it wouldn’t be too shocking to see another one lose. Philadelphia must make sure this doesn’t happen and come out of the gate with a bang.
1. The Giants are playing with nothing to lose
The tricky part about being a big favorite in the playoffs is the amount of pressure that comes wth it. Think about it, if the favorite team wins, then it doesn’t get a ton of credit because that’s what everyone expects. If that team loses, though, then it becomes the laughingstock of the entire league.
On the other hand, this scenario is the exact opposite for the underdog. If that team wins, then everyone applauds them for pulling off what was seemingly impossible. If that team loses, then it still gets a good amount of credit for putting up a good fight or getting to that point at all.
Now, there are no points for guessing which team is which in this scenario. The top-seeded Eagles are playing with the weight of the world on their shoulders after such a dominant season. Meanwhile, the Giants have been plucky underdogs all season and are playing with house money at this point.
While the favored team usually prevails, there have been several cases where it cracks under the pressure. The Eagles need to make sure this doesn’t happen to them and play as if it’s just another game.