Sun. Jan 29th, 2023

Ralph Vacchiano

NFC East Reporter

The Giants have shocked the NFL already this season. They had been by no means anticipated to even compete for the playoffs, a lot much less win a first-round recreation.

This, although, is the place their unlikely dream is meant to come back to an finish — in Philadelphia the place they have not gained in 9 years, in opposition to the most effective workforce within the NFC. And it is not simply that the Giants have misplaced 9 straight in Philly, or that the Eagles — with quarterback Jalen Hurts — pounded them 48-22 in New Jersey again in mid-December.

It is that the Eagles are an all-star workforce, with eight Professional Bowlers, six All-Execs, an MVP candidate and a possible Coach of the Yr. The Giants are a spunky band of overachievers who’ve performed above their collective expertise stage.

So after all, heading into their divisional playoff recreation on Saturday night time (8:15 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports activities app), few count on them to win.

“Simply maintain doing that,” stated Giants security Julian Love. “It has been all season lengthy. That is nothing new. Perhaps a number of extra eyes are watching us and some extra eyes are doubting us. That is OK. You guys have seen all of it 12 months lengthy; we’ve got a assured group within the constructing.

“We go on the market and simply play our model of soccer and let the outcomes communicate for themselves.”

How Brian Daboll created an id in New York

Colin Cowherd reacts to the Giants’ wild-card win over Minnesota, crediting first-year coach Brian Daboll for creating an id early on.

It’d take their biggest effort of the season for the Giants (10-7-1) to get the consequence they need in opposition to the Eagles (13-4) and to maneuver on to the NFC Championship Recreation. It is loads to ask, however possibly it is not not possible.

It might all rely on the solutions to those key questions on this recreation:

Is Jalen Hurts actually OK?

This is likely to be a very powerful query. He missed two of the final three video games with a sprained shoulder, and when he returned for the finale — a 22-16 win over the Giants’ backups — the Eagles protected that shoulder by refusing to let him run.

However this Eagles offense does not work properly if Hurts is not the two-way menace he often is. The Giants are very cautious of what he can do each along with his arm and his legs, and the way he retains defenses off-balance and guessing. 

“He has lots of instruments in his bag,” Love stated. “He is posed a menace or an issue to all people he is performed this 12 months.”

Jalen Hurts’ shoulder a query mark?

Mark Schlereth tells Craig Carton whether or not he believes Jalen Hurts is wholesome sufficient to be productive in opposition to the Giants on Saturday.

Hurts ripped the Giants by way of the air within the first half of their first assembly, then tortured them on the bottom within the second half. They know what sort of “downside” he will be and they’re bracing for him to be a full-strength one on Saturday night time.

“I am anticipating Jalen Hurts, the MVP candidate,” Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale stated.

Which protection can cease the run?

The Eagles protection did it a lot better through the common season, giving up 121.6 dashing yards per recreation, in comparison with the 144.2 given up by the Giants, who had one of many worst dashing defenses within the league. And neither workforce was notably good down the stretch, which was actually shocking for the Eagles contemplating they bought rookie defensive deal with Jordan Davis again and signed a pair of veteran DTs in Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh.

The issue for each groups, although, has been the second-level tackling. The Giants have had linebacker points all 12 months, whereas for the Eagles it has are available in spurts. However it is going to be a selected downside for somebody on this recreation as a result of each groups need to run greater than something — each with working backs and their cellular quarterbacks. The Giants, particularly, cannot win with out manufacturing on the bottom from Jones and Saquon Barkley.

Whichever workforce limits the working recreation greatest will most likely win.

Can the Giants’ offensive line maintain up in opposition to the Eagles’ relentless stress?

New York’s patchwork, injury-plagued line pulled collectively down the stretch and was even a power within the wild-card win in Minnesota. Left deal with Andrew Thomas would possibly even be the most effective left deal with within the league proper now.

However the Giants do have regarding holes — like struggling rookie proper deal with Evan Neal and left guard Nick Gates — which might be an actual downside in opposition to an Eagles workforce that had an absurd 70 sacks this season. That features 4 gamers with double-digit sacks. Giants quarterback Daniel Jones certainly will not have the form of time within the pocket he did final week.

“We’ll have a plan for these guys,” Jones stated. “And we have lots of confidence in our guys up entrance.”

Can the Giants do to A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith what they did to Justin Jefferson?

Martindale went into the wild-card spherical decided to not let Vikings star receiver Jefferson beat the Giants, and his mission was achieved. It helped that prime cornerback Adoree’ Jackson returned. It additionally helped that Martindale dialed again the blitzing and went right into a zone that made positive Jefferson was bracketed always. The consequence was he had seven catches for simply 47 yards and was barely an element within the recreation.

Now Martindale has to determine find out how to cease two receivers like that, whereas not dropping observe of harmful Eagles tight finish Dallas Goedert (who has certainly observed the ten catches for 129 yards Vikings tight finish T.J. Hockenson had in opposition to the Giants final Sunday). Within the first assembly — when Goedert did not play — Brown and Smith completed with a mixed 9 catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns, most of which got here within the first half because the Eagles constructed a giant lead. After all, Jackson did not play in that recreation for the Giants, and neither did New York security Xavier McKinney nor linebacker Landon Collins.

Even with these three, although, it is a powerful activity to discover a strategy to maintain all of Philly’s pass-catching weapons in examine, whereas ensuring Hurts does not kill the Giants out of the backfield, too.

Will the Giants keep away from the large mistake?

One of many inconvenient truths about this Giants workforce is that they’re usually simply not adequate to beat a giant mistake. They had been killed by dangerous penalties and drops in huge spots in most of their losses this 12 months, and so they gained as a result of they hardly ever turned the ball over. For example, they nearly misplaced to the Vikings final week when Darius Slayton had an enormous fourth-quarter drop on what might’ve been a game-sealing first down.

Now they face an Eagles workforce constructed to create errors. They’ve a fierce entrance with these 70 sacks, and their secondary has 17 interceptions. That features a league-leading six from security C.J. Gardner-Johnson, who missed 5 video games with a lacerated kidney. General, the Eagles are among the many league leaders with 27 complete takeaways.

Maybe the No. 1 key to this recreation for the Giants will probably be enjoying mistake-free soccer and never turning the ball over. Doing that will be fairly a trick in opposition to this harmful Eagles workforce.

New York Giants

NYG

+7.5

+260

o48

Philadelphia Eagles

PHI

-7.5

-400

u48

Ralph Vacchiano is the NFC East reporter for FOX Sports activities, masking the Washington Commanders, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. He spent the earlier six years masking the Giants and Jets for SNY TV in New York, and earlier than that, 16 years masking the Giants and the NFL for the New York Every day Information. Comply with him Twitter at @RalphVacchiano.

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