Top-seeded Eagles start playoff run against Giants
NEW YORK GIANTS (10-7-1) at PHILADELPHIA (14-3)
Saturday, 8:15 p.m., FOX
FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK NFL LINE: Eagles by 71/2
AGAINST THE SPREAD: New York 14-4; Philadelphia 8-9
SERIES RECORD: Eagles lead 90-86-2.
LAST MEETING: Eagles defeated Giants 22-16 on Jan. 8 in Philadelphia.
LAST WEEK: Giants beat Vikings, 31-24. Eagles had a bye.
EAGLES OFFENSE: OVERALL (3), RUSH (5), PASS (9), SCORING (3).
EAGLES DEFENSE: OVERALL (2), RUSH (T-16), PASS (1), SCORING (8).
GIANTS OFFENSE: OVERALL (18), RUSH (4), PASS (26), SCORING (T-15).
GIANTS DEFENSE: OVERALL (25), RUSH (27), PASS (14), SCORING (T-17).
TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Giants plus-3; Eagles plus-8.
EAGLES PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Jalen Hurts. After an injury to his right throwing shoulder against the Bears on Dec. 18 sidelined him for two games and derailed his MVP chances, Hurts returned in the regular-season finale on Jan. 8 and helped the Eagles clinch the NFC’s No. 1 seed with a less-than-stellar 22-16 win over the Giants, who rested key starters on both sides of the ball with their playoff seed already secured. Coach Nick Sirianni and offensive coordinator Shane Steichen employed a vanilla game plan, and Hurts clearly wasn’t taking any chances for re-injury, finishing with just 13 yards on nine rushing attempts in addition to 229 yards in the air. These numbers pale in comparison to the gaudy statistics the third-year pro has put up this season while leading Philadelphia to a 14-1 record in his starts. Hurts has been prolific in his second season as starter, throwing for 22 touchdowns, rushing for 13 and combining for 4,461 yards through the air and on the ground while giving defenses fits with his dual-threat ability. He was not listed on the injury report this week, signaling that he has recovered from the sprained right shoulder. At full strength, Hurts handled the Giants for 294 combined passing and rushing yards and three TDs in Philadelphia’s dominating 48-22 win on Dec. 11 at the Meadowlands. The Giants are expecting Hurts to be at 100 percent.
GIANTS PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Daniel Jones. He has quieted critics with a strong season that included a record-setting performance in No. 6 New York’s 31-24 upset victory at third-seeded Minnesota on Sunday. The 25-year-old Duke product became the first QB in NFL playoff history to throw for at least 300 yards and two touchdowns and rush for at least 70 yards when he had 301 yards and 2 TDs while running 17 times for 78 yards in a performance that drew raves from teammates. Jones looks primed for a big contract this offseason after the Giants didn’t exercise the fifth-year option on his rookie deal this past offseason. But the No. 6 overall pick in the 2019 draft brushed aside financial questions this week, putting his full focus on the Eagles. Jones rested in the regular-season finale against Philadelphia when third-stringer Davis Webb took the snaps. But he will need to be much better than the first meeting against the Eagles when he threw for just 169 of his regular-season total of 3,205 passing yards — particularly against Philadelphia’s stingy pass defense, which ranked first in the NFL while allowing 179.8 yards per game.
KEY MATCHUP: New York’s offensive line against the Eagles defensive front. Philadelphia’s front four has wreaked havoc on opposing quarterbacks. Haason Reddick (16 sacks), Josh Sweat (11) and Javon Hargrave (11) and Brandon Graham (11) all reached double-digit sacks, marking the first time that has happened since the league began keeping sacks as a statistic in 1982 to help Philadelphia set a team record with an NFL-leading 70 sacks. The Giants offensive line is anchored by LT Andrew Thomas.
KEY INJURIES: Eagles Pro Bowl RT Lane Johnson is set to return after missing the past two games with a torn abductor. The injury ordinarily likely would require surgery, but Johnson indicated his intention to play through it during the postseason. DE Sweat (neck) is set to come back after missing the regular-season finale. CB Avonte Maddox (toe) still has not been able to practice after getting injured on Dec. 24 against Dallas. For the Giants, FS Jason Pinnock was back practicing as a full participant after an abdomen injury against the Vikings resulted in a postgame hospital trip. OLB Azeez Ojulari (quadriceps) was among the Giants limited in practice midweek, joining S Julian Love (hamstring), DB Landon Collins (ankle), CB Fabian Moreau (hip), WR Isaiah Hodgins (ankle) and CB Adoree’ Jackson (back).
SERIES NOTES: The teams have met four times in the postseason, with each winning two. Philadelphia defeated the Giants 23-11 in the divisional round on Jan. 11, 2009, and 23-20 on Jan. 7, 2007 in a wild-card game. New York scored a 20-10 divisional game victory on Jan. 7, 2001, and a 27-21 wild-card win on Dec. 27, 1981.
STATS AND STUFF: Giants first-year coach Brian Daboll knows Hurts well after having served as offensive coordinator/QB coach at Alabama in 2017 when Hurts was the starting QB there before transferring to Oklahoma. Daboll helped the Crimson Tide win the national title in his only season at Alabama, with current Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa replacing Hurts in the second half to lead the Tide to a comeback victory over Clemson in the title game. ... Prior to Daboll taking the helm last offseason, the Giants had suffered five straight losing seasons and had just four wins in 2021. ... New York RB Saquon Barkley, one of two Giants selected to the Pro Bowl along with DT Dexter Lawrence, had five receptions for 56 yards against the Vikings as the Giants featured their passing attack against Minnesota’s defense. Barkley ran for two scores but had just nine carries. In the regular season, Barkley rushed for a career-high 1,312 yards with 10 touchdowns. ... Jackson returned after a seven-game absence because of a knee injury and provided primary coverage on WR Justin Jefferson, helping the Giants hold the NFL’s leading receiver to just 47 yards on seven catches. Jackson likely will get another tough assignment this week against Philadelphia’s A.J. Brown, a second-team All-Pro selection who set a single-season franchise record with 1,496 receiving yards. ... New York will be looking for similar offensive production this week out of Hodgins, who had eight catches for 105 yards and a TD against Minnesota. ... Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale’s pressure defense is anchored up front by Lawrence, who had six tackles against the Vikings and finished with a team-leading 7½ sacks in the regular season, and rookie LB Kayvon Thibodeaux. ... The four-time Super Bowl champion Giants have lost nine straight games in Philadelphia, with their 15-7 victory on Oct. 27, 2013, their most recent win there. ... Philadelphia earned the No. 1 NFC seed for the fifth time, with their most recent occurrence in 2017 culminating with a Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots on Feb. 4, 2018. ... WR DeVonta Smith finished with 1,196 receiving yards, giving Philadelphia a receiving duo that each topped 1,000 yards for the first time in club history. ... CB C.J. Gardner-Johnson leads the Eagles with six interceptions. He played in the regular-season finale in his first game back since suffering a lacerated kidney against Green Bay on Nov. 27. ... Philadelphia, led by Sirianni in his second year at the helm, set franchise marks for points (477), total touchdowns (59) and rushing touchdowns (32) this season. ... Miles Sanders ran for a career-high 1,269 yards this season.
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