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January 16, 2023

How worried should the Eagles be about facing the Giants again?

10 factors to keep an eye on

The Eagles are touchdown favorites against the Giants this week, who will come to town for the NFC East rivals' rare third meeting this season.

The divisional round is set to kick off Saturday evening, which gives us an entire week to anticipate the Eagles returning to the field, looking to protect their No. 1 seed and home-field advantage.

They've handled the Giants twice this year already — once in a massive blowout in December, and once in excruciating fashion against New York's backups in Week 18. The Giants are probably the best-case scenario for Philly in the Divisional Round of the 2023 postseason, as they'll also avoid the more talented Buccaneers and Cowboys.

Could this be a 'careful with you wish for' scenario? Or are the Giants really not a threat to the Eagles' Super Bowl hopes?

Here's a list of 10 things to worry about (or not worry about) as the matchup approaches:

Not worried

The Giants don't really go downfield

During the regular season, the Giants averaged just 6.6 yards per pass attempt and 9.9 yards per completion (both numbers well lower than the Eagles' 8.1 per attempt and 12.5 per completion). They really don't have much of a downfield threat, nor do they have a standout receiver that could give the Eagles fits.

Darius Slayton is the closest they have, leading the Giants with 724 yards. Richie James led the team with 57 catches. They're the only two receivers north of 500 receiving yards. As a ball club, they have just 16 passes of 25 or more yards, last in the NFL (the Eagles are second with 38). 

The Eagles can struggle with thin cornerback reserves and Darius Slay looking human of late. The weak Giants passing game matches favorably with the Eagles' ball-hawk secondary.

Their run D isn't good

Only one team in the NFL allowed more yards per carry (5.2) than the Giants and only five allowed more rushing yards in total. The Eagles are one of the best running offenses in the game when Jalen Hurts is healthy, and his ability to scramble and execute designed runs might be the thing that puts them over the top. 

In their December 11th meeting, Philly ran for 235 yards, with Miles Sanders gaining 144 and Hurts rushing for another 77. And don't forget Boston Scott, who has 87 rushing yards and a pair of TDs in two games against New York this season.

They're not efficient

It hasn't been talked about a lot this season, but the Eagles have been pretty darn efficient on third and fourth downs. The Giants, not so much. If Jonathan Gannon's defense can keep the Giants in front of them in these critical situations — without much to worry about in the deep passing game — the Eagles could control the ball in this one.

3rd down %45.9% (4th)36.8% (22nd)
4th down %68.8% (4th)
47.6% (21st)
4th down conversions 21 (2nd)10 (21st)

They can be sacked

The Giants have given up 49 sacks this season — 5th most of any team. The Eagles have sacked opposing QBs 70 times this season — the most by a wide margin. If the Eagles can win in the trenches they can run away with this thing.

Somewhat worried

The Giants can run the football

It is hard to top the Eagles' ground game accomplishments from the regular season and the Giants fall short of that. However, they do have the fourth most rushing yards in 2022 (10 more than the Eagles), the fourth most running TDs (11 less than the Eagles) and gain 4.8 yards per carry, a top-five number. 

New York averaged 126 yards on the ground in their two games vs. the Eagles, more than 20 less than their season average. Philly allows 120.1 yards per game on the ground, in the dead middle of the pack (16th overall).

Saquan Barkley and Daniel Jones

There are really two players to fear on the Giants' roster. The first is pretty obvious — Barkley is one of the most talented running backs in football and is coming off a 1,312-yard rushing campaign with 10 touchdowns.

Second on the team in rushing yards? Well, that would be Jones, who ran for 708 yards and eight touchdowns in a sleepy good season both through the air and on the ground. Jones' stats very near mimic those of Hurts, and as such, they might not need a scout team this week in practice. Here are the two QBs' stats compared:

Rush yards760708
Rush TD138
Completion %66.3%67.2%
Passing yards3,7013,205

Jones was 18-for-27 for 169 yards and was sacked four times in his only start against Philadelphia this year. He had a rushing score but only ran four times for 26 yards.

No team blitzes more

The Giants blitzed the quarterback 253 times during the regular season, or 39.7% of snaps — more than any other defense. With a full-strength Hurts, this probably wouldn't be much of a concern, but if the Birds' QB1 is still less than 100% with his sprained shoulder, there could be problems, as they'll want him to protect himself more than they'll want him to take advantage of over pursuit. 

Very worried

The Giants don't turn it over

The Eagles created 27 turnovers during the regular season, the fourth most in football. The Giants only turned it over 16 times on offense this past season, the second-fewest in football. New York does a very good job of protecting the football and has thrown just six interceptions — the least in the NFL — while the Eagles, obviously, have done the most damage when winning the turnover battle. New York turns it over 7.3% of the time, the lowest rate of all 32 teams.

For what it's worth, in two meetings (both Philly wins), the Eagles and Giants each turned the ball over exactly one time combined.

They have great D on third town

We did a whole song and dance above about how the Giants are pretty mundane on third and fourth downs — with the football — so we should also acknowledge that when they are on the defensive side of the ball, they are the fifth-best in the NFL at getting off the field.

In 2022, New York allowed just 35.1% of third downs to be converted, the best of any remaining team in the playoffs. They allowed only 72 total third-down conversions, second of any team. They also have the fifth-best red zone defense, allowing touchdowns less than 50% of the time

It's hard to beat a team three times

The 49ers beat the Seahawks this weekend, becoming only the 15th team since 1970 to beat an opponent three times (twice in the regular season and then again in the playoffs). The Eagles are looking to become the 16th. Interestingly, their home-field advantage is in play historically, as 13 of those 15 three-peats have come with the sweeping team at home in the postseason.

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