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January 19, 2023

Eagles vs. Giants: Five matchups to watch, when the Giants have the ball

Eagles NFL
011923HaasonReddick Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports

Eagles LB Haason Reddick has a chance to wreck the game against Giants RT Evan Neal.

The Philadelphia Eagles will face a familiar foe in the New York Giants on Saturday, and they're especially familiar this year since it will be the two teams' third matchup in 42 days.

Normally, we point out five matchups to watch between the Eagles and their upcoming opponent during the regular season. But this is the playoffs, baby, so let's do five matchups on each side of the ball. We started with the Eagles' offense vs. the Giants' defense earlier this morning. Here we'll look at the Giants' offense vs. the Eagles' defense.

1) The Eagles' run defense vs. the Giants' rushing attack

Offensively, the Giants are a run-first team.

Giants rushing offense Stat NFL rank 
Rushing attempt 520 
Rushing yards 2519 
Yards per rush 4.8 
Rushing TDs 21 
Rushing first downs 150 
Percentage of rushes resulting in first down 28.8% 
Rushing DVOA 
Rushing EPA/play  
 Run play percentage47.5% 10 

Part of that is because they employ Saquon Barkley at running back, and part of that is because Daniel Jones is a good runner.

Barkley rushed 295 times in 2022 for 1312 yards (4.4 YPC) and 10 TDs. His 2022 season can be told in three parts.

  1. When the Giants got out to a hot 7-2 start this season, Barkley was the focus of the offense, as he had 227 touches, or 25.2 touches per game, including a a 35-carry game against the Texans Week 10. 
  2. The next four games — a stretch during which the Giants went 0-3-1 — Barkley dealt with some injuries and did not look like the same player, perhaps due to over-usage.
  3. And finally, in his last four games, Barkley has had a more reasonable workload, and he has looked more like the explosive player that he can be when he is at his best.

Those three parts, in chart form:

Saquon Barkley Rushes Yards YPC TD 
First 9 games 198 931 4.7 
Next 4 games 53 152 2.9 
Last 4 games 53 282 5.3 

Barkley is the Giants' most dangerous offensive weapon by far, and should be the focus of the Eagles' defense.

As for Jones, he was fifth in rushing yardage among quarterbacks in 2022:

 QBRush Yards YPC TD 
 Justin Fields, Bears160 1143 7.1 
Lamar Jackson, Ravens 112 764 6.8 
Josh Allen, Bills 124 762 6.1 
Jalen Hurts, Eagles 165 760 4.6 13 
Daniel Jones, Giants 120 708 5.9 

After Jones, there was a huge dropoff to the Falcons' Marcus Mariota, who had 438 rushing yards.

The Eagles' defense, meanwhile, faced seven of the top 11 rushers this season, a list that includes Barkley, Derrick Henry, Dalvin Cook, Justin Fields, Travis Etienne, Aaron Jones, and Jamaal Williams. They mostly did a good job against those players, and would be smart to prioritize keeping the Giants from getting their rushing attack going on Saturday.

2) Giants QB Daniel Jones (as a passer) vs. Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon

Daniel Jones was a turnover machine the first couple years of his career, but has protected the ball far better over the last two. He even had the lowest INT percentage in the NFL this season, at 1.1 percent. However, his improved ball security has come at a cost.

According to the NFL’s NextGen stats, Jones was the most conservative quarterback in the NFL in “intended average air yards,” at 6.3 yards through the air per throw, and “air yards to the sticks.” On average his passes landed 2.8 yards short of the sticks. The Giants' offense didn’t hit big plays in the passing game in 2022. They had 28 pass plays of 20+ yards, fewest in the NFL. For comparative purposes, the Eagles had 63. The league average was 49.

In the Giants' win over the Vikings on Sunday, many felt that Jones had his best game of the season, as he completed 24 of 35 passes for 301 yards, 2 TDs, and 0 INTs, for a QB rating of 114.1. In that game, he didn't attempt a single pass more than 20 yards down the field, and he only attempted four passes more than 10 yards down the field.


Of course, the Eagles defense under Jonathan Gannon has been at its worst when it has been picked apart underneath on high percentage throws by opposing passers. The Eagles must seek to take those throws away on Saturday night, and almost dare Jones to take more risks with the football.

3) The Giants' wide receivers vs. the Eagles' secondary

Here are the Giants' wide receivers' stats this season:

Giants WRs Rec Yards YPC TD 
Darius Slayton 46 724 15.7 
Richie James 57 569 10.0 
 Isaiah Hodgins33 351 10.6 
Wan'Dale Robinson 23 227 9.9 
Sterling Shepard 13 154 11.8 
David Sills 11 106 9.6 
Marcus Johnson 99 11.0 
Kenny Golladay 81 13.5 
Kadarius Toney (while w/NYG) 0.0 

The Giants lost Robinson, Shepard, and Collin Johnson (during training camp) for the season due to injuries, and they traded away Toney. The most dangerous player who is left standing is Slayton, who has some down-the-field ability, as the Eagles have learned in the past. He has 12 of the Giants' 28 receptions of 20+ yards, and three of their five receptions of 40+ yards.

This is not a very threatening group, and likely a big reason the Giants play such a conservative blend of offensive football. In Week 14, the Eagles were without both Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and Avonte Maddox, and they handled the Giants' receivers. Maddox likely won't be back for this matchup, but Gardner-Johnson will.

In his return to the field Week 18, Gardner-Johnson played safety in the Eagles' base defense, but moved to the slot in nickel with Reed Blankenship filling in at safety. I would expect that to continue on Saturday.

4) Where might the Eagles go feastin'?

The Giants' offensive line looks like this:

Andrew Thomas Nick Gates Jon Feliciano Mark Glowinski Evan Neal 

They made strides in 2022. Thomas made his first Pro Bowl, and the line as a whole was at least respectable, whereas in past years it was often an abomination. Neal is the Giants' biggest concern, at RT. While he has high upside as the seventh overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, he was a major liability as a rookie, and there is opportunity for Haason Reddick and Brandon Graham to wreck this game. The three interior guys are exactly that... just guys. 

The Eagles sacked Giants quarterbacks seven times Week 14:

#FeastinMeter: 🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗

5) And then there's K Graham Gano

The Giants have a great long-distance kicker in Gano, who plays in a cold weather stadium and is 8/9 from beyond 50 this season, and who also has a career long of 63 yards. He is a weapon, and the Eagles should be mindful of that in some situational moments on defense, particularly at the end of the half and the end of the game. The outer edge of the Giants' target line for an end of half field goal is probably around the 40 yard line, whereas it's probably a little closer in for some other teams.

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