January 06, 2023
For the third straight week, the Philadelphia Eagles can clinch the 1 seed in the NFC with a win, thus earning a first-round bye as well as homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. They came up short against the Cowboys in Dallas Week 16, and then again at home against the New Orleans Saints Week 17.
Because they built up a 13-1 record over their first 14 games, the Eagles had a comfortable cushion between themselves and their NFC rivals, but they no longer have any margin for error heading into their final game, as a loss would likely knock them out of the top spot in the NFC, and even cost them an NFC East title. Luckily for the Birds, their Week 18 opponent, the New York Giants, is locked into the 6 seed in the NFC, and will likely be resting their starters for the playoffs.
Giants head coach Brian Daboll said on Thursday that the team will not make final playing time decisions against the Eagles until Friday night. Of course, by the time Friday night rolls around, Daboll won't have media availability until after the game is in the books, making that a convenient time to claim that those decisions will be made. More likely, the Giants decided days ago who will play on Sunday for the Giants, and how much they'll play.
It appears as though some of their best players will get some added rest. Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News hinted strongly at the Giants resting starters:
What I just saw at practice confirms for me that Giants will likely rest several starters vs. Eagles. Will cover it in today's Daily News— Pat Leonard (@PLeonardNYDN) January 5, 2023
Leonard expanded on that sentiment in an article:
But it appears to be trending toward several starters resting, including banged-up starters like [DL Leonard] Williams (neck) and healthy players, too...
By rule, the media is not allowed to report on specific personnel deployment at practice.
Candidates to play either a little bit or not at all, though, include players such as quarterback Daniel Jones, running back Saquon Barkley, left tackle Andrew Thomas, center Jon Feliciano, right guard Mark Glowinski, defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence and inside linebacker Jaylon Smith, just to name a handful.
I'll also add LB Azeez Ojulari (ankle), who has not yet practiced this week, to that list, as well as CB Adoree Jackson (knee), who was limited on Wednesday and Thursday.
Several other Giants beat writers have indicated that the Giants will likely rest starters as well, Like Jordan Raanan of ESPN, Dan Duggan of The Athletic, and Art Stapleton of NorthJersey.com, to name a few.
"We're all preparing for the starters, no question about it, and then adjust off that," Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen said. "It's an NFL football game, and no matter who they put out there, we have to go operate. I've been a part of games where you go in and some teams don't play their guys, and some teams will walk in and are like, oh, we're going to beat them because they're not playing their starters. Then next thing you know you lose. I’ve seen it happen before. Our mindset has got to be the same no matter who is on that field playing for them. We're preparing for their starters, and we have to be locked in ready to go. Everything we do, we have to do we a sense of urgency and a sense of purpose this week."
Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon echoed that sentiment.
"We're preparing like they're playing everybody, and then you have to be able to adjust with who’s out there, with who’s playing," Gannon said. "But, ultimately, it's really — that's what we always say in our room. It's really about us. The execution and how we play, and then knowing that with other guys that you’re playing, who they have out there, what their skill sets are and what kind of calls we need to get to versus different people that try to defend them the best way. But our guys are focused on what we need to do as a defense to play good, clean football and give ourselves a chance to win."
Of course, Nick Sirianni and the Eagles have decisions to make on their own players, most notably quarterback Jalen Hurts, who was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday and Thursday. Hurts did get in some work throwing the ball during the media-attended open portion of practice on Thursday.
The Eagles blew out the Giants by a final of 48-22 in New Jersey 26 days ago, when both teams were closer to full strength.
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