A 31-24 “upset” over defensively-challenged Minnesota will give the surprising New York Giants another opportunity at the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
The Giants will visit Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday night in an attempt to knock off the heavily-favored Eagles. The odds are long for fledgling New York in what will be its third consecutive road game on a short week against a well-rested Philadelphia club that’s been off since the Jan. 8 regular-season finale 22-16 win over these same Giants, which clinched the NFC East and the No. 1 seed for the Eagles.
The trope of it being difficult to beat a team three consecutive times in a season is a myth, particularly when the team that is 2-0 has the postseason game at home. Since the Super Bowl era began, home teams like the Eagles are this week finished off the sweep 13 of 19 times, a gaudy .684 winning percentage.
While New York didn’t play its key players in Week 18, cognizant that its first-round opponent would likely be the Vikings and their 31st-ranked defense, too much is made of the final score of 22-16. The Eagles, who played their starters, including a banged-up Jalen Hurts, got out to a 19-0 lead while dropping three potential interceptions.
Back on Dec. 11 at MetLife Stadium when it was starters vs. starters, Philadelphia, which scored three touchdowns on its first three possessions, routed the Giants 48-22.
It was so bad New York pulled Daniel Jones for Tyrod Taylor and the Eagles sacked both QBs a total of seven times, three of those by Brandon Graham.
The Eagles were instilled as a 7.5-point favorite by most betting markets and that number could go down after the Giants’ impressive performance against the Vikings.
Philadelphia’s biggest hurdles involve the health of Jalen Hurts (shoulder) and Lane Johnson (torn groin muscle). Neither is expected to be 100% the rest of the way and Johnson has confirmed he will undergo surgery after the season end.
The key with Hurts is the zone-read mechanics that the offense relies upon. If the Eagles try to get by without them to protect the QB against the expected blitz-heavy defense by Wink Martindale that will make things far muddier for the offense.
As far as Martindale, he surprised most with heavy zone coverage against the Vikings because of the presence of Justin Jefferson. That doesn’t figure to be the case with Hurts dealing with the painful SC joint shoulder sprain because the Giants defense will want to try to make the All-Pro as uncomfortable as possible.