Our NFL experts predict, pick and preview the NFC Divisional Playoff game between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles with kickoff time, TV channel and spread.
The third meeting this season between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles takes on extra meaning with a trip to the NFC Championship Game on the line Saturday night. Philly won both regular-season meetings, blowing out New York 48-22 on the road in Week 14 and 22-16 at home just two weeks ago. The first matchup featured both teams pretty much at full strength, and the Eagles rushed for 253 rushing yards and four touchdowns on their way to an easy victory. The Giants rested most of their starters for the regular season finale but still nearly won thanks to great red zone defense.
New York advanced to the Divisional Round following a 31-24 win over NFC North champion Minnesota last Sunday. The underdog Giants were led by Daniel Jones, who made history in his first-ever postseason start. Jones became the first quarterback to finish a playoff game with at least 300 passing yards, 75 rushing, and two touchdowns. More importantly, Jones didn't turn the ball over against the Vikings. The defense also did its part, limiting Justin Jefferson to just 47 yards on seven catches and holding Minnesota to less than four yards per carry.
Philadelphia is coming off of a bye, meaning the last time the Eagles were on the field was in that 22-16 win over the Giants at home in Week 18. It was Jalen Hurts' first game after missing the previous two because of a shoulder injury. He went 20-of-35 for 229 yards and an interception while adding 13 yards on nine carries. It certainly wasn't Philly's best effort on either side of the ball, as a New York offense led by backup quarterback Davis Webb almost came away with the road upset. It will be interesting to see if the Eagles show any rust or are out of sync to start the game on Sunday.
Overall, Philadephia has won three in a row over its longtime NFC East rivals and nine straight at home. This will be the fifth playoff meeting between these teams, with the Eagles winning the last two matchups. The most recent postseason encounter was in the Divisional Round of the 2008-09 season. Philadephia won 23-11 in the Meadowlands as Donovan McNabb outplayed Eli Manning.
NFC Divisional Playoff: New York (9-7-1) at Philadelphia (14-3)
Kickoff: Saturday, Jan. 21 at 8:15 p.m. ET
Live Stream: fuboTV (Start your free trial)
Spread: Eagles -7.5
Tickets: As low as $300 on SITickets.com*
Three Things to Watch
1. Quarterbacks in a rush?
Both of these quarterbacks have a lot of mobility, and the team that handles it the best will win on Saturday. Daniel Jones has led the Giants in rushing four times already this season and has enjoyed previous success on the ground against Philadelphia. In the first meeting this season, Jones ran one in for a touchdown. The Eagles allowed the fourth-most rushing yards per game to quarterbacks during the regular season with Jones and his backup Davis Webb, accounting for the only two rushing touchdowns scored by signal-callers. Philly is going to have to use a mush rush to keep Jones from getting outside the pocket while also paying plenty of attention to Saquon Barkley. Jones may have led New York in rushing in the Wild Card Round win over Minnesota, but Barkley put up more than 100 yards from scrimmage (56 receiving, 53 rushing) while averaging 5.9 yards per carry and scoring twice on the ground. He was not that effective in the first matchup against the Eagles (28 rushing yards on nine carries) and sat out the regular-season finale, but he was fourth in the league in rushing this season (1,312 yards) and remains a threat to break off a big play anytime the ball is in his hands.
2. How Hurts is Jalen?
As effective as Jones has been on the ground, Hurts has been even more dangerous for Philadelphia. His 13 rushing touchdowns tied him for second overall in the NFL, and he finished third among quarterbacks (and tied for 35th overall) with 760 rushing yards. He also did this in 15 games because of the two he missed with the shoulder injury. He returned for the regular-season finale against the Giants and seemed rusty, completing 57 percent of his passes with an interception. He also wasn't aggressive at all as a runner, sliding early to avoid any unnecessary contact. He's had even more time to rest the ailing shoulder and everyone on the team is saying the right things about his health. But how much of it is a smoke screen and how much of it is the truth?
Hurts' dual-threat ability was one of the things that made the Eagles' offense so dangerous this season, but if he's limited in that respect, it will make things easier for New York's defense. In the first meeting, when Hurts was healthier and had his full complement of weapons around him, he totaled three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) and nearly 300 yards (217 passing, 77 rushing) in the 48-22 rout. If he's not going to be able to threaten the Giants with his legs, that puts more pressure on Miles Sanders to be the main ball carrier and to open up the play-action passing game. Fortunately for the Eagles, Sanders had his best outing against New York in the first matchup (144 yds., 2 TDs), but the Giants fared well very against the run last week, limiting Dalvin Cook to 60 yards on 15 carries with a long of 11.
3. The wild cards
Even though this will be the third meeting between these teams, this will be the first time the Eagles' offense will have to deal with a Giants' defense that has Leonard Williams up front and Adoree' Jackson on the back end together. Both defenders missed both regular-season meetings against Philadelphia due to injuries. Jackson is of particular importance because his presence gives New York another solid cover corner to help contain A.J. Brown or DeVonta Smith. Williams provides a big boost for the Giants' defensive front, which will be needed going up against arguably the best offensive line in the NFL. Meanwhile, one Eagle who usually saves his best for the Giants is little-used running back Boston Scott. He has 17 touchdowns in his career (60 games), and 10 of those have come against New York. He has scored at least once in each of his eight games against the Giants. If Scott can continue this trend to complement Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell in the backfield, that will likely lead to a good outcome for the home team.
A lot depends on the health of Philadelphia's MVP candidate. If Hurts is close to 100 percent and running the ball often, then the Eagles' offense becomes really tough to stop. We may know early how this game will go as Philly has the best first-half offense in the NFL so this team loves to start fast. In the end, this is the third time these teams have faced each other, and in a span of fewer than 45 days no less. have each other. I think the home team wins, but not without some difficult moments.
Prediction: Eagles 24, Giants 20
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.
*Price as of publication.