Respect to New York, but We’re Not Talking Ourselves into the Giants Winning this Game

Photo Credit: Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports

You gotta give Brian Daboll and his coaching staff a ton of credit. The job they’ve done with this Giants team is nothing short of phenomenal in year #1, putting them way ahead of schedule in the post-Joe Judge, post-Pat Shurmur, post-SPAGS, post Ben McAdoo era. After five straight losing seasons, the Giants pull off a wild card upset, with Wink Martindale running a respectable defense and legendary Eagles quarterback Mike Kafka turning Daniel Jones into a legitimate signal caller. That might be the greatest accomplishment for this coaching staff, which should win a collective award for turning this sorry group of losers into a quality playoff team.

Nevertheless, the divisional round spread opened with the Eagles as a seven and a half point favorite, because Vegas knows what’s up. They see an overachieving Giants team squaring off against a #1 seed with more talent, more playoff experience, and home field advantage. There’s an MVP candidate running the Eagles offense. The Pro Bowl right tackle is coming back. 80% of the defensive backfield will be healthy. Vegas throws out the meaningless week 18 game between a banged-up Jalen Hurts and the New York back ups, and looks at a week 14 game where the Eagles hung 48 on the Giants in The Meadowlands.

Consider that:

  • Tyrod Taylor was New York’s leading rusher in that game
  • Saquon Barkley was held to a 3.1 yard average on nine carries
  • Jones ran it only four times for 26 yards, scoring on a QB sneak
  • the Giants were down 21-0 before their special teams unit blocked a punt in the Eagles’ end zone and set up their offense on the 15 yard line
  • it was 48-14 before a garbage time touchdown and two point conversion
  • only one Giants receiver went above 50 yards
  • Jones threw for 169
  • Miles Sanders had his best game of the year, going for 144 on the ground with two scores on 17 carries
  • Jalen Hurts added 77 yards and a score on seven carries

It really was not competitive. New York couldn’t stop anything on the ground and didn’t do much better against the pass, while the Eagles defense forced four-straight punts before the short-field situation helped New York get on the board.

One of the things that helps the Eagles not-totally-healthy offense is that the Giants are a middle of the pack QB pressure team, despite blitzing at a league-high 41.1% this season. Even though Martindale is typically attacking from all angles, the Giants finished 13th in sacks, 8th in QB hits, and 10th in hurries. Their defensive pressure percentage, a combination of all three stats, ranked 6th, at 24.1%, but the Eagles were #1 in that category (24.9) and had more sacks, hits, and hurries despite being the NFL’s #18 blitzing team and playing much more zone than man. New York has one defensive Pro Bowler in Dexter Lawrence and a bunch of regular guys on the back end. Kayvon Thibodeaux is a rookie. They’ve got some pieces but are missing the horses to keep up with A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert, who didn’t even play in the first game.

The main advantage New York has is that they’re under absolutely zero pressure going into Lincoln Financial Field. Their season is already a success. The coaches and players will never say that publicly, but they’re not dumb, so you know they’re thinking it. If they get an early score or a turnover and can limit the crowd factor and find their way into the game, then it could get interesting. They started strong against Minnesota and then got the job done with a couple of stops, so they really carried that momentum throughout and didn’t look at all fazed by the moment.

No disrespect to the Giants, for real. They’ve had a great season. That coaching staff is top notch and when GM Joe Schoen starts to bolster that roster, they’ll be a pain in the ass in the division. This weekend, however, the Eagles are the better team. They have home field advantage and more talent across the board. We’d be naive to think they’re gonna run away with this one, but they should handle business at home against the six seed. We’re not talking ourselves into the Giants winning this game.