After a long and challenging season, the Giants are entering the final stretch.
With five games remaining, Brian Daboll's squad sits at 7-4-1 and firmly in the NFC Wild Card race. They are halfway through a difficult stretch of four consecutive games against the NFC East, with this weekend's matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles and next week's rematch against the Washington Commanders still to come.
The Eagles are coming off an impressive 35-10 win over the Tennessee Titans, a game that saw Philadelphia gain more than twice as many yards as the Titans (453-209). Nick Sirianni has his team sitting atop the league with an 11-1 record and riding a three-game winning streak.
Here are five storylines to follow in the Week 14 matchup between the division rivals:
1. Getting back on track
The Giants opened the season with six wins in their first seven games. However, as coach Daboll has said at numerous points throughout the year, the season is like a roller coaster. You can't get too high with the highs, and you can't get too low with the lows. Since starting 6-1, the Giants have won just one of their last five games, with the offense topping 20 points only once and the defense allowing three opponents to reach 27. Despite the recent stretch, Daboll is making sure his team remains focused on the task at hand.
"Well, adversity and criticism come with the territory," the head coach told reporters on Monday. "I've been in, not this seat as a head coach, but a coordinator for a long time, and it's a popular game followed by a lot of people. And I appreciate the support. You also appreciate the negativity or criticism. If you want to be mentally tough and strong, this is the sport to be in, whether you're a coach, whether you're a player. And really, you can't focus too much on that. You appreciate it. I think we're all thankful for the support you get, but you just get back to work. There's adversity after every loss, sometimes there's adversity after a win. We've talked about that since probably April. There's going to be ups and downs, and to stay mentally strong and focused on the task at hand, that's not an easy thing to do all the time. But you need to do it.
"It's a week-to-week league, so have we got the results we wanted? Absolutely not. Have we prepared, worked and done the right things to give ourselves a chance? We have. We just haven't finished; we haven't done enough to win those games. I was proud of the team yesterday for the way they competed, losing two in a row and you're down 10-0 right away. So, the focus for us will always be on us and improving the things we need to improve from each individual, starting with me, all the way down to the team. That's, to me, the only way you know how to coach and work in this business."
2. Tough matchup for DJ & the offense
Daniel Jones is coming off one of his most efficient outings of the season against the Commanders. Jones completed 80.7 percent of his passes for 200 yards and a touchdown (and a passer rating of 104.3). It was his second game this season finishing with a completion percentage over 80 (Week 1 vs. Titans), his fifth with a rating over 100 and his third consecutive game with at least 200 passing yards. Jones is averaging 256.3 passing yards per game over the past three weeks with a touchdown pass in each outing.
Jones is also enjoying the most productive season of his career as a runner. Going up against Washington's strong run defense, the fourth-year quarterback carried the ball a career-high 12 times and gained 71 yards (5.9 avg.). With five games remaining, Jones has already set career-marks in rush attempts (91), yards (522), yards per game (43.5) and touchdowns (four).
After facing a tough matchup last week, Jones and the offense will go up against an even more difficult challenge this week in the Eagles. Coming into Week 14, Philadelphia's defense ranks seventh in points and second in yards allowed. They have the top passing defense in the NFL, surrendering just 178.5 passing yards per game, while their 15 interceptions lead the league. The unit has allowed only one opposing team to throw for over 185 yards over the past seven games (Packers QBs Aaron Rodgers and Jordan Love combined for 236 yards) while no team has thrown for more than 239 yards against them. Last week's win over the Tennessee Titans was the first game this season in which the defense did not force a turnover.
Philadelphia has talent all across their defense, starting up front. They have five players with five or more sacks – Haason Reddick (9.0), Javon Hargrave (8.0), Josh Sweat (6.5), Brandon Graham (5.5) and Fletcher Cox (5.0). Those five have also combined for seven forced fumbles. In the secondary, safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, who leads the team with six interceptions, is on injured reserve. However, cornerbacks Darius Slay and James Bradberry have three interceptions apiece to go with 24 combined pass breakups.
"Both those guys Bradberry and Slay are really good corners," Daboll said Wednesday. "They can play zone, they can play man, they're experienced. I think they read routes well. They're two hard guys outside to throw the ball against."
3. Slowing down Eagles' run game
As great as their defense has been, Philadelphia's offense has been even better. The Eagles rank in the top 5 in most offensive categories, including points (second) and yards (third). The unit has also done an amazing job of converting in clutch situations. Through 12 games, Philadelphia ranks fourth in third-down conversions (45.8 percent) and second in fourth-down success (75.0 percent), in addition to scoring a touchdown on 73.8 percent of their trips inside the red zone, the second-best mark in the league.
Although the offense has done a great job of staying balanced throughout the season, their run game has been their biggest strength. The Eagles have registered the second-most rush attempts in the league, which has helped them average 154.6 yards (fifth) while their 23 rushing touchdowns is four more than any other team. Miles Sanders is the team's leading rusher with 924 yards and nine touchdowns. The veteran back has been an efficient runner, averaging 4.9 yards per carry and 77.0 yards per game.
You also can't overlook the abilities of quarterback Jalen Hurts as a runner. The third-year QB has matched Sanders with nine rushing touchdowns in addition to 609 yards on the ground (4.6 avg.). He has found the end zone as a rusher in seven of 12 games this year.
View rare photos of the historic rivalry between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles.
4. Limiting Jalen Hurts
Hurts has also been tremendous throwing the ball. The 24-year-old has taken a significant jump in his development this season. After completing 61.3 percent of his passes in 2021, Hurts has his completion percentage up to 68.1 percent, tied for the third-highest in the NFL. He has totaled 2,940 yards in the air, just 204 yards less than he had all of last season, to go with his 20 touchdowns and three interceptions. The three picks are tied with Tom Brady for the fewest among starting quarterbacks this season.
Hurts has gained 3,379 yards of total offense this season, the fourth-highest in the NFL behind Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen and Joe Burrow. His outstanding play throughout the first three months, which includes nearly 300 yards of total offense per game and a passer rating of 108.3, has led to Hurts being firmly in the discussion for the league's Most Valuable Player award.
"I've got a lot of respect for Jalen," said Daboll, who won a national championship with Hurts while serving as offensive coordinator at Alabama in 2017. "Tremendous person first and foremost. Highly competitive, extremely smart, great leader, (it's) the reason why he's probably at the top of the list for MVP right now. Playing with a great team, you can go on and on about Jalen. He means a lot to me...
"He's as competitive and mentally tough as I've ever been around. He's a great teammate. Unfortunately, we have to play them twice a year, very happy for the success that he's had. Again, he's a special young man to me, and he's just a mentally tough guy. Nothing rattles him, he doesn't get rattled. So, he had this happen, this happens, he doesn't worry about all that stuff. He just focuses on what he needs to focus on, the short time I was around him. I haven't been around him for five years or whatever it is. But just as a young college person, you have a great appreciation for his mental toughness, his competitive stamina, and his leadership."
Between his arm and legs, Hurts has multiple touchdowns in each of his last seven games, including six games with 2+ passing touchdowns. He also has one of the league's most talented wide receiver duos in the form of A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. Both receivers have registered 61 receptions this season, with Brown racking up 950 yards and nine touchdowns and Smith totaling 711 yards and four scores.
"Strong, excellent hands, can make contested catches, run after catch, a complete receiver," Daboll said about Brown. "He was that way in Tennessee and he's certainly that way now. Him and Jalen have a pretty special relationship. I'd say that they knew each other in college and there's a lot of familiarity there with Jalen, Brown and DeVonta and you can tell. It's paid off."
5. Injury updates; Leo sits out practice
The Giants had just four players not participating in practice on Wednesday due to injuries. Cornerback Adoree' Jackson is still recovering from his knee injury suffered in Week 11, while offensive linemen Joshua Ezeudu (neck) and Shane Lemieux (toe) are dealing with their respective aiments. Additionally, defensive lineman Leonard Williams, who departed Sunday's game against the Commanders with a neck injury, did not practice.
Three other names were listed on the injury report Wednesday, but not due to injury. Defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence, safety Julian Love and guard Mark Glowinski were given the day off from practice to rest.
After being designated to return last Monday, guard Ben Bredeson was once again back on the practice field. Bredeson is still working his way back from the knee injury suffered in Week 7, and Daboll told the media it's too early to tell if the lineman will be back this week.
"I think he's better than he was last week," the head coach said about Bredeson. "Last week leading into the week, I was kind of uncertain then we watched him practice. Figured give him another week, maybe another week after that but we'll see where he's at today."
Additionally, Daboll expressed doubt about the possibility of safety Xavier McKinney returning this week.