The Giants were able to avenge their Christmas Eve loss in Minnesota with a big win over the Vikings on Sunday. Now, they will get the opportunity to do the same in Philadelphia.
Just two weeks after the regular-season finale which saw the Giants' reserves battle it out with the Eagles starters, the two teams will meet again for the third time this year. Philadelphia pulled out the close victory in Week 18, 22-16, in what was Davis Webb's first career start. The win clinched them the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye.
Every player took part in the team's walk-through practice on Tuesday. Outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari, who left Sunday's win with a quad injury, was listed as a limited participant. So was inside linebacker Landon Collins (ankle), wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins (ankle), cornerback Adoree' Jackson (back), safety Julian Love (hamstring), and cornerback Fabian Moreau (hip). Safety Jason Pinnock, who was ruled out of the win in Minnesota with an injury to his abdomen, was listed as a full participant after coach Brian Daboll told the media the defensive back "turned a corner pretty quick." Practice participation was an estimation on the injury report due to it being a walk-through.
Here are five storylines to follow in the Divisional Round matchup.
1. Giants vs. Eagles Round Three
As coach Brian Daboll brought up in Tuesday's media session, the Giants have faced only four teams since their Week 13 game against Washington on Dec. 4. During that stretch, they've had two matchups against the Commanders, two against the Eagles, and two against the Vikings, along with one game against the Colts. In each of those second meetings, the Giants saw much better results. They went 2-1 in those three outings, with the one loss coming in the regular-season finale that saw the Giants rest almost all of their starters and still only lose to the No. 1 seed Eagles by six points.
The Giants have been provided the rare opportunity of getting to face a team for a third time in a season. After facing a 19-0 deficit late in the third quarter of Week 18 in Philadelphia, Davis Webb helped the Giants mount a comeback to bring it to 22-16 before the Eagles sealed the victory. For for the second time this season, the Giants will play the same team twice within three games, with the opponent having the week off in between. After tying the Washington Commanders in Week 13, the Giants went on the road two weeks later for a rematch against their division rival. The Commanders had off in Week 14, but the extra rest didn't seem to help as the Giants prevailed, 20-12.
"Washington, we played each other pretty quickly," Daboll said about facing the Eagles again. "Minnesota. I think December, we played four teams. We played Washington, Philly, Minnesota and the Colts, I think. So, we've had some time that was close between each opponent. So, again, you watch the games. You do everything that you do each week to prepare for a team."
"I'm looking forward to the battle," defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence added. "The third time, just trying to come out with a different result this time."
2. DJ vs. Hurts
Daniel Jones has been playing perhaps the best football of his career over the last month. In his last three games, Jones has completed 72.3 percent of his passes (73 of 101) for 812 yards, five touchdowns and just one interception. He's also been a force as a runner, adding 203 rushing yards (6,3 avg.) and two touchdowns.
The fourth-year quarterback really stepped up in last weekend's Wild Card win over the Vikings. Playing in a loud and hostile environment, Jones kept his cool and calmly led the offense on five different scoring drives as the unit topped the 30-point mark for the second time in the past three games. Jones finished the game with 301 passing yards and two touchdowns for a passer rating of 114.1, in addition to 78 yards on a career-high 17 rush attempts.
"I thought we played well," Jones said about the offense's performance in Minnesota. "I thought we were able to run the ball well, we were efficient in the pass game. I thought the guys up front played a really good game, opened up a lot of stuff for us and we made some plays. Yeah, I think it was good. Still some things we can clean up and do better going forward."
Lining up under center for the Eagles will be Jalen Hurts, who last week was named second-team All-Pro for the first time in his career. Similar to Jones, Hurts is a dual-threat quarterback who can hurt opposing defenses with his arm and legs. In addition to throwing for 3,701 yards and 22 touchdowns in 15 games this season, Hurts also ran for 760 yards and 13 scores.
Although a shoulder injury sidelined him for two games at the end of the season, Hurts was able to return for the regular-season finale against the Giants. The 24-year-old completed just 57.1 percent of his passes that day for 229 yards with an interception while gaining only 13 yards on nine carries. However, the talented young quarterback is another two weeks removed from the shoulder sprain.
"I think you've got to prepare for everything," Daboll said about the Eagles quarterback. "(He's) a dynamic player. I've said this before, he can throw it, he can pass it. That's why he's up there for MVP. And we've got a big challenge ahead."
3. Adoree's boost to secondary
The Giants received a significant boost in the secondary this past weekend as Adoree' Jackson made his long-awaited return to the field. After injuring his knee while returning a punt against the Detroit Lions in Week 11, the veteran cornerback missed the final seven games of the regular season before returning against the Vikings. Jackson was not eased back into action, as he was on the field for 55 snaps, or 96 percent of the team's defensive plays.
Minnesota's Justin Jefferson was held to a mere seven receptions for 47 yards on Sunday, after catching 12 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown in the Christmas Eve matchup. According to Next Gen Stats, the three-time All-Pro wideout was covered by Jackson on 85 percent of his routes and caught only six passes for 37 yards on those plays.
Jackson will be faced with another challenging matchup this weekend as he faces off against second-team All-Pro wide receiver A.J. Brown. Philadelphia's top pass-catcher had four catches for 70 yards and a touchdown against the Giants in Week 14 before catching another four passes for 95 yards in the regular-season finale. Jackson was not on the field for either of those outings, but the two players are plenty familiar with each other. Jackson and Brown were teammates in Tennessee for two seasons before the cornerback signed with the Giants in the 2021 offseason. Saturday's contest will be the first time they go up against each other in an NFL game.
View rare photos of the Giants' Divisional Round playoff games through the years.
4. Saquon, receivers stepping up
Similar to Jones, Barkley has been playing some of his best football of the season in recent weeks. Barkley has averaged at least 4.8 yards per carry in each of his past four outings while finding the end zone a total of four times. The 25-year-old has also caught at least five passes in three of the last four games while totaling 138 receiving yards in those three contests.
The fifth-year running back didn't touch the ball a ton in Sunday's win over the Vikings, but was highly effective when he did. Barkley gained 53 yards on just nine rush attempts (5.9 avg.) and ran for two touchdowns. He also played a key role in the passing game as he caught five passes for 56 yards. It was Barkley's highest receiving yardage total of the season.
Isaiah Hodgins continued his recent stellar play with the best game of his career on Super Wild Card Weekend. The second-year receiver reeled in eight passes for the second time in his last three games while gaining a career-best 105 yards. He also scored a touchdown for the third consecutive game and for the fifth time in the last six outings. Darius Slayton finished second on the team with 88 yards, which included a game-high 47-yard catch-and-run which set up the Giants' second touchdown, while Richie James added four receptions for 31 yards.
"Those guys have done a great job," said Jones about the team's wide receivers. "I'm certainly not surprised. I don't think guys on this team are surprised by that. They're really good players who have the ability to impact the game in a lot of different ways. They've all played at a really high level throughout this season so, a lot of credit to them. They've showed up time and time again making plays."
5. Slowing down Eagles' pass rush
Perhaps the biggest challenge for the Giants on Saturday night will be slowing down the Eagles' dominant pass rush. Philadelphia put together an historic season getting after the quarterback, racking up a total of 70 sacks across 17 games. The Kansas City Chiefs finished second in the league with 55 sacks. The Eagles' total fell just two sacks shy of the 1984 Chicago Bears, who own the NFL's all-time single-season record with 72.
"They've got good players and they know how to get to the quarterback," Jones told the media. "We'll have a plan for those guys, and we've got a lot of confidence in our guys up front. They've played really well the whole year and they'll be ready to go."
The Eagles' defensive front dominated the first meeting between the two teams. Philadelphia racked up seven sacks in that game, including three from Brandon Graham. Fletcher Cox, Milton Williams, Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat also picked up one sack apiece. However, the Giants' pass protection performed a lot better in Week 18. The Eagles recorded two sacks in the regular-season finale, but one was of Lawrence Cager on a trick play and the other was of Jamie Gillan on a fake punt. Davis Webb was not sacked a single time.
"They're really good," Daboll said about the Eagles' defensive front. "They're hard to block. They can stop the run. They got a lot of really good players. They use them well. They're a challenge to block. On the perimeter, they're a challenge with the tackles. And inside, they're a challenge. So, that's where – like I talked about before – the offensive line and defensive line, that's where usually the game starts. And they're pretty much All-Pro or Pro Bowl at every spot."
In last weekend's win in Minnesota, the Giants surrendered three sacks and four total quarterback hits of Daniel Jones. Second-Team All-Pro left tackle Andrew Thomas continues to be the anchor of the offensive line as he allowed just one total pressure on 46 pass block snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. Right guard Mark Glowinski also allowed just one total pressure, while center Jon Feliciano did not allow any on his passing snaps.
"Number one opponent in our division," Thomas said about the Eagles. "They've done a great job. Obviously, their front is really good. I think they have something like 70.0 sacks or something like that. Definitely a tough opponent but we're getting prepared for them."