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Cover 4: First thoughts on Divisional Round


The crew gives first impressions on the Divisional Round matchup against the rival Eagles:

John Schmeelk: Much like last week when the Giants faced the Vikings, you first go when the teams played this season. The first Minnesota game turned out to be very similar to the second one.

But maybe it's better to go a different way this time. These two teams played only two weeks ago but the Giants didn't play any of their starters on either side of the ball, and used Davis Webb as their starting quarterback. The Giants played the Eagles well, and got the game to within one score in the fourth quarter. The Eagles were looking for the top seed. but it was a weird game to dissect given how the Giants approached it.

The first matchup was a 48-22 blowout loss to the Eagles on Dec. 11. The Giants had a lot of injuries in that game, and the Eagles were at the peak of their power. Since then, the Eagles are only 2-2 with a -5 point differential, which is their worst stretch of the season. The Giants are 2-2-1 since that game but have won two of their last three. These two teams are not the same as they were just over a month ago.

We don't know if Jalen Hurts is healthy and whether or not he will be able to run the ball like he did in that first matchup. Daniel Jones is playing the best football of his career over his past three starts. This game is going to be different than both of those first two matchups, and lot of that will have to do with how the Eagles play coming off of their first-round bye.

Dan Salomone: Backups weren't afraid of the challenge in the regular-season finale, so you know the full-strength Giants won't be, either. A total of 17 Giants starters were either inactive or in uniform and stayed on the sideline in Week 18, when Big Blue could neither help nor hurt its seeding. Philadelphia, meanwhile, still had the NFC East title and first-round bye to play at stake and proceeded to capture both of them. They will meet again in a high-stakes rematch, not unlike the one the Giants just played on Wild Card Weekend. As is the case throughout every sport at every level, the most dangerous team isn't always the best one throughout the season. It's often the team surging at the right time. The Giants certainly fit the later bill but will have to keep executing at a high level when they step onto Lincoln Financial Field, where they have not won since 2013.

View photos from the Giants' 31-24 Wild Card victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

Lance Medow: Much like with the wild-card round, the key term this week is familiarity as the Giants will once again have a rematch against a regular-season opponent - but they have an even better feel for the challenge given the Eagles are a division rival. Although there may not be much to take away from their last game in Week 18 (most of New York's starters didn't play), there's something to be said about how the first meeting played out, when Philadelphia put up 48 points and recorded several explosive plays for touchdowns.

There is a key similarity between the Vikings and Eagles - the onus is on the offense, regardless of the opponent. When you get to the playoffs, the caliber of the opposition from an offensive standpoint is very high and you can't expect your defense to consistently hold a team to under 20 points. Minnesota had a great deal of success in Sunday's win but the Giants had even more with four touchdowns and a field goal in seven scoring-threat possessions.

The starting offense that has produced over 30 points in each of the last two games is the one that has to show up against the Eagles. Philadelphia averaged 28 points per game during the regular season (third in the NFL) and scored 35 or more five times. Jalen Hurts' health is a factor to watch, but this Philly team has a strong track record, meaning the Giants' offense has to continue to deliver at its current rate if it wants to advance.

Matt Citak: The Giants will get the rare opportunity to face off against a team for the third time this season when they head to Philadelphia for Saturday's Divisional Round matchup. Based on their performances in the first four rematches they've had, the Giants could keep their season alive.

Brian Daboll's squad played four teams twice this season, including Sunday's Wild Card game. They went winless in the first meeting against the four teams, losing to the Cowboys, Eagles and Vikings while tying the Commanders. However, the Giants looked significantly better in each of the second meetings against all four of those teams. They fell to the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day, but the Giants were playing short-handed with several players out and several others dealing with an illness on the short week. They still lost by just eight points. Going up against the Commanders in the biggest game of the regular season in Week 15, the Giants put together a dominant effort, limiting Washington to just 12 points and getting the win on Sunday Night Football. The Giants then rested almost all of their starters in the second game against the Eagles in Week 18, and despite Philadelphia still having to win in order to secure the No. 1 seed, the Giants' reserves lost by just six points in Davis Webb's first career start. Of course, the Giants had one of their most complete performances of the entire year against the Vikings on Super Wild Card Weekend, which avenged their Christmas Eve loss to the NFC North champions. After Justin Jefferson dominated the first meeting, the All-Pro receiver was held to just two receptions for 10 yards after the first quarter and only seven receptions for 47 yards total.

The Giants will now get a chance to snap their nine-game losing streak at Lincoln Financial Field this weekend. Philadelphia has not taken the field since the two teams met in the regular-season finale due to their first-round bye, similar to when the Giants faced the Commanders twice in three weeks with Washington having a bye between the two matchups. Expect Daboll, Mike Kafka and Wink Martindale to make the necessary adjustments from the first two meetings against Philly to put the Giants in the best situation to be able to win the game.

View rare photos of the Giants' Divisional Round playoff games through the years.


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