EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – On Nov. 28, 2021, the Giants and Philadelphia Eagles shared the MetLife Stadium field for three hours and then departed on journeys that took them in opposite directions.
That afternoon, the Giants held Philly quarterback Jalen Hurts to 129 passing yards and intercepted him three times in a 13-7 victory. It remains the most recent game in which the Giants limited their opponent to single digit scoring and picked off three passes.
It was their final highlight of the season. Quarterback Daniel Jones suffered a neck injury that sidelined him for the remainder of the year and the Giants lost each of their last six games.
The Eagles, meanwhile, returned to MetLife Stadium the following week and defeated the Jets, 33-18, the first of four consecutive victories that propelled them to a playoff berth. The loss to the Giants is still Philadelphia's most recent regular-season road defeat. They are 5-0 this season and have won seven in a row as visitors.
Tomorrow, the Giants-Eagles rivalry will begin its 90th season when the teams meet in MetLife.
The Giants are 7-4-1 and currently hold the sixth seed in the NFC playoff race. Philadelphia is an NFL-best 11-1, losing only a Monday night game vs. Washington on Nov. 14. This is the first Giants-Eagles game in which each team is at least two games above .500 since they were both 9-4 on Dec. 19, 2010. The Eagles won that game, 38-31, on DeSean Jackson's infamous 65-yard punt return on the game's final play.
This Eagles team presents numerous challenges to the Giants. Philadelphia is second in the league in scoring (28.2 points-per-game) and the offense is third in yards-per-game (388.3). The defense is even better, ranking second at 296.4 yards a game and first against the pass (178.5) and in interceptions (15) and takeaways (23).
"I think the biggest statistic is 11-1 and usually that correlates (to other impressive stats) for the most part," coach Brian Daboll said. "I think (Eagles general manager) Howie's (Roseman) done a great job of putting together a really good team and I think Nick's (Sirianni) a fantastic coach, known him for a while. He gets the most out of his guys, and they're playing at a really high level. That's why they're the best team in the league."
"They're a good team – there's no doubt," quarterback Daniel Jones said. "You understand that going in the game is they're a good team, they're an explosive offense, they've got a good defense. We've got to play our best ball and that's the goal, that's what we're preparing to do."
View rare photos of the historic rivalry between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles.
Daboll didn't discriminate when asked what caught his attention watching tape of the Eagles.
"Everything," he said. "Their defensive line, their receivers, their quarterback, their offensive line is as good as it gets. It starts with (center Jason) Kelce. Gets everything set, has been a fantastic player for a really long time. I think (quarterback) Jalen (Hurts) is operating at an extremely high level and (wide receivers) A.J. (Brown), DeVonta (Smith). I know (wide receiver) Quez (Watkins) got injured there we'll see where he's at. The running game is really good. Their defense, their corners, they can rush the passer and stop the run, There's a reason why they're 11-1. They're a well-rounded team."
Hurts has come a long way since his undistinguished performance here a year ago. His 108.3 passer rating is the NFL's third highest. Hurts has thrown 20 touchdown passes and his three interceptions tie him with Tom Brady for the league low among QBs with at least 189 attempts. He has also rushed for 609 yards and joins running back Miles Sanders (924 rushing yards) and Brown (61 receptions) as Eagles that have scored nine touchdowns. Smith also has 61 catches.
"I've got a lot of respect for Jalen," said Daboll, who coached Hurts at the University of 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."
"I just think he's gotten better every year," defensive coordinator Wink Martindale. "He's like a five-tool baseball player. He moves around the pocket well. He's throwing the ball well. He's seeing the field, and he's got the weapons to distribute the ball, too – and he's doing a good job of it."
In addition to their impressive ballhandlers, the Eagles have perhaps the NFL's finest offensive line, led by Kelce and tackles Jordan Mailata and Lane Johnson.
"It's going to be a great challenge," Martindale said. "It's our job, defensively, to try to keep them off balance. (With) their combination of run game, pass game, screen game, mobile quarterback, it's like trying to plug a hole in the dike. You got to use every finger and every toe to try to keep them off balance. Just like you pressure on third down to get them to make a quick throw, I think you're going to have to show them some changeups up front to try to get them off schedule that way as well. And that's a tough challenge because you got those guys outside who can make plays."
Philly is just as strong on defense. The Eagles are the only team that has five players with 5.0+ sacks this season: Haason Reddick (9.0), Javon Hargrave (8.0), Josh Sweat (6.5), Brandon Graham (5.5), and Fletcher Cox (5.0). Linebacker T.J. Edwards has 108 tackles, or 31 more than anyone of his teammates. Cornerbacks Darius Slay and James Bradberry, the former Giant, each have three interceptions.
"I think they have talented players across the board," Jones said. "On defense, at each level they're talented – people who can make a lot of plays and they play hard. They're smart, you can tell that they don't have many busted coverages or scheme or any issues with that kind of stuff. They're a good team, they're talented, they're smart and they play hard."
The Giants are the only NFC East team that has yet to win a division game, going 0-2-1 (7-2 vs all other opponents). They lost both games against Dallas and last week tied Washington. They will have a rematch with the Commanders next week.
Saquon Barley said establishing themselves as a force in the division is "not our focus." They are taking a much wider view of the final five games, which includes a season ender in Philadelphia in Week 18.
"To be honest, we're just trying to win football games, go out there and play for each other," Barkley said. "At the end of the day, you want to put yourself in the position to play meaningful football games in December. We've done that. We've got to execute; we've got a great opportunity ahead of us especially this week in Philly. We get to go against the best team in the NFL. To me, that sounds like a fun challenge."