The New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles will face off tonight in the Divisional Round of the 2023 postseason. The Giants are underdogs heading into this game, as they were last week and as they have been for most of the season. But somehow, someway, the Giants have continued to win games. This Divisional Round matchup will be Brian Daboll’s toughest test to date. But there is a path to victory for Big Blue if they play a clean game, stop the run, and apply pressure to Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts.
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Giants’ keys to victory in the Divisional Round:
Win the turnover battle:
The Eagles found themselves in a funk to close out the 2022 regular season. Philadelphia turned the ball over nine times in their final four games, finishing 2-2 in those matchups. Jalen Hurts played in two of those games, dealing with an injury to his right throwing shoulder. In those two games Hurts played, however, he threw 0 touchdown passes to 3 interceptions. It was not the same quality of play that the Eagles were used to out of their MVP-candidate quarterback.
Daniel Jones was one of the most careful quarterbacks in football this season. He had the lowest interception percentage in the NFL during the regular season at just 1.1%. The Giants have turned the ball over just once in their last three games. In games where the Giants committed 0 turnovers, they are 6-2 this season (both regular and postseason).
Pressure Jalen Hurts:
Jalen Hurts has struggled under pressure this season. When facing pressure, Hurts had a 44.4% completion percentage, 5.5 yards per attempt, only four touchdowns with two interceptions, and a 69.8 passer rating (David Syversten). Inversely, Daniel Jones has completed 55.1% of his passes under pressure, averaging 6.4 yards per attempt and tossing six touchdown passes to only one interception with an 83.6 passer rating. If the Giants want to pull off the upset, they need to pressure Jalen Hurts and force him to make mistakes.
Utilize Isaiah Hodgins in the slot:
Isaiah Hodgins has emerged as the Giants’ top receiving target. In their win over the Vikings last weekend, Hodgins has his first career 100-yard receiving game. Hodgins toasted the Vikings with 105 yards and one touchdown on eight receptions.
Though he usually plays on the boundary, the Giants moved Isaiah Hodgins into the slot for a fair number of his snaps last week. Hodgins caught all 5 of his targets from the slot and averaged 2.72 yards per route run (Yahoo! Sports). Eagles starting slot cornerback Avonte Maddox is OUT for Saturday night’s matchup. This could create an opportunity for Hodgins to have another big playoff performance.
Slow down the Eagles’ rushing attack:
When the Giants hosted the Eagles in Week 14, Philadelphia ran all over them. The Eagles totaled 253 yards and four touchdowns on the ground in that game. The Giants’ run defense has been poor all year, allowing 144.2 rushing yards per game during the regular season. However, in the Wild Card Round, the Giants held Dalvin Cook and the Vikings to only 61 rushing yards. If the defense can turn in another performance like that, slowing down Boston Scott and Miles Sanders, they will be far better positioned to win the game.
Though the Eagles are listed as eight-point favorites in this matchup, I believe the game will be much closer. The Giants are red hot at the right time, with Daniel Jones playing the best football of his life. If the Giants can make life difficult for Jalen Hurts and force him to turn the ball over, they should be able to find themselves on the winning side for the scoreboard.
Score Prediction: New York Giants beat Philadelphia Eagles 27-24