How Azeez Ojulari could propel the New York Giants to a win over the Eagles

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Aug 21, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants linebacker Azeez Ojulari (51) warms up prior to the preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Azeez Ojulari returned to the New York Giants‘ lineup in Week 13 and immediately made an immense impact. The Giants are preparing to face their most formidable opponent of the season so far when they host the 10-1 Philadelphia Eagles. Big Blue needs Ojulari to build on last week’s performance and get after Jalen Hurts and the Eagles in Week 14.

How Azeez Ojulari could propel the New York Giants to a win over the Eagles

Week 14 will be Azeez Ojulari’s second week back in the lineup after missing Weeks 4 to 12 with an injury. In his return to the field in Week 13, Ojulari was a phenom. He was constantly in the backfield, pressuring Commanders quarterback Taylor Heinicke and disrupting Washington’s passing game. Azeez Ojulari appeared to be back to full strength in Week 13 and looked arguably better than he had before the injury.

Azeez Ojulari¬†finished with a 16.7% pressure rate against the Commanders (according to Pro Football Focus). He finished the game with one sack and a forced fumble. This was Ojulari’s second strip sack on the season. Azeez had not played since New York’s Week 4 matchup with Chicago (when he recorded his first strip sack). But clearly Big Blue was missing Azeez as the second-year pass-rusher made an impact immediately upon his return in Week 13.

This should come as no surprise, though, considering Azeez Ojulari set a single-season Giants record for rookie pass rushers with 8.0 sacks in 2021. With Ojulari back in the lineup, opposing offensive lines must pick their poison: Azeez Ojulari or Kayvon Thibodeaux. The two young edge rushers could combine to create a deadly duo for the Giants’ defense to close out the season.

As the New York Giants prepare to host the Eagles this Sunday, one of the main objectives will be to slow down quarterback Jalen Hurts. The Eagles are enjoying an MVP-candidate season out of Jalen Hurts who has thrown 20 touchdowns with only 3 interceptions in 12 games. To make matters worse for Big Blue, Hurts is protected by arguably the best offensive line in the NFL.

Pro Football Focus ranks the Philadelphia Eagles’ offensive line as the best in the league entering Week 14, struggling to pinpoint a weak link in Philly’s front five. Per PFF, no member of Philly’s offensive line allowed more than one pressure against the Tennessee Titans in Week 13. The Eagles’ line is led by All-Pro offensive tackle Lane Johnson who has surrendered only 7 pressures this season in pass protection.

The Azeez Ojulari vs Lane Johnson matchup should be a spectacle. Ojulari is hitting his stride right now and will battle it out with Johnson, arguably the best right tackle in the NFL. But if Azeez Ojulari can manage to get the better of Lane Johnson on just a couple of snaps, getting a sack or two, that could make the difference in Sunday’s game.

The Eagles are sitting firmly atop the division while the Giants are fighting to maintain their standing in playoff contention. A loss in Sunday’s game could be damning for Big Blue. The Giants have only won one of their last five games. They’re in need of a win on Sunday to keep their hopes alive and earn their first playoff berth since 2016.