The #1 seed Philadelphia Eagles will face off against the #6 seed and division rival New York Giants in the NFC Divisional Round this Saturday at 8:15 PM. Although the Eagles have beat the Giants twice this season and are healthier coming off a bye week, this game should not be looked at as an easy beat. The 9-7-1 Giants are coming to Philadelphia as the clear underdogs and are hungry after a 31-24 victory over the Vikings last Sunday in the wildcard round.
One of the Giants’ biggest strengths is their defensive line. Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale has been aggressive with blitzing this year, blitzing on 42.3% of snaps, a league high. Despite this, the Giants defense has been bottom 10 this season in sacks; however, their strong suit is quarterback pressures. This shouldn’t be a problem for MVP candidate Jalen Hurts who is putting up elite rushing numbers this season, but don’t be surprised if All-pro Dexter Lawrence II gets in the backfield.
The man that deserves his section is no other than Kayvon Thibadoeux. The rookie linebacker is highly versatile and can play end too. Thibadoeux will need attention all game or else he could be a problem for the Eagles’ offense. The Eagles may need to double-team him and make sure the ball doesn’t go to his side.
Another player that may be of concern is Giants’ pro bowl running back Saquon Barkley. Barkley is coming off of a 2-touchdown, 53-yard game on only 9 attempts. The star running back seems to be back in peak form that we all saw at Penn State despite his injury-riddled NFL career. While there is a slim chance the Eagles can completely shut him down, he should be their main focus on Saturday.
Furthermore, the Eagles may not have to worry as much about the Giants’ injured wide receiver room. New York has suffered 2 torn ACLs in the form of veteran Sterling Shepard and speedster Wandale Robinson. Consequently, the Eagles may benefit from trying to blitz a corner on some plays because they do not have to focus as much on the receivers as they do Saquon.
Finally, one of the Giants’ key pieces recently has been Quarterback Daniel Jones. Jones used to once be one of the most made fun of players in the league for his many fumbles and interception problems; however, Jones has cleaned up his game significantly. He has had elite accuracy this year along with a dominant rushing attack.
Even though the Eagles are favored by betting lines at -7.5, they shouldn’t underestimate the Giants led by Coach of the Year candidate Brian Daboll. While Philly has the tools to shut down the Giants on paper, they shouldn’t underestimate the underdogs just yet, but they should have the roster to come out on top.