As many predicted the Giants exposed the Minnesota Vikings this past weekend and will be the Eagles divisional round opponent this Saturday night.
Though the Eagles are 2-0 against the division rivals, this should prove to be a tough game between two teams that are extremely familiar with each other.
The Giants should be riding high after a gritty playoff win on the road. Meanwhile, the Eagles are extremely rested and should be getting almost all of their injured players back hopefully at 100 percent. Two teams with two different routes to this point and much different expectations. I’d expect a highly-competitive game.
Here are three matchups that should prove to be pivotal in this divisional round clash:
Lane Johnson vs. Kayvon Thibodeaux
The Eagles’ veteran right tackle will be back for their playoff run, putting off surgery on a torn adductor in his groin to match up with Giants’ first round pick Kayvon Thibodeaux. The rookie pass rusher out of Oregon lined up mainly on the left side against Minnesota so he’ll see a lot of Lane Johnson on Saturday.
Though Thibodeaux’s stats aren’t anything to gawk at – 4 sacks and two forced fumbles, the rookie is talented with a high motor. Johnson will hopefully be as close to 100 percent as he can get and neutralize the Giants pass rush from the left side.
Jalen Hurts vs the Giants’ Blitz
During the regular season, no team blitzed more than the Giants at 40.3%, according to Pro Football Reference.
But the Giants dialed back the blitz against the Vikings and were able to neutralize Vikings’ Justin Jefferson.
With Jalen Hurts’ shoulder surely less than 100 percent, I’m curious if the Giants won’t try and send more pressure to get Hurts on the run and put a few extra hits on his ailing throwing shoulder. Though the Eagles have plenty of weapons Hurts can go to for a quick throw, getting the Eagles quarterback uncomfortable is likely going to be at the top of the Giants’ defensive game plan.
Dallas Goedert vs. Giants Interior Pass Defense
One of the Giants’ biggest weaknesses on defense is their coverage of tight ends.
Giants against tight ends over the last four weeks:
33 catches, 319 yards, 2 TDs
They are weak in the middle of the field. Saturday will be known as the Dallas Goedert game.
— Brenden Deeg (@BrendenDeeg_) January 16, 2023
With the Giants possibly sending a lot of blitzes, the Eagles quick pass/screen game could be huge. And their biggest weapon in the screen game this year has been Dallas Goedert who is great after the catch and making tough catches over the middle.
Haason Reddick vs Evan Neal
The Eagles’ pass rush has been their biggest difference maker in defense all year as they racked up a historic season with 70 sacks – a franchise record.
The entire defensive line should matchup well against the Giants’ o-line. But their greatest advantage this Saturday might be that their best pass rusher won’t have to go up against the Giants’ best lineman in left tackle Andrew Thomas. With Reddick mainly lining up on the left side of the line, he’ll match up with the right tackle Evan Neal – a great mismatch for one of the NFL’s premier pass rushers.
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