The Giants are coming to town on Saturday night to face the Eagles. And as Philly fans, we have a natural instinct to worry. But I am here to ease your fears. Because while nothing is guaranteed, there is a good reason to be confident heading into this matchup. Several of them in fact. On paper, the Eagles are the far superior team. And here are 5 numbers that show it.
The end of the Eagles’ season was a bit sketchy. They lost two of their last 3. But it is important to remember just how dominant they are with Jalen Hurts under center. The Eagles went 14-3. But two of those losses came with Gardner Minshew at QB. Meaning when Jalen Hurts plays, they are 14-1. That is a .933 winning percentage.
When Hurts plays, this is easily one of the best teams in the league. They are 3rd in total yards, and 3rd in total points. Even with those two Minshew games. The playoffs are a different beast. But if you are worried about how they played at the end of the year, don’t be. That was two games without Hurts and 1 game where they didn’t let Hurts use his legs. But on Saturday night they will have Hurts, and he will be using his legs. The way they played in the first 14 games should be given far more weight than those final 3.
Both of these teams are top 5 in rushing yards. The Eagles average 147.6 yards per game, and the Giants 148.2. The difference though lies within the two teams’ rush defenses. The Eagles give up 121.6 yards per game on the ground, 16th in the league. The Giants meanwhile give up 144.2 yards per game on the ground, 27th in the league. At one point the Eagles’ run defense was a major problem. But since they added Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Sug, and especially with Jordan Davis back on the field, they have been somewhat dominant. In those 8 games, they gave up just 118.1 rushing yards per game, and only 77 per game to running backs. The Eagles now sport a solid to great run defense.
The Giants meanwhile, have continued to struggle against the run. In the final 8 games of the season, they gave up an average of 156.5 yards per game on the ground. That includes 137.5 to running backs. And the last time these two teams faced off at full strength, the Eagles put up 253 rushing yards on them. Both of these teams will be looking to run the ball on Saturday night. But only one of them is prepared to defend that. And it is not the Giants.
There is a myth that it is hard to beat teams 3 times in one season. But like most myths, there is very little to no evidence to back it up. Since 1970, there have been 24 instances where a team that swept the regular season series faced off with that team in the playoffs. The team that went 0-2 won only 9 times. That is a 14-9 record (.625). And when the team that went 2-0 is playing at home, it is even better. Those teams are 14-5. Not only is it not that difficult to beat a team 3 times in one season, but the opposite is true. It is difficult for a team that went 0-2 in the regular season to get the win.
The Giants have been far more impressive than anyone would have thought. But there is one thing they have been bad at for a decade and are still bad at. protecting their QB. The Giants gave up 49 sacks this season, 5th most in the NFL. The Eagles meanwhile lead the league in sacks with 69, which is top 5 all-time for a single-season sack total. The last time the Eagles faced Daniel Jones they sacked him 7 times. The Eagles should be able to get after him all game. They do have to be careful because as we saw vs the Vikings, Jones can run a bit. But the matchup of the Eagles’ D-Line vs the Giants’ O-Line is an obvious advantage to the Eagles. Andrew Thomas is great for them, but he can only block 1 man. And there will be 3 other pass rushers with double-digit sacks that the Giants have to contend with.
The Eagles in the regular season had a point differential of +133. The Giants were -6. A total differential of +139. The Eagles are a much better team. The Giants have been a scrappy impressive team. They held their own this year despite how poorly managed the former regime was. Brian Daboll should probably be the coach of the year for what he did with this roster. Their future looks bright. But talent-wise, they do not stack up.
Could they upset the Eagles? Sure. Anything could happen. But the Eagles are 7-point favorites for a reason. They are better at nearly every aspect of the game. Their Qb is better, their WRs are better. their TE is better, their O-Line is much better, and their defense is better. They scored 112 more points than the Giants and gave up 27 fewer points. The Eagles’ biggest obstacle in this game is themselves. If they don’t make dumb mistakes and shoot themselves in the foot, they should win this game.