American Football

The Linc – The X-Factor in the Eagles’ playoff game against the Giants


NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles
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Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 1/21/23.

Let’s get to the Philadelphia Eagles links …

8 NFL Divisional Round X-Factors that will determine playoff winners – SB Nation
Daniel Jones vs. the city of Philadelphia. If it wasn’t for Geno Smith we’d be talking about Daniel Jones running away with the Comeback Player of the Year Award. Jones hasn’t always been remarkable this season, but he’s been extremely efficient and taken care of the football — core tenets for an offense that prioritizes controlling the ball and making good decisions over explosive plays. This season Jones has been better at home than away, particularly when it comes to scoring and turning the ball over. In 2022 he posted a TD/INT ratio of 3.3:1 at home (10 TD, 3 INT), compared to 2.5:1 away (5 TD, 2 INT). The divisional playoffs are going to be in the most hostile location Jones has ever played considering the stakes, and the key to the Giants having a chance against Philadelphia will be managing the crowd — who are going to try and tear him apart. If Jones can rise above the noise, the heckling, and the acrimony, New York might have a chance. If he can’t, this game is over before it begins.

Will the third time be the charm for the Giants? – BGN
Three’s company, four is a crowd, five is….? In addition to all those disadvantages the Giants have, there is another at play here. This game will be the third straight road game for them, and fifth in six weeks. Two of those games were/are down the turnpike in Philly, which isn’t a huge obstacle. And they did just win in Minnesota three weeks after losing… in Minnesota. But this stuff adds up. The Giants played back to back road games at Jacksonville and Seattle in October, and then back to back road games at Washington and Minnesota in December. They lost the second game both times. They are coming off a win on their second straight road game, but the first game was against the Eagles where everyone important got the day off, if one wants to discount that they can. Everyone is picking the Eagles for this game, and they should. So long as Jalen Hurts is actually healthy, this game should not be difficult for the Eagles.

Eye on the Enemy #123: Ed Valentine joins to break down the Eagles-Giants Divisional Round game – BGN Radio
Big Blue View’s Ed Valentine joins John Stolnis to break down the Eagles-Giants Divisional Round matchup on Saturday. Later in the show, Stolnis makes his picks for the divisional round of the playoffs.

Mailbag: Eagles beat writer season predictions, from this past summer – PhillyVoice
This past offseason the Giants cleaned house, hiring Brian Daboll as the new head coach, and Joe Schoen as the new GM. Because Mara’s previous hires went so terribly sideways, there was good reason to doubt he’d get it right on try No. 4, but so far Daboll has been a huge hit. Even as I look at this Giants roster now, it’s impressive that they were even able to finish with a winning record, much less find themselves in the divisional round of the playoffs, and seemingly confident that they can win. So for me, the Giants are the much bigger surprise, and Daboll would get my vote (I don’t actually have a vote) for NFL Coach of the Year.

More Playoff Talk – Iggles Blitz
Is there any reason to be nervous? The only thing that gives me pause is this being the first playoff game for this group. The Eagles were in the playoffs last year, but there have been some key additions to that team. And the group last year didn’t exactly look good in the postseason, falling behind 31-0 before cutting it to 31-15. One of the big issues is that they had no answers when the Bucs took away the running game. The WRs weren’t good enough and Jalen Hurts wasn’t good enough. Both of those issues are gone now. AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith are the best WR duo in the NFC. Both guys have #1 WR capability. As for Hurts, he made incredible growth as a passer this year. It will be exciting to see what he does this time around.

Eagles’ Season Hinges on Jalen Hurts’ Shoulder – Football Outsiders
If the Eagles are healthy on offense, they’re likely to bulldoze the Giants off the field. Really, it’s that simple. It’s not just that they’re much better than New York, though they certainly are—despite their late-season slide, they finished sixth in weighted DVOA, while the Giants defense ranked 29th—but this is an especially bad matchup because Philadelphia’s strengths are perfectly suited to attack the Giants where they are weakest. To wit: The Eagles were by far the NFL’s best rushing offense (the second-place Ravens were closer to the seventh-place Giants than they were to Philadelphia), while the Giants finished dead last in run defense.

NFL Divisional Round game picks: Eagles’ talent overwhelms Giants; Bengals upset Bills in Buffalo –
What matters more: The body of work from the whole season or the last month? The Giants are peaking at the right time, able to blitz less on defense because of a healthier defensive line. They are also willing to trust Daniel Jones to do more. The receiver group is established and underrated. The coaching staff is on a roll. Like the Eagles, their running quarterback makes them dangerous in short-yardage and red-zone situations. They deserve to be here. Meanwhile, the Eagles stumbled to the finish line and now face injury questions to some of their best players. Lane Johnson and Jalen Hurts are back, but will they be the same? That said, the Eagles’ ability to win every type of game should serve them well here. They won’t need Hurts to handle the blitz in passing situations if they are rarely in them. Perhaps the most critical team-building strategy of Philadelphia’s analytical front office is the belief in paying for quality and quantity up front. The Eagles are tougher and deeper than the Giants on both lines. They can run the ball better and rush the passer way better, harassing Jones and letting their superior overall talent take over.

Eagles observations: One thing Eagles must do to beat Giants – NBCSP
10A. It’s easy to think of A.J. Brown as WR1 and DeVonta Smith as WR2, but I’ll tell you what, from what I’ve seen this year, they are definitely co-WR1’s. Brown made a Pro Bowl, second-team all-pro and broke Mike Quick’s single-season receiving record. He’s an incredible player. But what Smith did down the stretch this year really elevated him in my mind to Brown’s equal. From Week 11 through Week 18, with the Eagles battling for the No. 1 seed, Brown had the most receiving yards in the NFL (96 per game) and after Justin Jefferson (94) and Davante Adams (92), Smith was fourth with 89. Smith finished with 1,196 yards in his second season, a figure Brown didn’t reach until this year, his fourth season. His 2,112 yards are the most ever by an Eagle in his first two years (46 more than DeSean Jackson). Brown is incredible. Smith is incredible. Both have tremendous chemistry with Jalen Hurts. Either one can take a game over at any time. And the Eagles control both their contracts for three more years. I’m not going to put one ahead of the other. And that’s certainly not a knock on Brown. It’s just how impressed I’ve been with Smith.

Spadaro: 6 storylines to follow in Round 3 of Eagles-Giants –
2. Touchdowns in the red zone. Philadelphia went 1 for 5 in Week 18 against New York, dropping from first in the league in touchdown efficiency in the red zone to third in the NFL in this category. Having quarterback Jalen Hurts ready to go and to be a threat running the football is an important piece in this offense, so that’s a big-time positive for the Eagles. The Giants are ranked seventh defensively in the red zone in terms of touchdown efficiency, so this is going to be a terrific battle. The Giants are so stout inside with Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams, so the interior of the Eagles’ offensive line will have its hands full. New York’s offense is ranked seventh in the league in this category, while the Eagles’ defense, ranked 11th, understands the challenge of keeping Jones from gaining traction with his legs. Expect this to be a battle of extremely physical football.

Eagles-Giants preview: Jalen Hurts’ health, Lane Johnson’s return, game predictions – The Athletic
Wulf: I get in trouble when I think I have a better handle on the opposition than I really do, so take this with a heavy handful of salt. But I think we’re getting over our skies a little bit on loving up the Giants after they beat a mediocre Vikings team with a bad defense. Even as the Giants’ defense has changed its identity of late, it hasn’t improved all that much. It went from No. 29 in DVOA over the first 14 weeks to No. 24 in the games since (not counting Week 18). The Eagles have a talent advantage everywhere on the field to go along with the benefit of rest, health and home-field advantage. Blowing this golden opportunity would be disastrous and completely reframe the season. Then again, two of the Eagles’ three losses this season have come in NFC East rematches. But then again to that, Sirianni is 4-0 in his two seasons as head coach when he has at least a full week before a game. I think we’ll see a dynamic Hurts, some turnovers on defense and a relatively comfortable win. Eagles 31, Giants 17.

For Jalen Hurts, This Is All Routine – SI
The MVP candidate is everywhere, but while everything is different now, it’s always the same him. His face is blank and expressionless, whether on the mirrors lining a wall in a small space adjacent to the Eagles’ locker room, or on the TV nearby, where he’s building a candidacy no one else expected. It’s always the same look with Jalen Hurts, even after touchdowns: stoic, intense, firm and unfeeling; his countenance so consistent that it might seem like an act, an I-work-too-hard reply to the what’s-your-biggest-weakness question at a job interview. But here he is now, the real him—same face, same demeanor, same everything—sitting atop a swivel chair on a Friday afternoon in mid-December. For a man whose own brother refers to him as “The Robot,” even a routine haircut is anything but. Because this is Hurts, the doubted-but-never-deterred Eagles quarterback, his eyes scan for holes in his preferred fade. They spot tiny imperfections, mistakes the size of a needlepoint, while signaling the makeup of a man who wears a cloak of self-assuredness. Hurts doesn’t simply get his hair cut; he directs the barber like he orchestrates the lethal offense of a Super Bowl contender. Right there. Little higher.

NFL playoffs divisional round game picks, schedule, odds, injuries – ESPN
What to know for officiating: Referee Clete Blakeman’s regular-season crew tied for the fourth-most flags in the NFL at 14.4 per game. But it threw only 30 flags for offensive holding, tied for the fifth fewest. That could be of note for the Eagles, who committed the NFL’s fourth-most holding fouls (30), as they try to slow the Giants’ active defensive front. The Giants drew the NFL’s fourth-most offensive holding calls during the regular season (24)

Divisional Round DraftKings Saturday Night Football Showdown: Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Giants – PFF
DeVonta Smith, Philadelphia Eagles ($9,600). Smith has been unstoppable in recent weeks and is particularly well-suited to face the New York Giants. He’s averaged 97 receiving yards per game since the start of December despite not having Jalen Hurts for most of that stretch. Smith has played particularly well against man coverages, averaging 2.43 yards per route run against man compared to 1.58 against zone. Similarly, Smith has an 86.8 PFF receiving grade against man compared to 74.6 against zone. The Giants have the second-highest rate of using man defense this season. Smith led the Eagles in receptions in both matchups against the Giants earlier this season. A.J. Brown has similarly played better against man defenses compared to zone and has a good chance of a big game, but he is $1,200 more expensive, making Smith the better option.

Big Blue View mailbag: 2023 Divisional Round time-killing edition – Big Blue View
Wide receivers coach Mike Groh is a veteran coach who was offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2018 and 2019. Of course, Doug Pederson was the head coach and Pederson called the plays. Maybe Groh gets the job and gets his first opportunity to be a play caller. Maybe quarterbacks coach Shea Tierney, who has now been with head coach Brian Daboll for five years, gets that role. I’ll just throw this out there — maybe Tierney gets bumped up and Davis Webb becomes quarterbacks coach. Maybe Groh, Tierney or someone else gets the offensive coordinator title, but Daboll steps in as play-caller. He’s been pretty successful doing that in the past.

Cowboys at 49ers injury report (Friday): Jason Peters ruled out, Jayron Kearse is questionable – Blogging The Boys
The Cowboys at 49ers matchup looks like it’ll be one between two of the healthiest teams left in the NFL Playoffs, with each team fielding almost all of its 53-man rosters at the exact right time. On the Dallas side, Jason Peters has been ruled out with an hip injury. Luckily, the offensive line has had to shift around so much this season due to injuries that this won’t be a brand-new scheme that the players will have to adjust to on the fly. Still, Peters proved worthwhile for the Cowboys as a mid-season pickup even if he can’t finish this playoff run.

NFL Divisional Playoffs Picks: Hogs Haven writers make picks for every game – Hogs Haven
This week there everyone agrees will win on the moneyline and the spread. Hogs Haven writers all like the Chiefs, Eagles, Bills, and 49ers to move on to the conference championship round.

Full list of Divisional Round straight-up picks ranked by confidence levels – DraftKings Nation
Last week, I went 6-0 with my picks, including 3-0 on high confidence, 1-0 on medium, and 2-0 on low. This week, I’m picking one upset with the Bengals over the Bills, and going chalk the rest of the way. I imagine my perfect record will take a hit because this is a tough series of games to pick. High: Eagles over Giants, 49ers over Cowboys.

A year after making a disastrous hire, the Jaguars made a great one – PFT
The ride quite possibly ends this week, at Arrowhead Stadium. Unless it doesn’t. Last year, both No. 1 seeds lost in the divisional round. It’s not as rare as you’d assume. The lower seed throws a lucky punch early, catches the favorite flat-footed, and all of a sudden we have a real fight. Pederson knows what he’s doing. He learned it from Chiefs coach Andy Reid. Now, with the season on the line and an AFC championship berth in the balance, Pederson has a chance to turn the tables on Big Red, and to complete a turnaround even more stunning than Jacksonville’s post-2017 disintegration.

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