The Philadelphia Eagles are hosting the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field (for the second time in three weeks) in the Divisional Round of the 2023 NFL playoffs. The Birds are back in action after earning a first-round bye.
In order to preview this NFC East postseason matchup, I reached out to our enemies over at Big Blue View. The ebullient Ed Valentine took the time to answer my questions about this upcoming battle. Let’s take a look at the answers. [For my answers to Ed’s questions about the Eagles, check out this link to BBV.]
Our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook have all of the odds for this week’s games.
1 - What is the most meaningful difference with the Giants since the Eagles blew them out in Week 14?
I think there are several, so it is hard for me to pick one. I’m going off-script, but let me give you the three things that come to mind.
— Defense: Defensive tackle Leonard Williams, cornerback Adoree’ Jackson and safety Xavier McKinney did not play in Week 14. That is, arguably, three of the team’s top five defenders (with Dexter Lawrence and Kayvon Thibodeaux being the others). They will all play Saturday.
— Offense: The Giants are more versatile than they were early in the year. They aren’t ‘Barkley left, Barkley right and throw it only when absolutely necessary’ any longer. They have developed a real passing attack, have ben more balanced and have even been pass-first at times.
— Confidence: The Giants are now a playoff-winning team. That’s not insignificant with a number of young-fish players in the playoffs for the first time. Minnesota isn’t Philly, and we know the environment won’t be easy to handle, but the Giants just beat a 13-4 team in a hostile environment where WR Isaiah Hodgins got the double-bird from a little kid after scoring a touchdown.
2 - What do you believe most in about the Giants right now? What inspires the most confidence?
What inspires the most confidence? Brian Daboll and his coaching staff. This is a fantastic coaching staff. The Giants are always prepared. They always have a great plan. They always know where the weaknesses are and have ways to exploit them. They always put players in positions to succeed, which coaches often talk about but don’t do.
Can the players always execute? No. Shoot, they have lost seven games. The staff they have, though, and the adjustments they can make on the fly, will always give them a chance.
3 - And now for the opposite: what concerns you the most about the Giants right now?
Special teams concerns me some. I always seem to be on the edge of my seat when the Giants kick the ball, expecting the opposing team to break a long run. The other thing that concerns me is the law of averages. I can’t remember the last time the Giants played a truly ‘sloppy’ game, in terms of turning the ball over a lot. They had two turnovers Week 16 vs. Minnesota and that felt like a lot. If they have a three- or four-turnover game they have no shot.
4 - Earlier this month, you wrote that “it would be a monumental upset for the Giants to beat an Eagles team with a healthy Jalen Hurts in the playoffs.” To what extent do you still believe that? And assuming the Giants find a way to pull off a win, what does the path to that happening look like?
Yes, I still believe that. First and foremost, the Giants have to play a clean game. No turnovers. No costly penalties. Efficient on third down and in the red zone on offense AND defense. They have to catch, or create a break or two. A Pick 6. A special teams turnover. Something that changes the landscape. They can’t just go toe to toe. They need something unexpected, unusual to tilt their way.
5 - Who wins this game and why? With DraftKings Sportsbook listing the Eagles as 7.5-point favorites, what’s your score prediction?
The Eagles win. I’m not blind, or stupid. The Eagles have more talent. The Giants are good, better than I thought they would be, and EXTREMELY well-coached. The Eagles just have more weapons. I think the Giants make Philly work for it. If I was betting the game, I’d take the points but I just can’t put fully blue-colored glasses on and pick the Giants. Philly 23, Giants 20.
Ed also stopped by this week’s volume of The NFC East Mixtape to talk Eagles vs. Giants, what he had for breakfast, and more.