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Eagles offense vs. Giants defense preview: Key matchups to watch

Looking ahead to Philadelphia’s playoff game with stats and film.

Philadelphia Eagles v New York Giants Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

With no game review this week, I thought I would combine the stats preview with some film from both times the Eagles played the Giants this year to give you a detailed preview of what to expect and some specific matchups to watch out for. This article will preview the Eagles' offense vs. the Giants defense. All data via Sports Info Solutions as always!

Let’s begin by looking at the Giants’ tendencies from the past 6 weeks.

Tendencies - the past 6 weeks

Giants Defense

This Giants’ defense does not make it easy to plan for but they will go base defense against 12 personnel quite often. The Eagles can use that to their advantage and may want to go 12 personnel in order to throw on the Giants.

This is very important. The Giants will quite often stack the box and play a one-high shell. But they have an equal split between one-high and two-high. The last time the Eagles played the Giants, they ran a lot against two-high shells and went vertical against one-high shells.

This is the match right here. The Giants love to play man coverage and love to blitz as much as anyone in the league. We will get to that later...

Statistical Matchup

Now let’s look at the Eagles’ offensive rankings and the Giants' defensive rankings.

The Eagles' offense is clearly much better than the Giants’ defense. In pretty much every single category, the Eagles have the advantage here. The Giants are not a horrible pass defense but it has been a good defense this year.

Key Matchups

Early down run game

The mismatch of the game is clearly the Giants' run defense. Yes, they shut down Dalvin Cook last week but the Vikings' run game is terrible anyway.

On 1st down, the Giants’ defense has allowed 1360 yards (4th worst) on 255 carries (5.3 YPA) and 8 TDs.

On 2nd down, the Giants’ defense has allowed 709 yards (10th) on 131 carries (5.4 YPA) and 5 TDs.

In particular, the Eagles have had success with gap scheme runs against the Giants this year.

You will notice the above run came from 12 personnel too. This is something the Eagles have liked to use against the Giants this season. The Giants do play base but they don’t always match up with base defense against 12 personnel and they seemed to play quite a lot of 2-high against the Eagles. I assume that is because they were getting burned by the Eagles' wide receivers earlier on in the game.

Empty Formation

Get ready to see the Eagles go empty a lot in this game and expect the Giants to show blitz against it. In both matchups this season, the Giants have made the decision to show blitz against the Eagles' empty formation. If the Giants are going to send 5 or 6 rushers against 5 man protection, the Eagles need to have answers. In Week 14, we saw them use DeVonta Smith on quick-out routes to beat this pressure.

I would expect to see the Eagles' favorite slot-fade to DeVonta Smith too in this game.

However, the last time the Eagles met the Giants, I thought the Giants won the battle when the Eagles went empty. The Giants ended up not rushing 6v5 and dropping men into coverage but the Eagles' protection had to prepare for 6 rushers which means Hurts often had to get rid of the ball very quickly. I think Hurts' mobility has to be a factor and if the Giants drop defenders, then Hurts should not be afraid to run it.

I think the Eagles' empty formation vs. the Giants will probably be the biggest matchup this week.

Get ready for the blitz

Hurts must be really, really prepared for the blitz this week. The Giants will bring pressure from everywhere and the Eagles must be prepared and Hurts has to be willing to stand in the pocket and get rid of the football.

In order to help out Hurts against the blitz, the Eagles will use empty formations to make the Giants declare their coverage, but they should also use some motion/bunches/stacks to help receivers get free releases and make it harder for the Giants to disguise their blitz packages. The Eagles’ offense doesn’t do this as much as I would like and I hope they do have some answers for pressure. If they don’t we may see too much of this...

If the Eagles are getting beat by pressure, I hope they use a running back or tight end in pass protection. I know the Eagles don’t love doing this, but sometimes picking up pressure is necessary and the offense should be willing to do this if necessary.

Overall, the Eagles need to be really prepared for the blitz. They haven’t handled it well so far. Against the Giants in two matchups this year (and one was against a lot of backups), the Eagles are 16/31 for 218 yards and have taken 5 sacks. That is a win for the Giants’ defense. If the Eagles can handle the Giants' blitz packages, they should easily put up points on this team.

Throw it to AJ Brown

Sometimes, football doesn’t have to be complicated. The Giants love playing man coverage with a single-high safety. This means you have a great chance of getting AJ Brown in one-on-one coverage. If the Giants want to do this, the Eagles need to move around AJ Brown and put him in different alignments to really test the Giants’ cornerbacks. We have seen AJ Brown dominate the Giants from different alignments this year, such as...

From a condensed split:

Lined up with DeVonta Smith on the same side:

As the X-Iso receiver opposite Trips (this is my favorite - it’s so hard for the safety to shade to AJ Brown’s side).

Throw out of 12 personnel

As I mentioned earlier, the Giants will match 12 personnel with base defense at times. This means you can take advantage of the Giants having only 4 defensive backs on them and throw out of 12 personnel.

The Giants’ pass defense is not good when facing 12 personnel this season. Against 12 personnel, the Giants’ defense has allowed 65 completions on 103 attempts (63%) for 841 yards (8.2 YPA). In comparison, when teams throw from 11 personnel, the Giants are only allowing 6.4 YPA. That’s a pretty substantial difference.

21 Personnel?

The Eagles pretty much never use 21 personnel, but they did use it a couple of times against the Giants earlier in the season. I doubt they will suddenly start using it a lot, but it could be something to keep an eye on early on. The Giants’ defense has allowed 388 yards on 56 carries (6.9 YPC!) as well as 20 first downs. I have no idea why, but it feels like the Giants’ defense struggles against 21 personnel so maybe this is something the Eagles will use.

At the end of the day, if the Eagles’ offense plays as well as it has all season and doesn't screw anything up, this offense will be too talented for the Giants to consistently stop it.

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