The Eagles are going back to the NFC Championship Game after beating the Giants! First time they’ve ever gone 3-0 against an opponent in one season. Time to hand out some winners, losers, and IDKs.
The (relatively) sluggish finish to the regular season had some wondering just how good this team is entering the playoffs.
The Eagles left no doubt on Saturday night. With Jalen Hurts and Lane Johnson able to be effective, this is the best team in the NFL.
They can absolutely win the Super Bowl.
The biggest question entering this game: just how healthy is Hurts’ shoulder?
When asked about it, Philly’s star quarterback keeps saying “good enough.” But perhaps he’s underselling his health considering he started this game by completing his first seven pass attempts for 89 yards, two touchdowns, and a 158.3 passer rating to give the Birds a 14 to 0 lead.
Hurts was also able to handle six designed QB runs. His nine total rushing attempts went for 34 yards and one score.
Hurts is seemingly still playing through pain. Leading up to the Divisional Round game, he told Pam Oliver that he is “nowhere near 100%.”
And yet it’s difficult to tell that’s the case since he looks pretty good out there.
Hurts was not perfect, to be clear. Based on my angle from the press box, I thought he underthrew DeVonta for what could’ve been a touchdown instead of just a 40-yard gain. He overthrew A.J. Brown in the end zone later in the game.
Ultimately, though, he played well and never really put the ball in harm’s way.
As someone who was skeptical about Hurts’ passing ability entering this season, I’ve reached a point where I unequivocally trust him. It’s not dissimilar to the feeling I reached with Nick Foles back during his Super Bowl run.
Hurts is in command. You can trust him to deliver.
Best passer rating performances in Eagles playoff history— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) January 22, 2023
1) Rodney Peete in Dec 1995: 143.3
2) Nick Foles in Jan 2018: 141.4
3) Jalen Hurts in Jan 2023: 112.2
Many used the term “warrior” to describe Johnson’s valiant effort to play the entire game* through a painful groin injury. It’s well-deserved praise.
Merely making it through the night was an accomplishment. To play at a very high level on top of that? Incredible. Johnson did have two penalties but he allowed zero pressures. That was huge.
And perhaps this showing indicates he’ll continue to be able to play well through pain for what is hopefully two more games.
*Johnson was able to rest for three garbage time snaps towards the end of the fourth quarter.
THE ENTIRE OFFENSIVE LINE
I wanted to single out Johnson given his unique situation but, really, all five starters up front deserve a lot of credit.
They mashed the Giants on the ground.
The Eagles’ 268 rushing yards were the 2nd-most in team playoff history, trailing only 274 yards in the 1949 NFL Championship Game.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) January 22, 2023
It’s the most rushing yards by any NFL team in a postseason game since the 49ers had 285 yards vs. the Packers in the 2019 NFC Championship Game.
Jason Kelce destroyed a dude with one arm:
Jeff Stoutland’s unit shut down AP All-Pro second-team interior defender Dexter Lawrence:
What a difference a week (and an OL) makes. Last week Dexter Lawrence was an absolute wrecking force vs the Vikings.— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) January 22, 2023
This week as @DaveSulfaro points out, against the Eagles, he had zero pressures for the first game this season
The Eagles won Super Bowl LII in no small part due to having an elite offensive line. This unit is more than capable of leading them to another Vince Lombardi Trophy.
17.5 sacks in 18 games this season. Dude’s a beast.
Pro Football Focus credited Reddick with seven pressures on 24 pass rushing snaps.
The Giants had 19 different players who took defensive snaps in this game. They all combined for seven pressures.
Reddick was an elite free agent signing. He plays a premium position and puts up premium production despite not even ranking top 15 among annual edge rusher contract value.
He’s probably only going to continue to be a terror for opposing quarterback(s) in the playoffs.
The head coach clearly had his team ready to play.
The offense was humming.
No big game management issues, though one could quibble about taking a delay of game from the Giants’ 38-yard line to punt instead of going for it on 4th-and-8.
The biggest criticism levied at Sirianni in this game came from non-Eagles fans. Not everyone seemed to love him looking into the camera and nodding after a touchdown. Or how he told an official how he “knows what the f***” he is doing.
To outsiders learning more about Sirianni now that he’s on a bigger national stage, he may be insufferable. But that only makes him more endearing in Philly.
Very fun to see opposing fans lose their minds as the Eagles are beating them and Sirianni is acting like a nut. Eagles players seem to like it!
First drive: 8 plays, 75 yards, TD.
Second drive: 8 plays, 52 yards, TD.
Third drive: 3 plays, -3 yards, punt. (False start and a dropped third down conversion.)
Fourth drive: 9 plays, 63 yards, TD.
Fifth drive: 14 plays, 72 yards, TD.
And just like that, the Eagles entered halftime up 28 to 0. Kudos to the offensive coordinator for overseeing such success.
The Giants were limited to just seven points and 4.4 yards per play. The Eagles’ defensive coordinator deserves credit for doing his part to shut down a Giants offense that regularly maximized their (admittedly limited) talent this season.
It was fun to see how Gannon’s coaching actually helped to force a turnover in this game. By sending C.J. Gardner-Johnson on a nickel cornerback blitz, he forced Daniel Jones to get the ball out hot ... and James Bradberry was able to jump the route for an interception. How about Gannon being aggressive?!
The pick was impressive, too, because Jones and the Giants did such a good job of taking care of the ball this season. Only one team (the Detroit Lions) had fewer giveaways in 2022. The Giants were the team with the fewest interceptions.
I wrote this about Bradberry following the Eagles’ Week 18 win:
Must be a good feeling to get two wins over the team that cut you (and cost you a chance to make more money) in the same season.
Make that three wins and an interception in a game that sealed his old team’s fate.
Who saw Gainwell having a career game in this one!? 12 carries for 112 yards (surpassing his previous career high of 78) and a touchdown.
Kudos to Kenny G for running hard. He forced four missed tackles and logged 3.83 yards after contact per attempt.
For context, Rhamondre Stevenson ranked second in the NFL in that category this season with 3.81.
The Eagles have been trusting Gainwell as their third down back and it’s been working recently. Nice to be able to utilize him as a complementary piece in the running game.
Still don’t love the idea of targeting him too often when there are much more preferable pass-catching options but credit to him for stepping it.
Kenneth Gainwell's 121 total yards from scrimmage were the most by an Eagle in the postseason since Jeremy Maclin's 146 yards against Dallas in January 2010.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) January 22, 2023
Sanders also ran hard, logging 17 carries for 90 yards (5.3 average) and 3.17 yards after contact per attempt.
The Giants gotta be sick of this dude.
Goedert was expected to have a big game since the Giants have bad linebackers. We had just seen T.J. Hockenson go off against them.
Sure enough, Goedert caught all five of his targets for 58 yards (11.6 average) and one touchdown. His score came on a play where he caught the ball with just one hand — his non-dominant hand! — outstretched and then fought through contact to get into the end zone.
DeVonta led all Eagles pass-catchers in targets (10), receptions (6), and receiving yards (61). His 40-yard reception on the Eagles’ first passing play helped to set the tone.
Playing for the first time since getting carted off the field and hospitalized, Sweat posted 1.5 sacks ... including a forced fumble. Sweat is up to 12.5 sacks in 17 games played this season.
For the first time all season, Pascal outsnapped Quez Watkins. His increased role likely had to do with the Eagles’ run-heavy approach. But it also might speak to the coaching staff trusting him more than Quez, who struggled down the stretch.
Pascal did a great job of springing Goedert’s touchdown by running his route to where he was close to picking a Giants defender without actually touching him to draw the penalty. Doing the dirty work.
Kern has really stunk it up since joining the Eagles. Saturday night was different, however, with the veteran punter landing three of his three punts inside the 20-yard line. His longest boot went for 53 yards. Encouraging.
The talent disparity between the Eagles and Giants was on full display. The Eagles’ general manager deserves a lot of credit for stacking this roster.
I’m so glad I never doubted this guy.
They’ve certainly had some struggles over the years but, on the whole, the Eagles have been pretty, pretty good under the current ownership.
This is the Eagles’ 7th conference title game appearance since 2001, which is the 2nd most in the NFL during that span. Only the Patriots have been to more (13).— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) January 22, 2023
Kudos to Eli for being a good sport and having some fun.
Lol, they just showed Eli Manning here at The Linc. He smiled and waved as they booed. Then they showed Malcom Jenkins/Brent Celek/Torrey Smith to switch to cheers. And then back to Eli for more boos as he motioned pumping up the crowd. pic.twitter.com/Xp6av0sotG— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) January 22, 2023
ROB “STATS” GUERRERA
Unfortunately, Stats was laid off late last week. It was a shocking development. He’s incredibly talented and driven. I’m really going to miss working with him. He started as my co-worker but we became fast friends. Despite this temporary setback, he’s always a winner in my book.
Anyone would be very wise to hire Stats now that he’s available. In the meantime, please support his work. He’s an especially great follow considering who the Eagles are playing in the NFCCG.
BGN SAME GAME PARLAY BETTORS
BGN’s DraftKings Sportsbook SGP this week had +750 odds. So, if you bet $10, you won $75! Hopefully we were able to help make you some money.
Only regret is we didn’t go with the Eagles’ spread instead of the moneyline. Would’ve been able to make you even more!
I’ve written and talked about this before ... but I’ll say it again. The Eagles have owned the Giants for so long now that it’s not even a rivalry anymore. Eliminating them from the playoffs was nowhere near as satisfying as it would be to have ended the Cowboys’ season. And that’s a testament to how one-sided it’s been in the Birds’ favor.
The Eagles are now 24-6 in their last 30 games against the G-Men.
It’s possible that the Giants are going to be pose more of a challenge moving forward. Brian Daboll is certainly a good head coach. Joe Schoen is an upgrade on dinosaur Dave Gettleman.
But just because the Giants overachieved this season and appear to be trending in a positive direction doesn’t guarantee they’ll make the next step. Progress isn’t always linear.
This is a big offseason for Big Blue. What’s Daniel Jones’ seemingly inevitable contract extension look like? And is he really someone for the Eagles to be scared of? Is Saquon Barkley going to be back when paying runners typically isn’t a good idea?
They have to play the Eagles in Philly this weekend. And on short rest by comparison. Good luck!
They lost to this Giants team last weekend ... at home!
And as if that wasn’t bad enough, they had to be reminded of 38 to 7 happening with the Eagles winning 38 to 7 on the fifth anniversary of that NFC Championship Game.
Dak Prescott choked away the opportunity to set up the threematch.
Don’t miss RJ Ochoa of Blogging The Boys having to come to terms with yet another Cowboys season ending in disappointing fashion on this week’s volume of The NFC East Mixtape podcast!
I DON’T KNOWS
A little odd that Brown was so sulky on the sideline at one point late in the Eagles’ win. Sirianni indicated that Brown was frustrated about getting banged up but said he’ll be able to play against the 49ers.
Brown only had six targets for three catches and 22 yards in this game. He would’ve had a touchdown had Hurts not overthrown him in the end zone.
Methinks he’s going to have a big day in the NFCCG.
Maddox was seen walking around without a walking boot on his foot. Might he be ready to return this weekend?
And if he is ready to play, do the Eagles want to take CJGJ out of the slot and put him back at safety when Reed Blankenship has been making nice contributions there? Will be interesting to see how this is handled.
At the very least, it seems like Maddox will be able to play in the Super Bowl ... if/when the Eagles make it there.
Don’t want to put any Eagles in the “Losers” section after a win like that. But Quez is the closest Bird to making that category. For the first time since Week 1, he did not see a single target. And he got demoted from his WR3 role since he was outsnapped by Pascal.
Watkins should not be phased out of the offense entirely since he still offers value as a deep threat. But his late season struggles may have cost him snaps he’d otherwise be getting.