Seventeen games and now you’re living on the edge. The Eagles have won 14 games in this season of wonderment and surprise. Fourteen isn’t enough.
One game could remain, one game to justify your season, one game to make sure your season isn’t considered something of a failure.
Lose to the Giants, and that’s what the vast majority of the fans will believe — the season was fun but look what happened.
Everything the Eagles have worked for since training camp — year-round, really — boils down to 60 minutes against a team they have defeated twice this season.
3 PREDICTIONS YOU’LL LIKE
1. HURTS IS BACK, RIGHT?
Jalen Hurts has been a full practice participant this week for the first time since before he was injured against the Bears on Dec. 18.
When Hurts has spoken publicly the past few weeks, he has talked about previously playing when he wasn’t 100 percent healthy.
- On Tuesday, he said: “I’m going to go out there and play my game. Whatever happens, happens.”
Expect to see an early-season Hurts — with the called-run plays that make his passing game even more potent. The season is on the line. Hurts will do what he can and that is trouble for the Giants.
There might be some rust — after all, he has played one game in nearly five weeks. But I think Hurts comes out firing and running, and the Eagles follow.
Jalen Hurts & Lane Johnson Injury Status according to Dr. Bruce Grossinger.
2. IF YOU TOLD ME …
… You would have to defeat Daniel Jones and, perhaps, Brock Purdy to get to the Super Bowl — you would take it.
… You would have 21 of your 22 opening-game starters (reasonably) healthy — you would love it. Right tackle Lane Johnson was a full practice participant Thursday and is expected to play.
… Your offense would be ranked third in the NFL, and your defense would be ranked second — you would be a very happy Eagles fan.
The Eagles have all of the above in their favor. They simply have too much on their side to not win this game. Expect a big performance from a bye-rested, focused team.
3. EAGLES WIN
Since Boston Scott is healthy, you can assume the Eagles won’t get shut out. Scott has scored 17 career touchdowns, 10 against Big Blue.
In the teams’ first meeting, the Eagles’ defense sacked Daniel Jones four times and back-up Tyrod Taylor three times.
The Eagles haven’t played well since blowing out the Giants, 48-22, on Dec. 11. Is their recent cringe-worthy play an indicator of what to expect Saturday night? Or, is their entire 17-game resume a better gauge?
You are what your record says you are. Eagles, 27-13.
3 PREDICTIONS YOU WON’T LIKE
1. GIANTS LOVE THE BLITZ
Wink Martindale’s defense blitzed more than any team in the league this season. The Giants led the league in blitzing the quarterback at 39.7 percent. The Eagles were 18th at 22.1 percent.
Sacks were another story. The Eagles led the league with 70, meaning they won a ton of one-on-one battles. The Giants had 41 sacks, 13th in the league.
Here’s why the Eagles should be concerned. The Giants are coming hard after Hurts and if his mobility is compromised, the Giants could raise all kinds of havoc.
Hurts was sacked three times in Week 18, one heavily populated by Giants’ back-ups.
You better believe Wink, who enjoys the blitz anyway, will send his defenders full bore at Hurts. They are going to test him early, to see what he has.
The Eagles better be ready with draw plays, quick screens and misdirection to keep the Giants off-balance. If the Giants win, it’s because their defense contains and controls Hurts.
2. JONES AND BARKLEY
The Giants enjoyed their first playoff win in 11 years when they defeated the host Vikings on Sunday.
- “He played extremely well,” defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon said about Jones.
- “Their offense was clicking on all cylinders. He made a lot of plays, a lot of throws. He used his legs at the right times to extend drives and get some first downs.”
Saquon Barkley looked frisky and quick while barely being used. He gained 53 yards on nine carries. He always seems to hurt the Eagles.
But he didn’t hurt the Eagles in the Giants’ Week 14 loss. He gained just 28 yards, his second-lowest total of the season.
Jones and Barkley are the path to a Giants win. If they play well — and I expect that — this could be a terrific game.
3. GIANTS WIN
Too much works *against* the Giants:
- Road game
- Crazy crowd
- Rested Eagles
- Lost the first two meetings this year
- Seems like the Eagles’ year
- Statistics are overwhelmingly in the Eagles’ favor
Still, upsets happen in sports and they especially happen in the NFL. The consensus is this will be a close game. Of the Giants’ 10 wins, nine have been one-score games.
The Giants know how to win and they believe they have all of the momentum. Sold: Giants, 19-17.