The Philadelphia Eagles are the number-one seed in the NFC!
It wasn’t the prettiest performance but they defeated the New York Giants 22-16, completing the season sweep. The road to the Super Bowl runs through Philadelphia. The final score was deceptive, as the Eagles were in control the entire game.
Let’s look at the hungry dog (player/coach of the game) and bird in the doghouse (worst player/coach of the game) performances against the New York Giants. There will not be a prediction for the Eagles’ matchup in the divisional round in two weeks, as the opponent is currently unknown.
A divisional matchup looms with most likely the Dallas Cowboys, or Tampa Bay Buccaneers, depending on the outcomes of the current NFL playoff schedule.
Week 18 – Hungry Dog WINNER, Giants @ Eagles
Jalen Hurts is my hungry dog this week because he’s that important.
The last two weeks showed Eagles fans, media, and the team how important Hurts is to the team. The Eagles went 0-2 with Gardener Minshew, and the team is 14-1 with Hurts under center this season. Even though we witnessed a vanilla Eagles offense, Jalen made plays with his arm that allowed the Eagles to reach the red zone on multiple drives.
It was clear that Steichen called a conservative gameplan with no designed quarterback runs, and Jalen made the most of it. Even limited by Steichen and the right side of the offensive line, Jalen Hurts passed for 225 yards. He didn’t throw a touchdown pass but should have as it was nullified by a poor “illegal man downfield” penalty. His interception following never happens if the penalty doesn’t.
Despite it, Hurts spread the ball around to AJ Brown for 95 yards, Devonta Smith for 67 yards, and Dallas Goedert for 46. It wasn’t a perfect performance, but it was enough against the Giants’ reserves. Although he didn’t gain many yards on the ground, he didn’t hesitate to take off and escape the pocket when he needed to.
The Hurts-led Eagles offense broke multiple records.
- AJ Brown broke Mike Quick’s Eagles record for receiving yards in a season.
- Devonta Smith has 91 catches this season, an Eagles franchise record.
- The offense also scored 477 points this season, which breaks the single-season record of 474 points scored.
With the game being close at the end and Steichen’s conservative offense, it’s very believable that the Eagles do not win this game with Gardener Minshew at the helm.
Week 18 – Bird In The Doghouse, Giants @ Eagles
Last week I predicted that Shane Steichen would make this a tougher matchup than it should have been.
Unfortunately, I was right. Coming into the game, Hurts’ shoulder was expected to be sore. Steichen still dropped him back to pass more than he should have. 35 attempts is not a ton on any given Sunday, but this was a game meant for the running game to control.
It’s shocking that there wasn’t a higher percentage of runs, given the Giants’ abysmal run defense.
- They allowed 144 rushing yards per game coming into this matchup, and Steichen refused to capitalize.
- Boston Scott rushed for 54 yards, averaging 6 yards a carry.
- Kenneth Gainwell rushed for 35 yards, averaging 7 yards a carry.
- Miles Sanders rushed for 33 yards, averaging only 3 yards a carry, but he was nursing an injury.
Jack Driscoll struggled at right tackle in Lane Johnson’s absence and the right side of the offensive line saw consistent pressure. Steichen never adjusted despite the offensive line excelling at run blocking. If the Eagles had run the ball consistently, it’s likely they would have converted in the red zone.
The lone Eagles’ touchdown was an 8-yard run by Boston Scott. The running game averages 5 yards a carry on the season, and Steichen is going to have to utilize it to take the pressure off Hurts’ shoulder in the postseason. The positive side to all this is Hurts knocking off the rust, and showing us that even with the injury, he can still throw the football. Hurts has two weeks to rest his shoulder, and Steichen has two weeks to ramp up his creativity.
How’d I Do?
- Who would be your hungry dog and bird in the doghouse picks for the Eagles’ game against the New York Giants?
- Who do you think will be the biggest difference makers and disappointments for the Eagles heading into the divisional round of the playoffs?
- Did this week’s game shake your confidence, or are you a believer that momentum heading into the playoffs means nothing?