New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
With a bye week to rest and recover from a sprained shoulder, quarterback Jalen Hurts is presumed to be good to go for the top-seeded Eagles in the divisional round. Yet while Hurts has been the most valuable player on a 14-win team, he’s also the biggest cause for concern as Philadelphia prepares for its playoff opener.
Hurts has not played much since suffering the injury on Dec. 18, and he admittedly played through severe pain in the regular-season finale against the Giants. A week off is unlikely to cure all, and the situation could worsen if Hurts takes a hard hit on the shoulder during this weekend’s game. At full strength, Philadelphia is far superior to the Giants, but it seems Hurts is not going to be at full speed.
In Week 14, when the Eagles embarrassed the Giants 48-22 in New York, Hurts accounted for 294 total yards (217 passing, 77 rushing) and three touchdowns. Philadelphia piled up 437 yards of total offense and its defense allowed only 304. But there is a difference between the two teams from then to now. The Eagles lost both games Hurts missed with the injury, and they struggled during a 22-16 victory over the Giants in Week 18, when New York rested several starters, including quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley.
The Giants suddenly have the look of a potential Cinderella team in this postseason. It’s not a miracle, but the work Brian Daboll has done in his first year as New York’s coach is impressive. Daboll took over a team that finished 4-13 and turned it around to 9-7-1 before winning a wild-card game at Minnesota. Daboll has Jones playing with confidence for the first time in his career. Jones passed for 301 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 78 yards in the 31-24 victory over the Vikings. Still, the Giants are stepping up in class this week. Jones’ mobility will be needed against a Philadelphia defense that leads the league in sacks (70) and ranks No. 1 against the pass (180 yards per game).
Sharp money showed on the Eagles at -7, pushing the line to 7.5. It’s important to note the sharps are not laying 7.5. The initial flood of Philadelphia money was all about the number. The Eagles also will be a popular teaser play at -1.5, and there’s nothing wrong with that strategy.
The opening line looked like a bargain price on Philadelphia, assuming Hurts has a healthy shoulder. Even if Hurts is limited, the Eagles should be OK considering they are better than the Giants at almost every position on the field. Daboll is a rising star as a coach, but he’s also overachieving with a roster that needs talent upgrades in the offseason. The Eagles are talented enough to win a Super Bowl now.