Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Giants
Line: Philadelphia -14.5
Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
When: Sunday, 1/8 at 4:25 p.m. ET
The Philadelphia Eagles are officially out of wiggle room when it comes to securing the top seed in the NFC.
They have lost two straight games, putting them in a must-win position against NFC East rival New York on Sunday afternoon if they want to clinch the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. If New York pulls off an upset, the Cowboys and 49ers would both be alive for the top spot in the conference.
“We were looking too far forward,” Eagles cornerback James Bradberry said. “We kind of lost track of being in the moment and taking advantage of the opportunity we had at hand. So now we’re in this position and we can’t do anything about it. All we can do is prepare throughout this week and try and go out there and dominate and win a game.”
This might be the perfect opportunity to dominate an opponent, as the Giants are firmly locked into the No. 6 seed in the NFC heading into the final week of the regular season. They are expected to rest several key starters on Sunday, according to the New York Post. Head coach Brian Daboll has already ruled out defensive tackle Leonard Williams (neck) and pass rusher Azeez Ojulari (ankle), while decisions have reportedly not been made about quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley.
“You just got to make a good decision based on information and the things you talk about with the people on your staff and make the decision that you think is right for your team,” Daboll said. “If you go out there and lay an egg, it’s the wrong decision. If you win, it’s the right decision. So, that doesn’t affect it either way.”
The betting market certainly seems to have an opinion on their respective statuses. Philadelphia opened as a 3.5-point favorite at Caesars Sportsbook before the postseason circumstances caused the line to shoot up to -14.5. The total opened at 40.5 and has shifted up to 43 points as of early Saturday.
New York clinched its first playoff berth since 2016 with its 38-10 win over Indianapolis last week. The Giants have been dealing with key injuries on offense all season, so it would make sense to rest key players this week. If Jones winds up sitting out, Tyrod Taylor would be in line to start.
Taylor has made 53 starts in his career, completing 60.7% of his passes for 966 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions in six starts with Houston last season. He has only thrown six passes for the Giants this season, but offensive coordinator Mike Kafka said “he’s a great asset to have” earlier this week.
Philadelphia, meanwhile, should have no problem getting motivated for this matchup. The Eagles could have secured the top seed with a win over Dallas in Week 16 or a win over New Orleans in Week 17, but they failed to do so on both occasions. Star quarterback Jalen Hurts is expected to return from a shoulder injury on Sunday, though.
He has reportedly not had any setbacks in his recovery from a right shoulder sprain that sidelined him the last two weeks. Hurts has completed 67.3% of his passes for 3,472 yards, 22 touchdowns and five interceptions, while also rushing for 747 yards and 13 touchdowns.
“It’s hard to keep him down because of how tough he is, the kind of competitor he is,” Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said. “He wants to go.”
New York is 5-1 against the spread in its last six games, while Philadelphia is 3-6 ATS in its last nine games. The Eagles have won eight straight home games against New York, and they have gone ‘over’ the total in six of their last seven home games. The Giants have cashed the ‘over’ in five of their last seven contests.
The pick: Philadelphia -14 (Circa)
Handicapping games during the final week of the regular season can be the trickiest task in the NFL, as some teams try to hide their plan for resting starters. All signs are pointing towards New York having primarily backups on the field for this game, while Philadelphia is expected to have its star quarterback return. This is the perfect recipe for a blowout, as the Eagles are not only motivated to clinch the No. 1 seed, but they also want to make a statement to the rest of the NFC following a few sub-par performances without Hurts on the field. The final cherry on top is a chance to blow out a division rival, whether the Giants have their stars on the field or not.