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Giants Kickoff: Three things to watch for in Week 16

Christmas day. Giants at Eagles. The Eagles are fighting for the 1 seed and the Giants for a top-5 draft pick. The Eagles are favored by 14 points and kickoff is slated for 4:30pm EST from Lincoln Financial Field.

The Giants haven't won in Philadelphia in ten years

The Philadelphia Eagles have had the New York Giants number for well over 10 years.

Just take a look at the above. The games speak for themselves. The last time the Giants beat the Eagles on the road was October 27th, 2013 and Peyton Hillis was the lead back with 20 rushing attempts for 70 yards. The guy that graced Madden 12 and eventually fell victim to the 'Madden Curse' was the starting running back for the Giants in that game.

The Eagles and Cowboys are the Giants kryptonite, and ever since the Giants won their last Super Bowl in 2012, their performance against two of their most hated divisional rivals has been sub-par at most. I wrote about their record against the Cowboys over a similar span in an earlier post this season.

3-15 against a divisional opponent in a span of 10 years is unacceptable. Turning those fortunes around could start with a statement win in Philadelphia on Christmas day where the Giants could lend the Eagles their fourth straight loss and cause chaos in the fight for the 1 seed in the NFC.

Picture this: Tommy DeVito goes into Philly on Christmas Day, stays calm and collected, flashes shades of brilliance, and beats Philly on their own turf for the first time in 10 years. Sounds like a dream I had the other night.

The defense has to hold their own

Last week, the defense was solid for most of the game. Although they lost 24-6, most of those points came in the third quarter (17). At halftime, it was 7-6 Saints and the Giants were able to force a punt on three out of the four Saints possessions in the first half.

The key factor to sustained success for this defense is to force turnovers and to get the ball back into the hands of the offense. They were unable to force a single turnover last week and had one sack to boot. That outcome is a recipe for disaster and they have to win the turnover battle if they are going to win games. With the offense still finding it's identity under Tommy DeVito and high-powered playmakers on the Eagles side, there needs to be an emphasis on pressuring Jalen Hurts and forcing him into mistakes.

The bright spot that stuck out to me from last week's performance was that the Giants allowed just 209 yards passing and 87 yards rushing. Allowing under 250 passing yards and 100 rushing yards is a win in my book. And for this team, anything that provides them with a confidence boost should be lauded. Alvin Kamara was really the only guy that made a dent in the Giants D last week, as he tallied 110 yards from scrimmage in the game. That is a whopping 37% of the Saints yardage output. There needs to be added emphasis on guys like A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith because the Eagles will attack downfield with them early and often. Deonte Banks and Adoree Jackson will have their hands full, but with the way in which Xavier McKinney and Jason Pinnock are playing, they will have solid help behind them to corral two of the best receivers in the league.

Keys to the game:

  • Wink Martindale needs to dial up pressure early and get guys like Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari involved. The Giants sat back in a lot of zone looks last week and didn't pressure Derek Carr as much as they should have

  • Turnovers need to be forced - When on their three game winning streak, the Giants forced 11 turnovers

Tommy DeVito is competing for a spot on next year's team

Daniel Jones won't be back until at least November 2024, and who knows what the Giants will do in the first round of the NFL draft come April. Caleb Williams and Drake Maye will almost certainly be off the board by the time the Giants pick comes around, and knowing Joe Schoen, he will treat this pick delicately and will not pick a quarterback just to pick one. The Giants have been active in scouting college quarterbacks, but they will ensure they have the right guy in mind if they do indeed pull the trigger.

For the rest of the 2023 season, the starting quarterback role will be Tommy DeVito's to lose. This is his time to prove himself over a large enough sample size to warrant the Giants bringing him back next year to be the number two guy behind Daniel Jones. Frankly, he has done a great job when given the opportunity to start. Since his first full game reps against the Las Vegas Raiders (counting this one because he entered the game early), he has tallied:

  • 1,033 yards passing (172 yards per game)

  • 178 yards rushing (roughly 30 yards per game)

  • 8:3 TD:INT

  • 66% completion percentage

I probably sound like a broken record, but for an undrafted rookie that was written off before even stepping foot on the field I'd say that's a pretty solid stat line. He has shown he can throw the ball and use his legs when he needs to and that type of dual threat quarterback is exactly what teams are looking for from a quarterback in the modern NFL.

Listen, DeVito is by no means the Giants savior at quarterback but having a guy like him that the Giants know they can rely on to step in and take the reigns of an offense is worth it's weight in gold. Not only that, but the team has rallied around him like we haven't seen in years from the Giants organization. They are feeding off of his confidence and live every moment like it's his last attitude because they know that he is fighting just as hard as them out there.

Those Eagles fans aren't going to be saying Merry Christmas, I'll tell you that.

Final Thoughts

Rivalry games on significant American holidays are always fun, and especially so when it's between two teams and fanbases that tend to have a lot of animosity toward one another. The Giants don't like the Eagles and the Eagles don't like the Giants, simple as that.

The Eagles are a true Super Bowl contender that have slipped of late and lost the coveted one seed in the NFC. They will be fighting to regain their footing for the top spot today. The Giants are once again in conversations around securing a top-5 pick in the 2024 NFL draft and the 2023 season is all but finished. However, with Tommy DeVito under center and the Giants playing with a nothing to lose mentality, it wouldn't be surprising to me if they go out there today and compete their tails off.

Give me something to root for. Let's go Giants.


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