NFC Divisional Round preview: Cowboys vs 49ers, and Giants vs Eagles
This week brings us some marquee matchups between some of the biggest teams in the NFC with a spot in the Conference Championship on the line.
The first round of playoff matches are in the books and the NFC Championship is inching closer as the Philadelphia Eagles join the party this week following their first round bye. Last weekend, the Niners extended their win streak to 11 straight games, the Giants took down the Vikings in Minnesota and Cowboys avenged their Week 1 loss against the Bucs on Monday Night.
Eagles vs. Giants Saturday, January 21, 8:15 p.m. ET from Lincoln Financial Field
We are set for an NFC East showdown in the Divisional Round of the playoffs after the Giants edged out the Vikings from U.S. Bank Stadium and now it’s Philly who await them this weekend.
The Eagles got to relax and watch the first batch of playoff games from the comfort of their living rooms after earning the top seed in the NFC and a first round bye last week. Jalen Hurts and the Eagles have looked like the most balanced team in the league all season, with their running game and passing game being equally as effective and the defense is a top five unit in the league for those rare days where the offense doesn’t show up.
They were 13-1 before Jalen Hurts was sidelined with a shoulder injury that forced him to miss two games before returning in Week 18 against the Giants. Garner Minshew filled in for Hurts under center and the Eagles stayed in both of those games against the Cowboys and the Saints but ended up dropping both. Hurts returned in the final week of the season and returned his side to the win column with a narrow win over the Giants in the week leading up to the postseason.
The Giants seemed like they could do no wrong for the first half of the season, winning seven of their first nine games and the belief started to grow in the Big Apple. Saquon Barkley finally started the season healthy and QB Daniel Jones began to look like the quarterback the Giants thought they were getting when they drafted him 6th overall in the 2019 draft.
There was a sense of belief you saw from the Giants that made them think they could win every game, but that sensation faded quickly when Brian Daboll’s team won just two of their final eight games. Even though they beat the Vikings last week, this still gives the impression of a fragile team that may not be ready for the spotlight.
The big question coming into the weekend is the status Jalen Hurts’ shoulder. The Eagles may have won their Week 18 game against the Giants, but the offense wasn’t flowing like we have seen for most of the season. The Eagles will want to control the clock and keep Saquon Barkley from having a break out playoff performance. The Eagles defensive line will be locked in on Jones, and the linebackers will recognize the danger he has with his legs.
The Eagles won both games against the Giants this year, and they will need Hurts to be at his best against a New York team looking to ruin the Eagles run to the Super Bowl.
Cowboys vs. 49ers, Sunday January 22nd at 6:30 p.m. from Levi Stadium
For a second straight year, two teams who dominated the 1990′s will meet in the postseason as both franchise look to return to Super Bowl glory. After the Niners last second victory over the Cowboys in the 2022 NFC Divisional Round, the historical rivals will once again face each other in this year’s NFC Divisonal Round; this time at the home of the , Levi’s stadium.
Just as California is overcoming its battle with mother nature, a powerful storm is brewing in the form of two NFL heavyweights. Despite the 49ers being four point favorites over their division rivals, both teams share similar characteristics.
The 49ers, led by the rookie wunderkind, Brock Purdy, is comprised of many lethal offensive weapons and the leagues’ number ones defense. They’ll be coming off of eight rest day after their pounding of the Seattle Seahawks in last week’s 41-23 Wild Card matchup. Although the 49ers were off to a slow start, they turned on their turbochargers in the second half and clipped the Seahawk’s wings. Purdy threw for three TDs and had a rushing TD in his playoff debut as Christian McCaffery and Deebo Samuel had touchdowns of their own.
The Cowboys uprooted the Tom Brady led Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a one-sided 31-14 victory. The offense was on overdrive and the Cowboys defense made the GOAT look more like a sheep as the Boys avenged their Week 1 loss that saw Dak Prescott sidelined for a few weeks with a finger injury.
Prescott allowed Dallas fans to breath easy after he ended his regular season in horrendous fashion against the Washington Commanders. He completed 50% of his passes in Week 18 and thew a pick and fumbled as the Cowboys scored just six points. Against the Bucs stingy defense Prescott threw for four touchdowns and ran in another one as the Boys eased past Brady and Tampa Bay.
The only sign of trouble was Brett Maher was 1/5 on PAT attempts, which does not bode well heading towards the playoffs where game can be decided by a field goal or less.
The Cowboys are looking to get back to the Super Bowl for the first time this millennium, but it is not going to be easy against a team that is stacked with weapons from top to bottom. San Fran has not lost since bringing Chrisitan McCaffery to the Bay in a midseason trade and Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy is off to a 6-0 start to begin his NFL career. Dallas has become notorious for underperforming and underachieving in the playoffs and if they lose to San Fran this weekend then it will be the same old narrative. Dak has to be perfect against the Niners top ranked defense, as Purdy looks to cement his legacy in the pages of the NFL history books.
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