Are the Giants Super Bowl contenders?
It usually takes an elite quarterback to be the last team standing, and running back Saquon Barkley is confident the Giants have exactly that.
"I know we have an elite quarterback," said Barkley in regard to QB Daniel Jones. (h/t ESPN)
Jones was fantastic against Minnesota, going 24-of-35 for 301 yards and two touchdowns as well as leading the team in both rushing attempts (17) and yards (78).
Per ESPN's Jordan Raanan, no other QB in league history had at least 300 passing yards, two touchdowns, and 70 rushing yards in a postseason game prior to Jones.
The Giants have the tall task of going against the NFC's top-seed Philadelphia Eagles this weekend. Per Oddschecker, Philadelphia (14-3) is a 7.5-point favorite against New York (9-7-1).
With Jones and Barkley playing like stars, a New York upset isn't far-fetched. Of the two, Jones might find it tougher to replicate his performance.
One immediate mismatch in Saturday's game appears to be Philadelphia's secondary versus New York's wide receivers.
Per Football Outsiders, Philadelphia ranked first in pass defense via the site's Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) metric. DVOA measures how a particular team or unit stacks up against a league-average opponent.
As the Giants' Darius Slayton showed when he dropped an easy target on a third-and-15 that gave Minnesota a chance to tie Sunday's wild-card game, New York's receivers make life harder for Jones than it has to be. It would be generous to consider them league-average.
Oh no Darius Slayton… pic.twitter.com/QsrJOFYUnJ— OddsChecker (@OddsCheckerUS) January 16, 2023
Jones faces a great secondary this weekend and will need to rely on Barkley in the running game and as a pass catcher to extend the Giants' season, such as on this play against Minnesota.
Since he was drafted, #Giants fans have been searching for ways to utilize Saquon Barkley as a receiver. If we're being honest, he's not a great vertical route runner. But one-on-one v a LB in space? That's easy $$ Jason Garrett couldn't figure out.— Dan Schneier (@DanSchneierNFL) January 16, 2023
Mike Kafka on the other hand.. pic.twitter.com/bextnNIccQ
Barkley began the play in the backfield to Jones' right and ran to the left, breaking free from Minnesota's man coverage. He caught the crucial pass on third-and-three and gained 22 yards after the catch.
Barkley had a healthy split on his yardage on Sunday. He finished the game with nine carries for 53 yards and five receptions for 56 yards. He finished the 2022 regular season with a career-high 1,312 rushing yards.
If the Eagles have a weakness, it's their rush defense. They allowed 121.6 yards per game during the regular season, 16th in the NFL.
Barkley will need to exploit that weakness, as well as win matchups against linebackers in the passing game.
Per Pro Football Focus, among linebackers with at least 300 snaps while in coverage this season (52 players), Eagles linebacker T.J. Edwards graded as the seventh best.
Philadelphia has an answer for a lot of the things that the Giants can throw at them. We haven't even mentioned the Giants have the worst rush defense per DVOA while the Eagles average the fifth most rush yards (147.6) per game.
It will take a Herculean effort for New York to win. Barkley believes that Jones is elite. Both need to be for the Giants to shock the world.
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