Following an upset victory over the Vikings in the NFC Wild Card, the New York Giants have sparked imaginations around the league as the season’s underdog. In the 21st century, the Giants have never failed to reach the Super Bowl after winning a playoff game. In 2023, however, their path goes through the Eagles, a true test that the Giants have not yet proven capable of passing.

Though New York’s victory over Minnesota was technically an upset on the road, the two teams were generally considered equal going into the event. The Vikings made history this season as the greatest overachievers in NFL history, winning 13 games despite a negative point differential one of the league’s worst defenses.

When the two teams faced off in Week 16, the Vikings beat the Giants 27-24 on a last-second field goal. So the labels of No. 3 and No. 6 seed were largely arbitrary. The difference between New York and the Philadelphia Eagles, however, is anything but.

In two games between the NFC East rivals in the regular season, the Giants have never appeared capable of challenging the Eagles at full strength. In Week 14, Philadelphia trounced New York 48-22 on the road in a game that was over well before the final kneel. A Week 18 matchup between the two teams was largely meaningless, as the Giants weren’t playing their starters, but the Eagles still won 22-16 in Jalen Hurts’ first game back from injury.

The divide between the Eagles and Giants can be drawn at nearly every skill position on offense. Though such an exercise is rudimentary and doesn’t properly evaluate the team’s overall ability, it’s still meaningful.

The Giants may have the better running back, as Saquon Barkley is marginally better than Miles Sanders, but the Eagles’ roster is simply more dynamic. Would you rather have Hurts or Daniel Jones under center? A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith at receiver or Darius Slayton and Isaiah Hodgins? At tight end, Dallas Goedert or Daniel Bellinger?

The Giants are more than their minimalist, typically run-heavy offense, as their defense has carried them a long way over the course of the season. Just last weekend, New York defenders, namely cornerback Adoree’ Jackson, held receiver Justin Jefferson to just 47 yards in a matchup that likely decided the game. But the Eagles had an even better defense during the regular season, allowing the second-fewest points in the league.

The Eagles are the No. 1 seed in the NFC for a reason, as they routinely demonstrated that they were the best team in the conference’s most competitive division. One of the few potential advantages the Giants have is familiarity. The old adage goes that it’s difficult to beat the same team three times in a row. But Philadelphia knows them well enough too, making this massive rivalry game as much a test in preparation as talent.

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Minnesota Vikings New York Giants NFL NFL Playoffs

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