5 things to watch as Giants face Eagles in Week 18

Brian Daboll
Brian Daboll / Vincent Carchietta - USA TODAY Sports

It's weird that Sunday’s regular season finale holds no playoff meaning for the Giants, but is very important to the Eagles.

Philadelphia has been, ahem, soaring at the top of the conference most of the season, but to clinch the No. 1 seed on the NFC side of the postseason bracket, Philly must beat the Giants or hope the Dallas Cowboys lose to the Washington Commanders and the San Francisco 49ers fall to the Arizona Cardinals. Big Blue will be the sixth seed no matter what happens.

We’ll see on game day who plays and how much for both teams. Dynamic Philly QB Jalen Hurts has a shoulder injury, for instance, and the Giants could rest players to lessen risk on the cusp of the playoffs.

Still, there’s plenty to keep an eye on when the teams meet in the City of Brotherly Love, including some potential records.

Here are our five things to watch in Week 18...

Danny’s docket

Daniel Jones has enjoyed the best year of his career and it could be a franchise record-breaker in a couple of statistical categories. The current Giants’ record for completion percentage in a season is 66 percent, set by Eli Manning in 2018, Jones sits at 67.2 percent entering Sunday. His interception percentage of 1.1 percent would also set a Giants record if it were to hold up.

Jones has already set personal career bests (and counting) in passing yards (3,205) and rushing yards (708) and his passer rating of 92.5 going into Sunday’s tilt would be a career-high, too. Goodness, what could he have accomplished this season if the receiving corps had not been ravaged by injury and, in some cases, underperformance?

With the Giants locked into their playoff seeding, the team elevated QB Davis Webb from the practice squad and he is reportedly expected to start on Sunday.

To rest or not to rest?

That is the question facing the Giants Sunday. It’d be nice to clip the Eagles and make them sweat out their playoff position and perhaps roar into the playoffs off a big win against a big-time team. But for a team that has dealt with so many injuries this year, it’s tempting to limit the touches of players such as Jones and Saquon Barkley and try to keep everyone healthy. But what of history’s lessons?

Big Blue played to win under Tom Coughlin in a similar situation in 2007, when the New England Patriots were trying to complete a 16-0 regular season and the Giants were already set in their playoff position. New England rallied for a 38-35 victory in a thrilling game, but the performance sent the Giants rocketing into the postseason. They beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas, and the Green Bay Packers en route to a rematch with the still-perfect Pats in Super Bowl XLII. Knowing they could hang with mighty New England after that gripping regular-season finale, the Giants pulled an upset for the ages, wrecking the Patriots’ bid for 19-0.

Maybe the Giants would’ve handled it differently had New England not been undefeated entering the regular season finale. We’ll never know. But what did happen is pretty compelling.

Pressure point

The Eagles own a dynamite pass rush and lead the NFL with a whopping 68 sacks -- 16 more than second-place New England. They need just five sacks against the Giants to set the all-time record for a single season. The mark of 72 is currently held by the 1984 Chicago Bears.

Philly has four players with double-digits in sacks – Haason Reddick (16 sacks), Josh Sweat (11), Javon Hargrave (11), and Brand Graham (11). Fletcher Cox, who is pretty much a Giant problem every time the teams meet, has seven of his own. How likely is it that the Eagles get the record? Well, they have had at least six sacks in five consecutive games. In Philadelphia’s 48-22 victory over the Giants on Dec. 11, the Eagles sacked Jones four times and Tyrod Taylor three times. The Giants have given up a total of 47 sacks, tied for the fifth-most in the NFL.

Landon spot

This is no nostalgia trip. Landon Collins, who was on the Giants for their last playoff trip in 2016 before a mid-career move to Washington, has made a nifty recent impact on the defense. His pick-six last week was one of the game’s biggest plays in the win over the Indianapolis Colts that clinched a playoff spot. Not bad for a guy who was unsigned as late as October, when the Giants added the three-time Pro-Bowler to their practice squad. He’s seen action in five games and totaled a sack and 12 tackles. Maybe he’s just getting started.

Scoreboard watching

Week 18 is not all about Giants-Eagles, obviously. What happens elsewhere, specifically in Chicago and Santa Clara, Calif., impacts the Giants directly. As the sixth seed, the Giants will face the No. 3 seed in the first round and that will either be the Vikings or the 49ers.

Minnesota (12-4) travels to play the 3-13 Bears at 1 p.m. and the Niners (12-4) host the 4-12 Cardinals at 4:25 p.m. If the Vikings win and San Francisco loses, the Vikes are the No. 2 seed. San Francisco still has a chance at the top seed – with help – and will secure at least the second spot by beating Arizona.