The NFL postseason is moving right along as this weekend the Divisional Round will take place. In the NFC, there is one major surprise in the final four in the New York Giants, who defeated the Minnesota Vikings 31-24 in arguably the best game of Super Wild Card Weekend.
They earned the right to advance and take on their NFC East rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles, in the Divisional Round. The NFC East has turned into a beast once again as they will have a third team, the Dallas Cowboys, playing in the Divisional Round.
Dallas defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday Night Football to finish up Super Wild Card Weekend and will be taking on the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers defeated their own division rival, the Seattle Seahawks in dominant fashion, 41-23.
That sets up some classic rivalries for the Divisional Round this year. What will it take for each team to survive and advance? Here is one key to victory for each of the Giants, Eagles, Cowboys and 49ers.
New York Giants: Get Pressure On Jalen Hurts
The New York Giants are the most surprising participant in the Divisional Round in the NFC. No one thought they would make the NFL playoffs, let alone win a playoff game. Comparisons are being made to Giants teams in the past that have won in the playoffs and the hallmark of those teams was their pass rush.
For them to advance, the Giants need to get consistent pressure on Jalen Hurts this weekend. It is up for debate just how healthy Hurts is, as he was shaky against the Giants’ backups in Week 18. He completed 57.1 percent of his passes for 229 yards and one interception after making his first appearance in three weeks.
If the pass rush can get home and make him uncomfortable, it will give Big Blue their best chance to win the game. The Eagles have an excellent offensive line, making this the most important matchup in the game for the Giants. If Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams and Kayvon Thibodeaux can get home, they have a shot to pull off another upset this weekend.
Philadelphia Eagles: Getting Jalen Hurts Back In Rhythm
For the majority of the 2022 season, the Philadelphia Eagles were the most dominant team in the league. They were a top-ranked team offensive and defensively, getting it done in every facet of the game.
However, near the end of the season, they started showing some chinks in the armor with injuries arising. The most important player is quarterback Jalen Hurts, who the Eagles have to find a way to get into a rhythm.
Because of the injury that he suffered, Saturday night in the Divisional Round will only be his second appearance in five weeks. He looked out of sorts in Week 18, so hopefully, the bye week gave him enough time to heal up and start looking like he did at the start of the season when he was in the MVP discussion.
Dallas Cowboys: Dak Prescott Keeps Rolling
The Dallas Cowboys were a popular pick to get upset by the Buccaneers in their Wild Card matchup. It was hard to argue against it as Dallas played so poorly against the Washington Commanders in Week 18.
A big reason for their struggles in that game was the performance of Dak Prescott. Prescott ran his streak of games with an interception to seven, completing only 37.8 percent of his passes for 128 yards and a touchdown. Whatever was done during the week leading up to the game worked as Prescott looked like a totally different quarterback against the Buccaneers.
He completed 75.7 percent of his passes for 305 yards and four touchdowns. Prescott added 24 yards and another score on the ground for what was a record-setting performance. Playing near that level again would make the Cowboys a live underdog this weekend against the 49ers and their elite defense.
San Francisco 49ers: Keep Stepping Up Around Brock Purdy
What San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy has accomplished this season is nothing short of magnificent. Mr. Irrelevant in the 2022 NFL Draft wasn’t expected to step on the field this season, but not only has he gotten playing time, but he has also excelled.
Purdy has thrown for 2+ touchdowns in every appearance he has made this season, including an excellent performance last week against the Seattle Seahawks. He completed 60 percent of his passes for 332 yards and three touchdowns, adding 16 yards on the ground and another score for what was a record-setting performance by a rookie.
The situation that Purdy found himself in was an excellent one for any quarterback. The 49ers are loaded with high-end talent on both sides of the ball and they need to continue leaning into those players for Purdy to succeed.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan has game planned to perfection in recent weeks and will need another one against the Cowboys in the Divisional Round. If he can do it again, the 49ers will be in a great position to advance to the NFC Championship Game.