NFC rivals galore, Eagles-Giants & 49ers-Cowboys, East dominance

Not one in every of its 4 groups may muster a profitable file two years in the past.

Now, in every single place you flip there’s an NFC East staff nonetheless alive.

The Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants are lending new which means to the divisional spherical of the playoffs. It’s the primary time since realignment in 2002 that three groups from the identical division have gotten this far.

“We have a lot of good teams in our division,” first-year Giants coach Brian Daboll instructed reporters Wednesday. “A lot of talented players, good coaches. Teams that are here at this time of year are the teams that earn it.”

Not since 1997 have three groups from the identical division reached the second spherical, and that was within the previous NFC Central when Inexperienced Bay, Minnesota and Tampa Bay dominated the divisional spherical. The Packers reached to the Tremendous Bowl that season earlier than dropping to Denver.

The present state of affairs is a far cry from 2020 when the very best the “NFC Least” may provide was 7-9 Washington, which gained 4 fewer video games than the next-closest division winner. That staff was dispatched by Tampa Bay within the opening spherical.

Because it stands, the one surviving NFC staff not from the East is San Francisco, which performs host to Dallas in Sunday’s late recreation.

On the AFC facet this weekend, Jacksonville performs Saturday at top-seeded Kansas Metropolis, and the Cincinnati performs at Buffalo on Sunday.

The highest-seeded Eagles will play host to the Giants on Saturday evening, a staff Philadelphia swept within the common season. In reality, the Giants had just one division win this season. They have been likewise swept by the Cowboys and had a win and a tie towards the Commanders.

The Giants completed the common season 9-6-1, solely their second profitable season in a decade, and made the playoffs for the primary time since 2016. Daboll, the previous Buffalo offensive coordinator, is a number one Coach of the 12 months candidate in an particularly sturdy discipline.

Brian Daboll has come up massive as head coach of the New York Giants, together with a wild-card playoff victory at Minnesota.

(Abbie Parr / Related Press)

He employed some uncommon teaching ways this season, together with stopping some conferences within the spring, handing staff captains video-game controllers and having them sq. off in video games of Madden, and testing the resolve of quarterback Daniel Jones by quietly tipping the protection what performs he was about to run.

The Giants could have their fingers full Saturday. They’ve misplaced 9 in a row at Philadelphia, and nobody on their roster has skilled a highway win over the Eagles.

This recreation will likely be a giant check for Philadelphia quarterback Jalen Hurts, a number one Most Invaluable Participant candidate earlier this season, who sat out two video games after struggling an damage to his throwing shoulder in a Dec. 18 recreation towards Chicago.

Though Hurts returned to steer the Eagles to a win over the Giants within the regular-season finale, Philadelphia’s coaches have been very conservative with him and made positive he didn’t run round the best way he did when totally wholesome. Hurts was 14-1 as a starter this season, throwing for 22 touchdowns and speeding for 13 extra.

Hurts instructed reporters this week that he’s feeling good, and shrugged off the notion of doubtless aggravating his shoulder damage.

“It’s football,” mentioned. “I’ve got a bounty on me every week I go out there on the field. Gonna go out there and just play my game. Whatever happens, happens.”

Because it occurs, that recreation between the Cowboys and 49ers is the one matchup within the postseason to this point that isn’t a rematch from the common season.

Every of the six wild-card video games was a rematch, and the opposite three divisional matchups have been on the regular-season schedule too — though the sport between Buffalo and Cincinnati was halted within the first quarter after Payments security Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest.

The Cowboys need to attain the NFC title recreation for the primary time since profitable the Tremendous Bowl within the 1995 season. They took a primary step in that route Monday evening with a wild-card win at Tampa Bay, the primary postseason highway win for Dallas in 9 tries.

San Francisco and Dallas will face one another within the playoffs for a record-tying ninth time, with the Cowboys profitable 5 of the earlier eight conferences.

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan smiles while speaking at a news conference.

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has fond recollections of rivalry video games towards the Dallas Cowboys.

(Stephen Brashear / Related Press)

The 49ers are using an 11-game profitable streak, their longest in 25 years.

San Francisco knocked Dallas out of the playoffs final season within the first spherical so, in a way, this has the texture of a rematch.

“That’s how rivalries happen,” mentioned 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, whose father, Mike, was a San Francisco assistant earlier than happening to win two Tremendous Bowls as Denver’s head coach.

“You guys [reporters] knew it from the ‘80s when it started out. I remember so much from my childhood from sixth grade to ninth grade, because I was here ‘92 to ‘94, so it was the biggest rivalry in football to me growing up.

“Then usually that goes away when you don’t meet in the playoffs a bunch and we had a big game last year, we have a big game this year, so the more you do that, the bigger it gets again.”