If Wild Card Weekend was any indication of what’s to come, we’re in store for a great Divisional Round of football. Over in the NFC, there are two huge matchups that are predicted to go down to the wire. One is a game between two NFC East rivals and the other is a game where both teams secured blowout wins in the Wild Card round. With these teams putting on a great display of football last weekend and the Eagles coming off of their first-round bye, this slate of games in the NFC is certain to have you on the edge of your seat.
2023 NFC Divisional Round Matchups
Giants (6 Seed) @ Eagles (1 Seed)
Date: Saturday, January 21
Time: 8:15 ET
It will be a battle of NFC East foes to start the Divisional Round on this side of the bracket as the New York Giants travel to take on the number one-seeded Philadelphia Eagles after a gutsy win on the road against the Minnesota Vikings.
Before this season, the Giants haven’t made the playoffs since 2017 and hadn’t won a playoff game since 2012. That all changed when they hired head coach Brian Daboll before this season and made the playoffs with a 9-7-1 record while leading them to a 31-24 win last week. He changed the culture of this team and it started with Daniel Jones, who had the best season of his career and a great playoff debut. In his first playoff game last week, he threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns while running for a team-high 78 yards. Wide Receivers Isiah Hodgins and Darius Slayton came up huge for Jones, with Hodgins having 105 yards and a touchdown.
While Jones led the team in rushing last game, Saquon Barkley came up huge with 53 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. The defensive game plan worked wonders, limiting Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson to 50 yards or less with no touchdowns while holding Dalvin Cook to only 60 yards on the ground and no touchdowns. The Giants have the heart and the will to compete every week but now they travel to face the number seed, who they’ve lost two twice already this season.
Awaiting the Giants are a fresh Eagles team who earned the number one seed and the first-round bye with a 13-4 record in the regular season. Philadelphia comes into the Divisional Round having the second-best offense in the NFL and you can thank MVP candidate Jalen Hurts for his efforts. He was 14-1 in the 15 games he played and threw for 3701 yards with 22 touchdowns and only six interceptions. He’s also rushed for 760 yards and an outstanding 13 touchdowns. He’s flanked by the great wide receiver duo of A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, who both eclipsed 1000 yards receiving.
To go along with the contributions of Hurts in the run game, Miles Sanders has been excellent on the ground as well. He’s fifth in rushing yards with 1269 and eighth in rushing touchdowns with 11 while averaging nearly five yards per attempt. With their great offense comes a top-ten defense, which is seventh in points allowed, first in pass defense, and second in total yards allowed. They have an excellent pass rush led by Hasson Reddick, who is second in the NFL with 16 sacks. They have three other players that have 11 sacks. The Eagles’ only flaw is their rushing defense, which is middle of the pack but if they step it up in that area, watch out.
The Eagles will be heavy favorites coming into this game but if you look at the eye test, don’t count out the Giants to make it a close game or even pull off an upset. New York needs a repeat performance and more if they wan’t to even think about winning. Divisional foes always play each other like their life is at stake which will make this game that much better.
Cowboys (5 Seed) @ 49ers (2 Seed)
Date: Sunday, January 22
Time: 6:30 ET
The last game of the Divisional Round belongs to two teams who showcased their talent in a big way last weekend. The San Francisco 49ers kicked off Wild Card Weekend with a 41-23 blowout win against their division rival Seattle Seahawks. Brock Purdy came into the year as the third-string quarterback to now starting in the Divisional Round after going 6-0 as a starter, including the playoff win last week.
Purdy lit the world on fire in his first playoff game as he had 332 yards and four total touchdowns (three passing, one rushing). Purdy now is the lead man in San Francisco and looks great while doing it. The rookie has multiple weapons to help him out, whether it’s Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, or George Kittle. In fact, Samuel went off for 133 yards and a touchdown in the Wild Card game and will be the focus yet again this weekend. This is all without mentioning Christian McCaffrey in the backfield, who might be one of the best in-season acquisitions in NFL history. Not only did he have 119 yards on the ground but he caught a touchdown pass.
As much as we talk about the weapons on offense, this defense is ranked number one in the NFL. This unit starts with none other than Nick Bosa, who led the league with 18.5 sacks during the regular season. Even when Bosa stays quiet on the stat sheet like last game, the 49ers have a ton of talent who can step up and make plays. Charles Omenihu had a Bosa-like performance last weekend with three tackles, two sacks, and a forced fumble. The defense is first in both points allowed and total yards given up.
With that all being said, what the Dallas Cowboys showed against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was nothing short of great. Dak Prescott had one of the best games of his career and picked the perfect time to do it, going 25-33 for 305 yards and four touchdowns while also running for one. He hit his top three receivers all night with CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup catching a touchdown while tight end Dalton Schultz had 95 yards and two touchdowns. While Tony Pollard didn’t score, he had 77 yards on the ground and averaged just over five yards a carry, seemingly taking over the reins from Ezekial Elliott, who can still be a factor when he wants to.
The Cowboys’ defense played exceptionally well, only giving up 14 points to a Tom Brady-led team and keeping the Buccaneers’ rushing attack hidden. Micah Parsons turned into a dominant force yet again last night, recording three tackles, two quarterback hits, two pass breakups, and a sack. He was all over and they’re going to need him and this sixth-ranked defense to be even better in the Divisional Round. People are saying it’ll be a tough test for the Cowboys to go to San Francisco and that’s true, but if this Cowboys team can show up like they did last week on both offense and defense, the 49ers will also have a tough time in this game.