The NFL divisional round reminded everyone just how powerful the Philadelphia Eagles are with their franchise quarterback under center. Jalen Hurts made his return to the starting lineup this weekend against the New York Giants, and the Eagles got back to looking like the best team in the NFC and the most complete team in the NFL.
However, they didn’t really need Hurts at full strength for them to make life hell for the Giants in a game that was never a game.
By no means did Hurts play poorly. He was efficient with the ball and largely did what the Eagles asked him to do in his first game back from his shoulder injury. According to Ben Baldwin of The Athletic, Hurts’ average pass traveled only 6 yards downfield, but he posted a strong Quarterback Rating of 84 for the game. He completed 66.7% of his passes, didn't turn the ball over and was sacked just once for a loss of 6 yards.
If that’s all the Eagles need from their quarterback to post a four-score win over a division rival in the playoffs, that’s daunting news for the rest of the teams left. Of course, the Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco 49ers are all better than the Giants, but it’s still a substantial feat the Eagles pulled off here. A performance such as that shows that they’re the most well-rounded team in the NFL this postseason. Hurts has been insulated in a way that allows him to take a backseat in the playmaking department and the rest of the team to carry the load when it needs to.
A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Miles Sanders and Dallas Goedert make up one of the best offensive skill corps in the league. The Eagles also have a three-headed monster along the offensive line in Jordan Mailata, Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson, which makes running just about any play they want a walk in the park. When Hurts is actually at full strength, it’s easy to see how this becomes an overwhelming team.
After their destruction of the Giants on Saturday, Hurts said his shoulder simply felt “good enough” to play in the divisional round. If he can get another week healthier for the NFC championship game against the 49ers, the Eagles should have a fully operational Death Star on Sunday. Hurts’ version of “good enough” is enough for the Eagles to get back to their second Super Bowl in five seasons.
The diminished version of Hurts helped lead the Eagles to 38 points. The 49ers have a far better defense than the Giants, so another 38-point outburst is unlikely, but this was a game in which the infrastructure of the Eagles really shined through on the biggest stage they’ve played on so far. All they really needed was the physical body of Hurts and the problems he presents on the field to maximize that potential.
If Hurts is back to making plays? The Eagles will be in Phoenix representing the NFC in the Super Bowl.