Is it hard to beat a team three times? The Giants will try to prove it is on Saturday


An old adage that gets tossed around in football frequently is it’s hard to beat the same team three times.

On Saturday, the Giants will attempt to prove that correct as they will play the Eagles for the third time after losing the first two games this season, including the final game of the regular season, 22-16.

But much more is at stake during the NFC Divisional Round matchup at Lincoln Financial Field this time around.

“Every game’s different in this league,” Giants coach Brian Daboll said. “Every time you play a team — whether it’s the second time, third [time] — it’s all different.

“What matters most is our process leading up to it and then how we play.”

How often does a team beat the same opponent three times in a season?

Since 1970, when the AFL and NFL merged, there have been 24 instances of teams meeting three times in a season after one team won the first two games of the series. The team that won the first two games has won the third matchup 15 times, which includes the 49ers 41-23 victory over the Seahawks last weekend.

The narrative that it’s difficult to beat a team three times in a season isn’t true at all if history is an indication. If anything, the team that swept both regular season matchups is more likely to win the third meeting than lose it.

“Honestly, it’s more difficult,” Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard told the Daily News about trying to defeat the Eagles. “Because pretty much all your film is out from the whole year.

“On top of that, playing against the guys — that can help you in the aspect of individually knowing what guys like to do and what they don’t like. But you definitely have to work on switching stuff up because they’ve seen most of it.

“Having variations of different things that you’ve run. It can help you individually knowing guys like to squat at the sticks or just little nuances.”

Both the Giants and the Eagles are completely different teams from their first meeting on Dec. 11. Philadelphia ran all over New York to the tune of 253 yards and averaged 8.2 yards per carry in the 48-22 route.

The Eagles were also in the midst of a five-game winning streak before losing to the Cowboys on Christmas Eve. After the loss to the Eagles, the Giants recuperated to defeat the Commanders and the Colts to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2016. That and last week’s 31-24 victory at Minnesota has given the Giants confidence that they can not only hang with the best teams in the NFC, but they can beat them, as Big Blue was a -2.5 point underdog in Minnesota.

Their defense has been one of the keys to the Giants the last five weeks, as Big Blue has allowed 107 rushing yards per game during that span. Against Vikings and three-time Pro Bowl running back Dalvin Cook, the Giants only allowed 61 rushing yards the entire game. Also, the last time the Giants played the Eagles, they held Jalen Hurts and their offense to just one touchdown.

“They’re a talented team with a lot of superstars on the roster on both sides of the ball and special teams,” Giants safety Julian Love said. We learned a lot about them, they learned a lot about us.

“The third time go around with them, it’s going to be a battle.”

HURTS NOT WORRIED

The Giants defenders know that Hurts’ sprained throwing shoulder will likely be less than 100%.

But when asked about it on Wednesday, Hurts didn’t appear to be too concerned about the Giants paying particular attention to it.

“It’s football,” Hurts said. “I’ve got a bounty on me every week I go out there on the field. So, I’m going to go out there and just play my game, and whatever happens, happens.”

Hurts sprained a joint in his right shoulder against the Bears on Dec. 18. He returned for the season finale against the Giants as he finished the game 20-of-35 for 229 yards and an interception. However, the Eagles only called a few designed runs for Hurts throughout the game, as he had only 13 yards on nine attempts.

The Eagles’ bye last weekend allowed Hurts to rest his shoulder as he could be in a better position to use both his skills as a runner and as a passer.

“We know we’re playing a really good team,” Hurts said. “They have a really good defense, and they do a lot of really good things — that’s on both sides of the ball.

“We know we have to come prepared, put in a great week of preparation to go out there and play well Saturday.”

INJURY REPORT

The Giants had a walkthrough on Tuesday as they played against the Vikings on Sunday. Every player participated, but Azeez Ojulari (quad), cornerbacks Adoree’ Jackson (back) Love (hamstring), and defensive back Fabian Moreau were all limited.

Safety Jason Pinnock (abdomen) was a full participant. The injury designations were just an estimate.

Ojulari exited the game against the Vikings and did not return. Prior to last weekend’s game, Ojulari dealt with an ankle injury he sustained during the first matchup against the Vikings as he was held out of the season finale loss against the Eagles.

Pinnock was carted off the field around the midway point of the fourth quarter against the Vikings and checked into a local hospital. He later returned to the stadium and traveled back with the rest of the team that same night.

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