The New York Giants are favored to win this week for the first team all season. Big Blue is a home 2.5 point favorite against the Washington Football Team on Sunday.
Washington enters this game with their quarterback position in a state of flux. They benched their 2019 first-round quarterback Dwayne Haskins before last week’s game against the Los Angeles Rams. His replacement, Kyle Allen, left the game in the second quarter with an arm injury, and was in turn replaced by veteran Alex Smith. The Rams sacked Smith six times in his first game action since suffering a devastating leg injury in 2018. Allen has been cleared to start against the Giants, but none of Washington’s oprions at quarterback are inspiring.
Washington’s offense has been atrocious this year. They currently rank dead last in yards per game, and third last in points per game. Haskins’ poor play is responsible for much of their struggles. But their offensive line has also been pitiful. They don’t have any worthwhile skill position players other than receiver Terry McLaurin and emerging rookie running back Antonio Gibson.
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Washington’s young, talent-laden pass rush is really all that should pose a threat to New York. Led by 2020 second-overall selection Chase Young, the Football Team boasts five first-round picks along the defensive line. Washington is seventh in sacks per game. But if Big Blue can neutralize their pass rush with an effective running and screen game, Washington’s secondary is vulnerable.
In some ways, this game could be an inflection point for New York’s season. These two teams are presently ranked 28th and 29th in DVOA respectively, according to Football Outsiders. If the Giants can soundly beat Washington, they’ll demonstrate to the league and themselves that they’re a cut above the dregs of the NFL. They can even insert themselves into the NFC East race depending on the performance of the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. If New York loses, though, general manager Dave Gettleman could be promptly fired. Castigation will fall on quarterback Daniel Jones, and the tank for Trevor Lawrence will kick into high gear.
Here’s an overview of everything you need to know ahead of Sunday’s game, followed by a prediction for the final score.
Where and When
MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. EST/10:00 a.m. PST
New York: S Xavier McKinney (Out), OLB Lorenzo Carter (Out), OLB Oshane Ximines (Out), WR Sterling Shepard (Doubtful), ILB David Mayo (Questionable), WR Darius Slayton (Questionable), S Jabrill Peppers (Questionable), DT Dexter Lawrence (Questionable), OLB Kyler Fackrell (Questionable)
Most Concerning Matchup: DE Chase Young vs. OT Cam Fleming
Young came into the NFL as the most hyped pass rushing prospect in recent memory, and he hasn’t disappointed. Through the first five games of his career, he’s already posted two and a half sacks and a forced fumble. He’s earned an impressive 72.7 overall grade from Pro Football Focus. Young usualy lines up as Washington’s left defensive end, which means he’ll mostly be rushing against the right tackle Fleming.
Fleming started the season off horribly in Week 1 against Pittsburgh. He’s been at least passable ever since. With rookie Andrew Thomas struggling at left tackle, the Giants might be inclined to lend him help against Montez Sweat. Blocking Young one on one will be a tall task for the journeyman tackle. If he’s not up to it, the Giants could be scrambling to patch leaks along their offensive line all game.
Most Promising Matchup: DL Leonard Williams vs. OG Wes Martin
The three-time pro bowler Scherff is unlikely to play after getting taken off injured reserve. Martin will once again start for Washington. Martin has struggled mightily this year, garnering a 43.6 overall grade from Pro Football Focus. The second-year fourth round pick out of Indiana was the subject of ridicule this week. PFF tweeted out his miniscule pass blocking grade of 0.2 from his Week 5 outing against Aaron Donald and the Los Angeles Rams.
Wes Martin’s pass block grade from Week 5, brought to you by Aaron Donald:
☠️ 0.2 pic.twitter.com/MpoIXt8Fxo
— PFF Washington (@PFF_Washington) October 12, 2020
Williams is extremely not Donald, but he’s probably the closest Big Blue has. The highest paid player on the Giants was invisible last week in Dallas. This week’s matchup against Martin and the Washington offensive line represents a prime opportunity for him to have a bounce back game. If Washington’s respectable defense keeps New York’s offense in check, the Giants’ defense needs to counter with their own dominant performance. As the main penetrator on BIg Blue’s front, Williams needs to live in the backfield shutting down runs and disrupting pass plays.
Keys to Victory
Keep it clean. The Giants finally find themselves playing a team they should be better than. If they can manage a turnover-free, penalty-sparce game, they’ll be able to earn a victory without requiring too much good fortune.
Part of avoiding turnovers means keeping Washington’s ferocious pass rush at bay. Thomas and Fleming need to have better games than they did last week, and Jones needs to get the ball out of his hands more decisively. Getting an early lead would help, as that would force Washington’s defensive line to respect the run and prevent them from pinning their ears back against the pass.
On defense, cornerback James Bradberry needs to continue his fine season by controlling McLaurin outside. Washington doesn’t have any other major receiving threats, so New York’s linebackers and safeties can key on stopping the run.
Final Score Prediction: Giants 24 – Washington 16
New York’s offense has shown notable improvements over the past couple weeks. Expect that trend to continue against Washington, even if their point total may not reflect it. As long as the Giants don’t commit any early blunders, they should be able to get a lead and stay in control of this game. Washington simply doesn’t have the offensive firepower to come back from a multi-score deficit. A comfortable, stress-free victory is just what the doctor ordered for Big Blue following an 0-5 start.