At 1-7, coming off two heartbreaking games lost by a combined three points, the New York Giants need a win. They couldn’t have picked a better time to visit the Washington Football Team. Big Blue has beaten their division rivals in four straight, including in their lone victory this season. This Washington game must also be a welcome site for New York’s embattled second-year quarterback Daniel Jones. Jones, whose two second-half interceptions essentially sunk the Giants against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week, is undefeated against Washington in his career with a 3-0 record.
While recent history may favor New York in this one, the Giants aren’t nearly good enough to take any game for granted. Big Blue won the Week 6 contest between these teams by just a point, and that was only because Washington failed on a two-point conversion attempt at the end of the game. Realistically, these teams are evenly matched. Another close, low-scoring game is likely in the cards.
The Giants biggest worry in this game will be Washington’s pass rush, just as it was three weeks ago. Washington’s Chase Young, Montez Sweat, and Ryan Kerrigan form an impressive trio of edge rushers. Big Blue mitigated their impact in Week 6 by running play-action off an effective power running game. Expect more of the same from coordinator Jason Garret’s offense to keep that defensive line from pinning their ears back. The Giants offensive line, particularly rookie left tackle Andrew Thomas, had arguably it’s best game of the season against Tampa Bay. That group will need to have another strong performance to allow Jones and company to function at a high level.
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Defensively, New York won’t exactly be in tough against quarterback Kyle Allen and a limited Washington offense. Coordinator Patrick Graham’s unit did very well in holding Tom Brady and the ballyhooed Buccaneers offense to just 344 total yards. Their level of difficulty will be cut in half this week. Terry McLaurin is the type of big-play receiver worth worrying about. Beyond him, though, there’s not a single above-average player on Washington’s offense.
A side story to watch will be how many snaps Golden Tate gets. The disgruntled receiver yelled about wanting the ball more after each of his two catches Monday night. His wife criticized the Giants on social media for not featuring him enough. Tate was absent from practice Wednesday. According to reports, he was mostly inactive in Thursday’s practice. All signs point to him having little to no role against Washington. It’ll be interesting to see if, and for how long, head coach Joe Judge benches Tate for his self-centered behaviour.
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
FedEx Field in Prince George’s County, Maryland on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. EST/10:00 a.m. PST
New York: S Xavier McKinney (Out), OLB Oshane Ximines (Out), CB Ryan Lewis (Questionable), WR Sterling Shepard (Questionable), RB Devonta Freeman (Questionable), DB Logan Ryan (Questionable), ILB Blake Martinez (Questionable), ILB Devante Downs (Questionable)
Most Concerning Matchup: DE Chase Young vs. OT Cameron Fleming
Young vs. Fleming was New York’s most concerning matchup back in Week 6. Nothing has happened over the last few weeks to make it any less concerning this time around. While Young may not have eye-popping boxscore stats (he only has two and a half sacks on the year), he’s still been playing at a very high level. The rookie second-overall pick has earned a grade of 82 from Pro Football Focus, and is a visible force against the run and pass.
Fleming, meanwhile, has been unequivocally bad this year. He consistently gives up pressure and very susceptible to bull rush and power moves. The former Dallas Cowboy and New England Patriot is showing Giants fans just why he’d been a career backup prior to this season. There’s at least a non-zero chance rookie Matt Peart starts in place of Fleming this game. Either way, Jones needs to be hyper-aware of Young’s whereabouts on every play.
Most Promising Matchup: TE Evan Engram vs. SS Deshazor Everett
Everett is starting in place of the injured Landon Collins at strong safety. The sixth-year pro out of Texas A&M has only started 13 games in his career. The converted cornerback could find himself in coverage against Engram quite a bit if Big Blue hunts out the mismatch. At six feet tall, Everett is at a size and athleticism disadvantage against the Giants speedy tight end. Engram’s role in the offense has been steadily expanding, and he could be in line for a genuine breakout performance, whether it’s against Everett or Washington’s subpar coverage linebackers.
Keys to Victory
Jones needs to have a solid bounce-back performance. Last week was his career low point, as terrible interceptions and multiple missed throws cost New York a game they should’ve taken against a superior opponent. He doesn’t need to be spectacular against Washington, just good enough to make a few nice plays while taking care of the ball. Even limiting his turnovers to just one will likely suffice against a Washington team prone to giving the ball away themselves.
On defense, the Giants need to take away the big play, which they’ve been doing a good job of anyways this season. If Washington is forced to execute long, arduous drives, they’re bound to botch a play or two and shoot themselves in the foot.
Final Score Prediction: Giants 24 – Washington 20
There are very few teams you can pick the Giants to beat with reasonable confidence, and Washington is one of them. New York is by no means good, but they’re better than their 1-7 record indicates. They’ve lost most of their games by a narrow margin, whereas Washington has been blown out more often than not. The Giants are coming off a short week and Washington is coming off a bye, so this won’t be a cake walk for Big Blue. But New York can actually say they’re better than this team, and they’ll want to show it Sunday afternoon.