The New York Giants (2-8) will try to win two games in a row as they travel to Washington to take on the Redskins (4-6) on Thanksgiving.
Thursday night, the Giants will look to ride the momentum of their inspired 12-9 overtime win over the Kansas City Chiefs to a two-game winning streak for the first time all season. The Redskins, meanwhile, are looking to rebound from their 34-31 overtime loss to the New Orleans Saints where they blew a 15-point, fourth-quarter lead.
A win by the Giants will show that they’re still playing for one another and their coach, and would crush Washington’s playoff hopes. A loss to Washington won’t change anything for Big Blue. It’ll just be another “L” in the loss column.
Here are the keys to victory for the New York Giants.
1. Get Orleans Darkwa at least 20 carries
Running the ball is still a part of a successful NFL offense. How do we know this? Guess who had at least 20 rushing attempts in both of the Giants’ wins this season? Orleans Darkwa.
Against the Chiefs, he ran the ball 20 times for 74 yards and scored the Giants lone touchdown of the game.
Darkwa was limited in practice on Tuesday with a hamstring issue, but all signs point towards him playing on Thursday. If Darkwa has a setback between now and then, expect rookie Wayne Gallman to get the bulk of the carries.
2. Secondary needs to deliver another dominant performance
In Week 11, the Giants intercepted Kansas City’s Alex Smith three times and held him to a season-low quarterback rating of 61.5. Washington’s Kirk Cousins is a far more dangerous quarterback than Smith.
Cousins ranks third in the NFL with 2,796 passing yards, to go along with 17 touchdowns and only five interceptions. The Redskins will likely rely more on the pass this week since they lost running back Chris Thompson for the season last week to a fractured fibula.
So Janoris Jenkins, Landon Collins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and the rest of the Giants’ secondary needs to step up once again and force the Redskins to try and run the ball.
3. Win the turnover battle
The Giants are plus-five in turnover differential in their two wins this season. They’re a minus-five in their eight losses. So it’s simple: If the Giants win the turnover battle, they stand a good chance of winning the game. So Eli Manning must do what he did last week—play efficiently and make smart decisions with the ball.
4. Bold, aggressive playcalling
Against the Chiefs, the Giants converted on a fake punt and attempted a halfback pass with Shane Vereen. Although Vereen’s pass was intercepted, it showed that they can be creative and bold when they want to be.
With a short week to prepare, the Redskins could be vulnerable to a gadget play. The Giants should attempt at least one trick play on Thursday to see if they can catch the Redskins off guard.