The playoff push rolls on. The Giants face a critical Week 13 home game against the Commanders that will have a massive impact on the NFC wild card race. And Mike White and the Jets aim to make it two straight against the Vikings in Minneapolis.
The Giants are a 2.5-point home underdog and the Jets are three-point road underdogs (lines via Sports Betting Dime). Here are the ESNY staff picks:
COMMANDERS AT GIANTS
Matt Musico, editor. The Giants get to play at home, but this matchup with the Commanders is very much a must-win scenario. They’ve been reeling and desperately need a momentum shift. I don’t know if it’s going to happen because New York hasn’t been too great at creating big plays for most of the season. Commanders 27, Giants 20.
Danny Small, staff writer. Are the Giants finally slowing down for good? After a 6-1 start, Big Blue has lost three of their last four. They have the streaking Commanders this week. With so many injuries, the Giants have looked like a different team. Meanwhile, the Commanders have life with Taylor Heinicke taking over. Giants 17, Commanders 24.
Josh Benjamin, staff writer. Reeling Big Blue has lost three of four at a bad time and now must face the surging Commanders in an important divisional matchup. Washington has won six of seven under Heinicke and their defense is sound too, something that could spell trouble for the banged-up Giants. Commanders 23, Giants 17.
Ryan Honey, staff writer. The Giants’ offensive line has been banged up and they haven’t been able to run the ball as effectively (Saquon Barkley is averaging just 2.3 yards per carry over the last two games). And on Sunday, they’ll need to face a Washington defense that’s eighth in the NFL against the run. The Giants’ passing game is fifth-worst in the NFL. The Commanders’ defense is 10th against the pass.The Giants are still ravaged by injuries and have lost three of their last four games. Washington is one of the hottest teams in football, has won six of its last seven games, and now sits in the current NFC playoff picture (as do the Giants). All signs are pointing toward a Giants loss this Sunday. It’ll be close and competitive, but the red-hot Commanders should get the edge. Commanders 23, Giants 17.
James Kratch, managing editor. The Commanders do not get enough credit. No, really. Washington has now won seven-plus games in eight of the last 11 seasons. That is not an easy thing to do in the modern NFL. Especially when your owner is Daniel Snyder and your organization is an absolute catastrophe. Anyway, this game comes down to one thing: Can Washington shut Barkley down? If the Commanders can, they win. Because the Giants do not have the horses to find points otherwise. But if Barkley gets going again, the Giants are an enticing home underdog. Let’s split the difference. Commanders 22, Giants 20.
JETS AT VIKINGS
Musico. Hitting the road to face a 9-2 team like the Jets will be doing this weekend is no easy task. Vibes are good in the locker room right now. I think the defense can contain Minnesota’s offense while Mike White and company do just enough to get the job done. Jets 23, Vikings 20.
Small. Despite being one of the best teams in the NFC, but the Vikings don’t match up well with the Jets. They win when Justin Jefferson goes off. Minnesota is 8-0 when he has 98 yards or more. They are 1-2 when he is held under that number. The Jets have the best cornerback duo in the league with DJ Reed and Sauce Gardner, a potential All-Pro. If White and the offense look half as good as they did against Chicago, the Jets win this game comfortably. Jets 27, Vikings 13.
Benjamin. This game can absolutely be close, especially with Gang Green finally ready to embrace White. Unfortunately, not even a top effort from Garrett Wilson will slow down the Vikes and Jefferson. Minnesota just has more talent and is better coached, even under first-year man Kevin O’Connell. Vikings 34, Jets 24.
Honey. The Jets may have an answer (at least temporarily) at the quarterback position. In last Sunday’s win over the Bears, White threw for 315 yards and three touchdowns and the Jets actually found some offensive success. Expect that to be the same this Sunday.While the Vikings are one of the top teams in the NFL at 9-2, they’re allowing 114.6 rushing yards per game. The Jets’ running back committee, led by second-year man Michael Carter, could exploit this and provide opportunities for White in the play-action game. If White just takes care of the football, this game plan would take pressure off a talented Jets defense that must face a productive Minnesota offense (340.3 yards, 23.8 points per game). If the Jets construct long scoring drives to keep the Vikings’ offense off the field, they should pull out the win. Jets 24, Vikings 20.
Kratch. I expect the Jets to be competitive on Sunday. But the line is too generous. It’s hard to beat the Vikings on the road. Very hard. And this is a game where the Jets can slip up a bit and still be on pace to make the playoffs. Their fate will be determined by how they handle the Bills and Dolphins down the stretch, as well as whether they win the games they are supposed to against the Jaguars and Lions. Vikings 23, Jets 17.
RECORDS TO DATE
T1-Musico: 13-9 against the spread, 13-9 straight-up.
T1-Small: 13-9, 13-9
T3-Benjamin: 12-10, 13-9
T3-Honey: 12-10, 13-9
5-Kratch: 11-11, 11-11
James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]