The biggest game of the season, by far, lies ahead for the Giants. They’ll travel to FedEx Field this Sunday night to face the division-rival Commanders in primetime.
After the last meeting between these teams (on Dec. 4) ended in a tie, a victory would be monstrous for the Giants.
Currently, the Giants are the 7-seed in the NFC Playoff picture while the Commanders are the 6-seed. These two teams would swap spots in the playoff standings, however, if New York gets the win.
So what will the Giants need to accomplish in order to record this much-needed victory?
Superb night from secondary. The Giants’ defense is only as good as their secondary — coordinator Wink Martindale’s blitz-heavy scheme doesn’t work when mistakes are made in the deep part of the field.
And right now, the Giants’ defensive backfield is ravaged by injuries and inexperienced as a result. With safety Xavier McKinney (hand) and cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (knee) out again on Sunday, there must be a next-man-up mentality.
Whoever is active among cornerbacks Zyon Gilbert, Nick McCloud, Fabian Moreau, and safety Jason Pinnock must step up and limit the effectiveness of the Washington passing game. When these teams last met, Commanders quarterback Taylor Heinicke threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns — the Giants can’t let him repeat that performance.
Success in the secondary will, in turn, allow the Giants to unleash their pass rushers and take advantage of a weak Washington offensive line. The Commanders are 28th in the NFL with a 53% pass block win rate, per ESPN.
Win the ground game. The Giants need to make an improvement in the run game on either side of the ball.
They’re 29th in the NFL against the run, so a huge game in this department would go a long way toward the defensive unit getting off the field early. That’ll be a tough task though, as Washington’s offense is 14th in rushing and tied for 10th in run block win rate.
The Giants also need a boost in their own offense’s run game. Running back Saquon Barkley, after a stellar start to the season, has been cold as of late. He’s combined for just 152 total rushing yards on 53 carries (2.9 yards per carry) over the last four games.
Daniel Jones masterclass. This is a spectacular opportunity for Daniel Jones to show he should be the Giants’ quarterback past this season.
On the road, against a division rival, in prime time, amid a tight division race: if Jones can respond and put together a stellar performance against a tough Commanders secondary, it would greatly benefit a Giants offense that’s needed a boost in the passing game for quite some time.