It’s Week 13 of the NFL season and the 7-5 Washington Commanders will be facing a 7-4 Giants team in New Jersey.
This game, and the next one between these two teams, two weeks later, have massive playoff implications in the NFC. The Giants have lost 3 of 4, while Washington has won 6 of its last 7 games. Should either team sweep this set of games, they’re a virtual lock for one of the final Wild Card spots. Two losses, and it’s probably time to start thinking about the draft.
To learn more about these and other issues, I asked Ed Valentine of Big Blue View five questions about the state of the Giants and what to look for in this game.
1) Daniel Jones and the Giants are off to an impressive 7-4 start this season. The Giants didn’t pick up his 5th year option last offseason. How do you think they handle Jones this offseason?
If that decision were to be made now, I would expect the Giants to try and sign Jones to a modest (by quarterback standards) short-term deal — maybe something like two years, $30-35 million. Despite modest passing numbers, Jones has been really good this season. He hasn’t turned the ball over — two interceptions against Dallas last week doubled his season total. Jones has made good decisions, his running has been a huge part of the offense, and he has made big plays at critical times. He has led four fourth-quarter comebacks and five game-winning drives.
All of that said, I think these last six games are crucial to the decision. If he continues to play as he has, I think he stays. If he fails miserably, all bets are off.
2) It feels like a long time since we last played the Giants. Tell us about one young player on offense and on defense who we might expect to make an impact on this game.
Offense — The Giants are looking forward to the return of rookie tight end Daniel Bellinger to their lineup. He has been out since suffering a fractured eye socket Week 7 vs. the Jaguars. Bellinger’s ability to be both an effective receiver and blocker helped balance the offense. The Giants really don’t have a replacement with such a well-rounded skill set. Bellinger’s absence has been one reason the running game hasn’t been as efficient in recent weeks.
Defense — Kayvon Thibodeaux. The No. 5 overall pick has just one sack in nine games played — he missed two games with a sprained MCL. He is coming off his best game. Thibodeaux lived in the backfield on Thanksgiving Day against the Cowboys, with five quarterback hits and nine total pressures. Sooner or later, those pressures will turn into sacks.
3) The Giants pass defense appears to be middle of the pack, while its rush defense is one of the most generous in the league. What’s the biggest weak spot in this defense?
Interestingly, the defense has been reasonably good (14th in points allowed) despite the run defense being a concern. The biggest concern is the secondary. Safety Xavier McKinney is out. Adoree’ Jackson, their best cornerback, is out. Fabian Moreau, the other starting cornerback, missed last week’s game with an oblique injury and his status is uncertain. Aaron Robinson is out. The guys who have been filling in — Jason Pinnock at safety, Nick McCloud, Rodarius Williams, Cor’Dale Flott at cornerback — did fine. Guys are backups for a reason, though, and the more they have to play the more you’d think they will get exposed.
4) Washington fans were certainly sad to see Dave Gettleman leave New York and may have been even sadder to see the Giants land Joe Schoen as their general manager. What are the early impressions of Schoen in NY?
Schoen is doing a fantastic job, and I think he is going to be Giants’ GM for a long time. He has had to make some difficult decisions to clean up the salary cap mess Gettleman left behind, and how he is getting through this season on a shoestring is pretty amazing. Schoen has brought a lot of quality people like Brandon Brown and Dennis Hickey into the front office. The Giants have had big contributions from a number of players who weren’t on the team when the initial 53-man roster was named. Guys like CB Fabian Moreau, LB Jaylon Smith, CB Nick McCloud, S Jason Pinnock, OL Tyre Phillips, WR Isaiah Hodgins, a DB like Tony Jefferson. It’s been amazing how the front office has supplemented the roster on the fly. I think Schoen is really smart, he works really hard to scout players in person, and he will do a good job. I look forward to seeing what he can do with more financial and draft resources.
5) What are you expecting the final score of the game to be this week? DraftKings Sportsbook has the over/under set at 40.5. How many points do you expect to be scored overall?
I pretty much always take the ‘under’ on Giants games. They want the game to be low-scoring — they aren’t built for a shootout style of game. They haven’t scored 30 points yet this season, and have only given up 30 or more points once. I think this is a ‘push the chips to the center of the table’ game for the Giants that they have to win. I think the game in Landover in a couple of weeks favors Washington since they have a bye and can concentrate on the Giants for three solid weeks. The Giants’ remaining schedule is brutal, and they have to beat the Commanders at least once to have a realistic shot at the playoffs. I think that desperation to win will help the Giants eke out a 20-19 victory.
Thanks again to Ed Valentine for taking time out of his day to answer our questions about the Giants.
As of right now, Vegas has Washington as 2.5 point favorites over New York. How would you bet?
This poll is closed
Washington wins by 3 or more points.
Washington wins by 2 points or less, or ties.
New York wins.
As of now, Vegas has the over/under for this game at 40.5 points. Which would you bet?
This poll is closed
41 or more total points are scored.
40 or fewer points are scored.