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Giants - Washington
Game 12 preview
Sunday Dec 4, 1:00 PM - Washington at Giants

Giants (7-4) Washington (7-5)
The Washington Commanders are coming off a 19-13 win over the Atlanta Falcons. It was exciting for their home fans, as the game came down to an intercepted pass in the end zone with less than a minute left.
The Giants took a 28-20 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day. The Giants held a 13-7 lead at the half, but couldn't keep it going.

Washington Commanders
We're into week 13 in the NFL season, and the Commanders have yet to have a bye week. That's right, they do not have one until after this next game with the Giants. Though the Commanders have had to undergo such a long stretch of games without a break, they will have an opportunity to come back stronger for the last four remaining games. Two of them are against division opponents, the Giants and the Cowboys.
Quarterback issues have plagued Washington ever since Kirk Cousins left. In five years, they have switched starters, for one reason or another, 14 times. Before the 2021 season, Taylor Heinicke was Washington's "quarantine quarterback", taking online math classes at Old Dominion. They had to call on him for their playoff game in place of injured starter Alex Smith.
Though Washington lost, Heinicke did well in that game. In just his second pro start, Heinicke threw for 306 yards and 1 touchdown, and ran for 46 yards and a touchdown. Last year Heinicke was a backup for
Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was injured early in the season opener. Heinicke stepped in to finish that game, and all but one that followed. Washington ended up with a 7-10 record. In the offseason, the Indianapolis Colts swapped various draft picks with Washington, to allow them to acquire Carson Wentz.

Washington Commanders Offense
Carson Wentz went on injured reserve after suffering a broken finger in game six with the Bears. The Commanders went 2-4 with Wentz, and then 4-2 with Heinicke, who will be the starter going into their bye week. Heinicke may not have the throwing skills that Wentz has, but may have a better understanding of what he can do on the field. In the same amount of games, Wentz took 23 sacks, and Heinicke 9, and both could do better with their touchdown to interception ratio.
Heinicke's numbers have been helped by the shift in emphasis to the running game. Washington ranks high in the number of rushing attempts. Rookie Brian Robinson has recovered after being shot twice during an attempted robbery in August. Robinson had his best game last week against Atlanta, where he averaged 5.8 yards per carry, and 105 rushing yards. Robinson teams up with Antonio Gibson, who last year led the team in carries (258), rushing yards (1037), and touchdowns - 7 rushing and 3 receiving.
Gibson currently leads the team in carries and yards, and is also the third leading receiver behind Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel. They and tight end Logan Thomas, account for over 70 percent of the first down passes that have been thrown. McLaurin was the teams top receiver last year in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. McLaurin's 15.6 yards per catch currently has him as one of the top ten receivers in the league.

Washington Commanders Defense
They have a strong defensive line that can play the run, and can get to the quarterback. Defensive end Montez Sweat leads the team with 7 sacks, including 4 in the past three games. Defensive tackles Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne, each have 6.5 sacks, and the three are responsible for most of the teams' 30 overall sacks. Sweat has really been bringing it. In the last three games, he had 4 sacks. Allen and Payne have combined for 27 tackles for a loss, which also has an impact on opposing teams trying to keep their offense on the field.
There's also a chance that edge rusher Chase Young will make it back for this game. The No. 2 pick in the 2020 draft, who was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, is currently listed as questionable. Chase suffered a torn ACL more than a year ago. Washington might opt to have Young sit this one out, and have him available after the bye, when they play the final four games of the season. They have a run defense ranked
8th in the league, and against the Giants, they'll figure that's where their focus should be.

Giants Offense
It's no secret that the Giants need to get the running game going again. Saquon Barkley hasn't looked himself, and three of the four games where the Giants failed to rush for 100 yards have been losses. The Seahawks came up with a gameplan that held Barkley to his lowest average per carry of the season, 2.7. Barkley had 20 carries for 53 yards and one touchdown in that loss. Things looked better the following week with a win against the Texans, who have one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. Detroit and Dallas after that, were able to better what the Seahawks did, limiting Barkley to 22 and 39 yards, and the Giants had two more losses.
Not all of this is on Barkley, as there has been the losses of tackle Evan Neal, guard Ben Bredeson, and tight end Daniel Bellinger to injury over this time. The offensive line should be stronger, as Neal, Bredeson, and even Bellinger may return for this game. Daniel Jones also has not rushed with the ball that much over the last four games. Jones had only three carries last game, and it might help to get some eyes off Barkley. Last week, Atlanta quarterback Marcus Mariota gained 49 yards on six carries against the Washington defense. Darius Slayton was suffering with an illness during the week, but looks to have recovered in time for this game.

Giants Defense
The Giants are coming off a loss to the Dallas Cowboys, and for the second straight game, they did not record a sack. In all fairness, the Cowboys offensive line has only allowed 14 sacks in the 11 games they played, and the Giants did apply pressure. Rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux would like sacks, but he did get 5 hits on quarterback Dak Prescott, who threw two interceptions in the game, and the edgy Cowboys ended up with four false starts. Some good news is that linebacker Azeez Ojulari will be on the field for this game to help Thibodeaux bring quarterback pressure. Ojulari led the team in sacks last year, and has missed the last seven games due to a calf injury.
That said, you can't sack a quarterback when he's not throwing. What the Giants will have to watch out for the most is Brian Robinson Jr. and Antonio Gibson running the ball. Washington is leaning more on them than Taylor Heinicke, and opposing defenses also have to watch out for wide receiver Curtis Samuel suddenly taking off on runs for a first down.
The Giants run defense has not been good all season. They rank 26th in rushing yards allowed per game, and 30th in rushing yards per play. They gave up even more yards in their last two losses. Gibson is listed as questionable, so the Giants might catch a break.

We are into week 13 of the NFL season, and less than half the teams have winning records. The 7-4 Giants and the 7-5 Commanders are the only two teams to have the gall to come up with winning records, while scoring less points than they have given up. Only 6 NFL teams have better records than the Commanders and the Giants. Good coaching, and coming up with the right plays at the right time, have been big factors that have led to their success.
The 10-1 Philadelphia Eagles have the best record in the NFL. The Commanders and Giants will face off this Sunday in an effort to try to climb a very tough division ladder. One team will be even with the 8-3 Dallas Cowboys, and the loser will be last in the division, but still very much in the mix as a wildcard playoff team. The way the schedule works out, the Commanders will play this game against the Giants, have a bye week to digest the results, then play them again.

NFC East Games
Sunday at 1:00pm Commanders (7-5) at Giants (7-4)
Sunday at 1:00pm Titans (7-4) at Eagles (10-1)
Sunday at 8:30pm Colts (4-6-1) at Cowboys (8-3)
The Commanders, Eagles, and the Cowboys are the NFC East teams favored to win in these games.
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Next Games
Dec 11 Eagles at Giants
Dec 17/18 Giants at Washington

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