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Giants - Washington
Game 14 preview
Sunday Dec 18, 1:00 PM - Washington at Giants

Giants (7-5-1) Washington (7-5-1)
The Washington Commanders last game was played against the Giants at MetLife Stadium, before they went on their bye week. The game went into overtime, and ended with a 20-20 tie.
Last Sunday the Giants took on the division leading Philadelphia Eagles. The Giants were no match for the top team in the NFL playing at their best, and they ended up with a 48-22 loss.

Washington Commanders
Washington had to play 13 straight games before going on their bye week. That can be tough on the players, but somehow the Commanders handled the wear and tear, and won six of their last seven games before playing to a tie with the Giants. Their one loss during that stretch was just by one field goal to the Minnesota Vikings.
An important win on the season came when the Commanders handed the Philadelphia Eagles their only loss of the season. Having a late bye week break has given Washington an opportunity to come back rested, and stronger for their last four remaining games. Two of them are against division opponents, the Giants up next, and the Cowboys.

Washington Commanders Offense
Anyone thinking about Carson Wentz? In the offseason, the Indianapolis Colts swapped various draft picks with Washington, to allow the Commanders to acquire Wentz. They went 2-4 with Wentz as the starter. Since then, Taylor Heinicke has led the team to 5 wins, 1 loss and 1 tie. Wentz just came off injured reserve, and will serve as the backup quarterback for this game against the Giants. Both quarterbacks have about the same 62 percent completion percentage, and poor touchdown to interception ratio, 10-6 for Wentz, and 9-5 for Heinicke. Wentz is sacked about four times a game to Heinicke's two.
Head coach Ron Rivera has some decisions to make for the remaining games, and it will be interesting to see how things play out. Right now the best formula for the offense has been the use of their rushing attack. In the last four games they have rushed for at least 152 yards, and are averaging 162 yards a game. Rookie running back Brian Robinson Jr. is the leading rusher on the team, and he rushed for 96 yards on 15 carries last time against the Giants.
Antonio Gibson was the top rusher the last two years, and he's also the third leading receiver on the team. Wide receiver Terry McLaurin has led the team in catches and yards the last three years, and is the most targeted receiver, averaging 15.2 yards a catch. Curtis Samuel has eight less catches, and is dangerous when they just hand off the ball to him. He's averaged 6.1 yards on his 31 carries

Washington Commanders Defense
They have a strong defensive line that can play the run, and can get to the quarterback. The Commanders sacked Daniel Jones four times the first time these teams played. Defensive tackle Daron Payne was responsible for two of them, and he leads the team with 8.5 sacks. Jonathan Allen is next with 7.5, and defensive end Montez Sweat has 7 sacks, and the three are responsible for most of the teams' 34 overall sacks. Allen and Payne have combined for 30 tackles for a loss, which also has an impact on opposing teams trying to keep their offense on the field.
Their efforts are expected to get an added boost as defensive end Chase Young, the No. 2 pick in the 2020 draft, who was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, seems likely to play for the first time this season, after recovering from a torn ACL. The Giants offensive line, Nick Gates, Jon Feliciano, and Mark Glowinski need to do a better job than they did the last time they faced Washington. Teams have figured out how to beat the Giants rushing attack, and Saquon Barkley has averaged less than 3 yards a carry in the last four games.

Giants Offense
Daniel Jones has taken 41 sacks, and is the second most sacked quarterback in the NFL. Despite that, he's completed 66 percent of his passes, and thrown only 4 interceptions. It's also true that Jones has thrown only 12 touchdowns. There haven't been many opportunities to have a consistent passing attack with the receivers Jones has had available. Opposing defenses will lock in on top target Darius Slayton, and Richie James, who is no longer questionable after clearing concussion protocol on Friday. Isaiah Hodgins was a good waiver pick up, has played in only five games, and has been targeted more through them. Hodgins has 17 catches on 21 passes, and 2 touchdowns.
No one has better hands than tight end Daniel Bellinger, who is listed as questionable, after suffering a rib injury last game. Bellinger hasn't missed a catch in his last four games, and has caught 24 of 26 on the season. Saquon Barkley has also had his share of catches, but what the Giants really need him to do, is run with the ball. The offensive line shuffles have been a major problem all year for Barkley and Jones. Last time out against Washington, Jones completed 80 percent of his passes for 200 yards and 1 touchdown, and he ran 12 times for 71 yards. Saquon Barkley ran 18 times for 63 yards. If Jones wasn't sacked four times, that game might not have ended with a tie.

Giants Defense
Azeez Ojulari had another standout game since returning to the field for the first time since week 4 to play against the Commanders. In that game Ojulari had 1 sack, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. Last week he had 2 sacks, 2 quarterback hits, and 2 tackles for loss, giving him 4 sacks in 4 games following an 8 sack rookie season. Ojulari's return for that first game was a boost for the up front group until defensive lineman Leonard Williams left the game in the third quarter with a neck injury. The defense came up with 5 sacks, and 10 quarterback hits, but Taylor Heinicke was able to throw for 275 yards and 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions. The Giants secondary couldn't stop Terry McLaurin, who caught 8 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. Wide receivers Curtis Samuel and Jahan Dotson were also problems.
As much as the Giants could use him, safety Xavier McKinney will not play on Sunday. Top cornerback Adore Jackson was hoping to return, but that won't happen. Williams, listed as questionable, is likely to play, and the Giants can use all hands on deck to slow the running attack. Last time they gave up 165 rushing yards to the Commanders, who averaged 4.6 yards a carry. Last week they couldn't stop Miles Sanders, who had 2 touchdowns, and ran on them for 144 yards of the 253 total rushing yards they gave up.

The Giants would certainly like to forget the last game they played, meanwhile the Commanders have theirs stuck in their minds. After battling with the Giants to a 20-20 overtime tie, they were on a bye with nothing else to do but think about that game, and their next one also against the Giants. Both teams had their share of mistakes in that earlier game, and things could have gone either way.
Now they get a do over of sorts, and the venue will be at FedExField. Will that tip the scales this time for Washington to come up with a win?
The two teams are 7-5-1, and the Commanders currently hold a slim tiebreaker lead over the Giants by having a better division record.

NFC East Games
Sunday at 1:00pm Eagles (12-1) at Bears (3-10)
Sunday at 1:00pm Cowboys (10-3) at Jaguars (5-8)
Sunday at 8:20pm Giants (7-5-1) at Commanders (7-5-1)
The Eagles, Cowboys, and Commanders are the NFC East teams favored to win in these games.
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Next Games
Dec 24 Giants at Minnesota
Jan 1 Indianapolis at Giants

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