Keep an eye on these five players as the Giants conclude the first half of the season on Sunday
1. Giants make trades for picks. The news of the week at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center was the team trading defensive starters Damon Harrison and Eli Apple for draft picks. The Giants dealt Harrison, a 2016 All-Pro defensive tackle, to Detroit in exchange for a fifth-round choice in the 2019 NFL Draft. Apple, the 10th overall pick in 2016, was sent to New Orleans for a fourth-round choice next year and a seventh-round selection in 2020.
2. "It's not a nine-week tryout." While the trades were made with an eye on the future, the Giants' present situation is they are a 1-6 team with nine games to do something about it. Their first post-trade game is this Sunday at home against the Washington Redskins, who lead the NFC East at 4-2. "No, it's not a nine-week tryout," coach Pat Shurmur said. "We've got nine games left, playing one game at a time. Those are all things for people to talk about. We're moving forward, getting ready to play the Redskins."
3. Washington's number. The Giants have faced the Redskins 170 times in the regular season since their first game in 1932, making this their most frequently-contested rivalry. The Giants lead the all-time series, 99-67-4, including 7-3 in their last 10 meetings. Big Blue is also 6-2 against Washington at MetLife Stadium. In 2017, the Giants and Washington split their season series for the third year in a row, with each team winning at home.
4. Before the bye. The Giants' break fell directly in the middle of their schedule this year. After playing the Redskins in Week 8, they go on their bye week and do not play another game until the following Monday night at San Francisco. The Giants hold one of the best records in games prior to the bye week. They are tied with the Vikings with a 20-9 record (0.690), which trails only the Seattle Seahawks at 24-6 (.800).
5. Redskins' rankings. Coming off consecutive wins over Dallas and Carolina, Washington enters Sunday third in average time of possession (32:09), despite ranking 24th in total yards per game (337.5); 25th in points (21.0); 26th in passing (218.5); and 15th in rushing (119.0). Defensively, the Redskins are fifth in yards (325.7), sixth in scoring (19.7), 12th against the pass (238.3) and third against the run (87.3).
6. Next men up. While Dalvin Tomlinson (for Harrison) and B.W. Webb (for Apple) are the immediate beneficiaries of the trades, the Giants have to replace a third defensive starter after middle linebacker and defensive co-captain Alec Ogletree was ruled out with a hamstring injury. B.J. Goodson, who has played 41.4 percent of the Giants' defensive snaps this season, will step up in his place. Grant Haley and Sean Chandler are also expected to take on larger roles in the secondary. "It's an opportunity for those guys to get exposure and get a chance to play, and play more snaps," defensive coordinator James Bettcher said. "It might mean five more snaps for one guy. It might mean 20 more snaps for another guy. It might mean a starting role for a couple guys."
7. Trade you a 26 for 26? Rookie running back Saquon Barkley, who is second in the NFL with 905 yards from scrimmage, hopes to walk off the field on Sunday with a win and a No. 26 jersey – but not a blue one. Rather, he hopes to swap with Adrian Peterson, the three-time NFL rushing champ and former MVP now wearing No. 26 in his first season with the Redskins. Peterson, who ranks third in NFL history in rushing yards per game, is averaging 21.5 carries for 103.0 yards in his current team's four wins this season. In the Redskins' two losses, he has 15 attempts for 26 yards – total.
Peterson and Barkley have already exchanged compliments this week through the media, including the seven-time Pro Bowler saying the rookie's talent doesn't come around "every year or even two or three or four years." Barkley was honored to hear the remarks. "I'm not going to lie," Barkley said. "That'll be pretty cool if I was able to trade jerseys with Adrian."
8. Trouble in the red zone. The Giants are 25th in scoring this year largely because they are tied for 30th in the red zone. The offense has scored just nine touchdowns in 21 trips to the red zone (42.9 percent). The good news is the Redskins are giving up touchdowns on 68.8 percent of opponents' trips inside the 20. Meanwhile, the red zone has been a strength for the Giants' defense, which is sixth at 44.0 percent.
9. Finding the right O-line combination. The Giants used another offensive line combination last week when Spencer Pulley started at center and John Greco slid over to right guard in place of Patrick Omameh. Shurmur said he will stick with the same lineup on Sunday. Meanwhile, Eli Manning has been sacked 24 times so far this season, the most of his career through seven games.
10. Managing wins. The Redskins will be the third different team quarterback Alex Smith, who is 92-64-1 in the regular season, has started for against the Giants. He is 2-3 all-time against Big Blue: 1-2 with the 49ers (including the Giants' 2011 NFC Championship Game victory) and 1-1 with the Chiefs. In their Week 11 meeting last season against Kansas City, Manning went 4-for-5 for 60 yards in overtime, setting up a 23-yard game-winning field goal by Aldrick Rosas. Smith, who started last season 5-0 and lost to Tennessee in the first round of the playoffs, was traded to Washington this offseason as Kansas City handed the reins over to Patrick Mahomes and Minnesota signed Kirk Cousins.
"I think they're running their offense, so [Smith is] running the plays that [Redskins coach] Jay Gruden has run," Shurmur said. "He certainly can execute them in a way Kirk Cousins did. He's a very good quarterback. The thing about him is he's kind of a gritty, tough guy and so you think you've got – in the case of a throw – it defended or maybe you've got him hemmed in and he'll run for yardage. So I've always admired his style of play."