The New York Giants (3-11) will look to win their second consecutive game when they face off against the Washington Redskins (3-11) at FedEx Field this Sunday. It is the second meeting of the season between the two NFC East rivals. The Giants emerged with the 24-3 victory in Week 4 in what was Daniel Jones' first start at MetLife Stadium.
Here are three keys to victory for the Giants this week:
Keep Saquon rolling
Saquon Barkley is coming off his first 100-yard rushing performance since the middle of September. Barkley took 24 carries for 112 yards (4.7 yards per carry) and two touchdowns against the Dolphins last week, with a long run of only 12 yards. It was just the third time this season that the second-year back topped 100 yards rushing, with the first two instances coming in Weeks 1 and 2. Washington enters Week 16 ranked 28th in the league in rushing yards allowed (136.4 yards per game). Two weeks ago, Green Bay's Aaron Jones carried the ball 16 times for 134 yards (8.4 YPC) and a touchdown, while Philadelphia's Miles Sanders gained 122 yards on 19 carries (6.4 YPC) and a touchdown this past weekend. If the Giants can get their star running back rolling again, the offense should be able to move the ball down the field against Washington's defense.
"The O-line did a great job creating holes and stopping penetration and having movement," Barkley told reporters when asked about his success last week. "Coaches made great calls, put me in the right spots, and I got some one on ones. Obviously, you don't win them all, but I won more than I lost. I don't think we had one run over 12 yards, so it was more of just grind and pound and efficient gain. We were able to get into the fourth quarter, run the ball a little more, Buck (Javorius-Buck Allen) was able to go in there and show his skillset too. I think it was a good day for the running game and for running backs."
Give the QB time in the pocket
The Redskins' run defense may be struggling, but the same cannot be said about their pass rush. Washington has racked up 42 sacks this season, tied for the seventh-most in the NFL. While Matt Ioannidis leads the way with 8.5 sacks, the Redskins have a well-balanced pass rush overall, as Montez Sweat (five sacks), Jonathan Allen (five) and Ryan Anderson (four) have also shown an ability to get after the quarterback. Whether it's Daniel Jones or Eli Manning under center, the Giants' offensive line will have to give the quarterback time to operate in the pocket. Over the last four weeks, the Giants have given up only four sacks total. Sunday will be another good test for the unit, as the Redskins' pass rush has been surging recently, picking up 13 sacks through their last three games. Even if right guard Kevin Zeitler is unable to suit up due to injury, the Giants have a strong backup in Nick Gates. Filling in for Zeitler last week, Gates did not allow a single pressure and earned an overall grade of 82.1 from PFF.
Limit Adrian Peterson
Adrian Peterson turns 35 in March, yet you would never be able to tell by the way the veteran back runs the ball. The 13-year pro still runs with the same physical, downhill style that earned him seven All-Pro nods throughout his career. Over Washington's last three games, Peterson has rushed the ball 49 times for 241 yards (4.9 yards per carry), while finding the end zone in each outing. The Giants run defense, meanwhile, over the course of the season. Prior to Sunday's game against Miami, the Giants had limited opponents to under 4.0 yards per carry in each of their previous four games. On the season, the Giants rank 22nd in rushing yards allowed per game (115.1). If the Giants can stop Peterson on the ground, it will force the Redskins to rely on the arm of rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who has averaged just 182 passing yards per game over six starts.
"He's a monster," Barkley said about Washington's veteran running back. "AP, he's one of the best running backs to ever do it. I know he just tied Walter Payton's touchdown record, I don't know if he broke it— hopefully he doesn't break it next week if he didn't. But I've been a big fan of him, got to talk to him multiple times. He always gives me great words of encouragement, but just a big fan. I love watching his game and it's amazing to see what he's able to do at this age."
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