The Giants host the Washington Commanders (7-5) on Sunday at Metlife Stadium. Washington has won six of its past seven games (all but one of those six wins were one-score affairs) and stands a half-game behind the Giants (7-4) in the NFC East.
When the Commanders have the ball…
Numbers to know
4.87: Average yards per play gained by Washington this year - 29th in the NFL
The Commanders struggle moving the football consistently up and down the field. Their 19.4 points scored per game ranks 24th in the NFL. They are 15th in the league in rush yards per game (121.1) but their 3.98 yards gained per rush play ranks 28th.
45.6%: Run play rate in 1st halves – 8th highest in the NFL
Washington wants to run the football and everything works off that.
32:46: Time of possession – Best in the NFL
The Commanders run long, deliberate drives that eat up the clock. Their 9.29 average number of plays per scoring drive ranks fourth the league.
36: Plays of 20+ yards – tied for 26th in the NFL
Washington struggles to find explosive plays in the run and pass game. Their 134 pays of 10 yards or more is tied for 24th in the NFL.
36.8%: Third-down conversion rate – 26th in the NFL
Washington can convert in third-and-short situations, but they struggle in any third-down situations of 3rd-and-4 or longer. From four to six yards, they are only converting 33% of their tries (29th) and on 10+, they are at 9.5% (30th).
Players to know
Taylor Heinicke: He is completing only 60.8% of his passes with seven touchdowns and five interceptions. Pro Football Focus has tracked him for 12 turnover worthy plays this season, despite only playing in six games. Heinicke will hold onto the ball. His 2.96 second average time to throw is tied for the sixth-longest in the NFL of quarterbacks with at least 100 dropbacks, according to PFF. He has gone 4-of-13 with two TDs and two INTs on passes traveling 20 yards in the air.
The offensive line has played well enough for the offense to function. Cornelius Lucas and Sam Cosmi are sharing time at right tackle, while Charles Leno has been solid at left tackle. Andrew Norwell and Trai Turner are veteran guards, while Tyler Larsen is starting at center for Chase Roullier. The Commanders have allowed a 38.6% pressure rate this year, according to PFF, which is the fourth-worst in the NFL.
Terry McLaurin: One of the best receivers in football, McLaurin has the speed and quickness to separate, route running prowess to get open, and the hands to bring in contested catches. He leads Washington with 54 catches for 840 yards. His 840 receiving yards ranks eighth in the NFL and his 15.6 yard per catch average is seventh. He mostly lines up outside on the left, but he has lined up 135 times in the slot this season. He has had at least four catches in every game Heinicke has started. Honorable mention to slot receiver Curtis Samuel (48-493-2). He is often used in plays near the line of scrimmage to set up catch-and-run opportunities.
Brian Robinson: Since returning from gun shot wounds that he received in a preseason incident, Robinson has been the team's primary ball carrier and is an interior sledgehammer on early downs at 6'2 and 225 pounds. He has 467 rushing yards over eight games. Robinson is coming off his best game of the season last week vs. Atlanta, with 105 rushing yards on 18 carries. Gibson is featured more prominently in the passing game and is third on the team with 40 receptions and 306 receiving yards.
Keys for the Giants' defense
* Stop the run on early downs
* Force Taylor Heinicke into mistakes by making him play from behind (score and down and distance) by pressuring him into mistakes
* Don't let Terry McLaurin wreck the game with big plays down the field
View rare photos of the all-time series between the New York Giants and the Washington Commanders.
When the Giants have the ball…
Numbers to know
310: Yards allowed per game – 8th in the NFL
The Commanders' defense stands in the top half of the league in most metrics. They rank 11th in defensive DVOA (an overall defensive efficiency metric) with slightly better numbers against the run than the pass.
-337: Negative play yards forced on defense – 3rd most in the NFL
The Commanders make plays on defense because of their defensive front; they have 30 sacks (tie dfor 12th) and own a 37.4% pressure rate (ninth).
77.96: Opponent passer rating vs. blitzes – 5th best in the NFL
Washington does not blitz often (17.2% blitz rate – fourth-lowest in the NFL according to PFF) but when they do they are effective. Washington stunts at 29.5% (sixth-highest rate).
33.3%: Third down conversion rate – 4th best in the NFL
On 3rd-and-10 or more, opponents are converting a paltry 5.4% of their attempts, which is the lowest rate in the league. On 3rd-and-7 or more, teams are at 15.6% (fourth-lowest).
6.1: Average yards allowed on first down – 4th worst in the NFL
Washington's defense has struggled stopping the passing game on first down, allowing a 105.9 passer rating, which is 30th.
Players to watch
Montez Sweat: Sweat leads the Commanders in sacks (7), quarterback hits (24) and is third in tackles for loss (11). According to PFF, he leads the Commanders in total pressures (55) and pressure rate (16.4%). Sweat wins with length and power at 6'6 and 262 pounds. He will primarily line up over the opposing team's left tackle.
Jonathan Allen: Allen is tied for the second-most sacks on the team with 6.5. According to PFF, he has 48 total pressures. He is also second on the team with 16 quarterback hits, and leads the team with 14 tackles for loss. He lines up almost exclusively on the opponent's left guard.
Daron Payne: Allen's running mate at defensive tackle, Payne is more of a power player at 6'3 and 320 pounds. He will line up mostly over the opposing team's right guard and near the center. He has 6.5 sacks this season and 14 quarterback hits. According to PFF, he has 38 total pressures.
Darrick Forest: Safety Darrick Forest leads Washington with three interceptions and is fourth the team with 57 tackles. Fellow safery Kamren Curl is third with 65 stops. Washington mixes up their coverages; according to PFF, their defense hasn't used one specific coverage more than 25% of the time. Cover-1, Cover-3 and Quarters each has been used 18-23% of the snaps. Kendall Fuller is their top cornerback with Bobby McCain in the slot. Benjamin St. Juste is their other outside cornerback, but he missed last week with a knee injury and was replaced by Christian Holmes.
Keys for the Giants' offense
* Throw successfully on first down to avoid third-down situations
* Control the depth of the pocket against the Commanders' pass rush
* Do not become a one-dimensional passing team