After starting the season with four primetime contests in the first six weeks – and four road games overall – the Giants (1-5) return home for back-to-back 1 p.m. kickoffs against the Commanders and Jets, who both improved to 3-3 with victories last Sunday.
The Commanders ended a three-game losing streak with a 24-16 victory over the Falcons, while the Giants took the Bills down to the final play in Buffalo but ultimately fell 14-9. History is on the Giants' side as they are 6-3-1 against the Commanders since 2018, but they'll have to prove it on Sunday.
"They've played well," coach Brian Daboll said in his weekly conversation with Giants.com about the Commanders, who are 2-1 on the road. "That's usually what happens in this league. You play good, whether you're home or away, you have a chance to come out on top. If you don't, and you make mistakes, regardless of where you play, you usually don't. You could play good for one game and still be on the wrong end of it."
Once again, the New York Giants are bringing back their classic blue uniforms from the '80s and '90s for the 2023 season as part of two Legacy Games presented by Quest.
Here are three keys to victory:
Saquon does Saquon things (which he tends to do vs. Washington)
Everyone knows the Giants' injury situation, which has included five different offensive line combinations. Justin Pugh, for example, came "straight off the couch" to start for the Giants in Buffalo and quickly had to change positions to left tackle. Meanwhile, quarterback Daniel Jones continues to deal with a neck injury.
The one constant, however, has been Saquon Barkley's success against Washington over the years. Barkley averages 129.4 yards from scrimmage in seven career games against Washington. On December 22, 2019, he broke Tiki Barber's single-game franchise record with 279 yards from scrimmage in a 41-35 victory … over Washington. Another big game could go a long way to a Giants win, which in turn would go a long way for the rest of the season.
"It can do a lot. It can do a lot," Barkley said. "All it takes is one, one win to get the confidence. Even in the games you lose, you can find that sometimes that can be a helpful turning point throughout the season. A team like Buffalo, going there in a hostile environment, playing a really good team, coming out with a game that we feel like we should've had, obviously we didn't do enough. We could use that as the turning point and help catapult us to come into this week playing back in our stadium, with our fans against a divisional opponent and get a divisional win. Could be the start of something special."
Get to Sam Howell
The only team that has allowed more sacks than the Giants (33) are the Commanders (34). That might open an opportunity for a Giants defense that has only five on the season. Pressures often aren't enough against Commanders quarterback Sam Howell, who is gaining a reputation for standing tall while under duress.
"He's not afraid to turn it loose, stands in the pocket, has a good arm," Daboll said. "He's not afraid to fire it. So, he's a tough competitor. Liked him coming out, and he's done a good job there."
"I think that each week he improves," defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said. "You can see that he's getting used to (Commanders offensive coordinator) Eric's (Bieniemy) system and he has some Josh Allen type qualities. I'm not saying he's that yet, but he has those type qualities. He's got great awareness in the pocket, and he can throw the football. So, it's going to be a challenge for us."
The Giants have not scored an offensive touchdown since the third quarter of Week 3, a stat that will continue to be repeated until it isn't required. Among those numbers is a last-ranked red-zone offense. The Giants have come away with points in just 62.5 percent of trips inside the 20.
"It's really everything," offensive coordinator Mike Kafka said. "You look at our fundamentals, our techniques, look at some of the drives that we're running there. What's stopping us from getting points? Is it penalties? Is it execution? Is it play calling? So, you evaluate that. I'm really critical of myself on all those things, too. We practice it, we talk about it, we had some opportunities. We had five opportunities down there; we weren't able to get into the end zone, but I think it's a step in the right direction. We got some opportunities, now we've got to capitalize on them. That's what we're doing today in practice."
Stats to impress your fellow football fans
Since 2022, the Commanders are 11-3-1 in games when they have had 1+ takeaway; they are 0-8 in games without a takeaway in that span.
The Commanders have allowed 1,202 receiving yards to wide receivers in 2023 (most in NFL).
Howell has been sacked 34 times in 2023 (most in NFL). Only David Carr (39 in 2002 and 35 in 2005) was sacked more in his team's first six games of a season since 1970.
View photos of the MetLife Stadium field design for Week 7's Legacy Game - presented by Quest®