Washington takes on the Giants this week after it dropped four straight games - two apiece to Dallas and Philadelphia. This is a rematch from Week 2, when Washington prevailed, 30-29, on a dead-ball field goal after a offside flag nullified a missed attempt on the game's final snap.
Here's what I've seen on tape:
When Washington has the ball…
Taylor Heinicke remains Washington's starting quarterback. He put up good numbers against the Eagles after struggling against Dallas in his previous two starters. He went 27-36 for 247 yards and an interception against Philadelphia last week. He has averaged 220 passing yards per game, and has 20 touchdowns to 15 interceptions this season.
Terry McLaurin remains Washington's top wide receiver. He has 73 catches for 960 yards, including 26 grabs for 15+ yards. He has four 100-yard receiving games this season. Fellow wide receiver Curtis Samuel, who's been limited to five games, did not practice with a hamstring injury on Wednesday and has not played in a game since Dec. 12. Cam Sims, Adam Humphries, DeAndre Carter, and Dyami Brown split the other wide receiver reps last week.
Starting tight end Logan Thomas is out for the season with a knee injury. John Bates and Ricky Seal-Jones have stepped into the lineup. Last week, Bates had three catches for 35 yards and played 92% of Washington's snaps.
Running back Antonio Gibson missed last week's game after being placed on the COVID list. He was removed from the list earlier this week. In 15 games, Gibson has run for 891 yards on 3.8 yards per carry with six rushing touchdowns. The former NCAA receiver also has 41 catches for 289 yards. Fellow dual-threat running back JD McKissic (neck) was placed on injured reserve on Dec. 21 and will not play. Last week, undrafted rookie free agent Jaret Patterson (5-9, 195 pounds) ran for 57 yards and a TD on 12 carries. He starred at the University of Buffalo, where he was the 2020 MAC MVP after rushing for 1,000 yards in only six games while averaging 7.6 yards per carry. Wendell Smallwood and Jonathan Williams may also get snaps at running back.
Washington was without starters Ereck Flowers Sr. (LG) and Sam Cosmi (RT), but that have since been activated off the COVID-19 list and are expected to play. RG Brandon Scherff is their best lineman. Charles Leno has been their starting left tackle all season and center Keith Ismael took over for the injured Chase Roullier after the eighth game.
Keys for the Giants' defense…
1. Stop the run
2. Force Taylor Heinicke into turnovers on favorable down and distances
3. Don't let Terry McLaurin wreck the game
View rare photos of the all-time series between the New York Giants and the Washington Commanders.
When the Giants have the ball…
Washington is dealing with injuries to their front four. Chase Young tore his ACL in November and is out for the season. Fellow defensive end Montez Sweat returned in December after being sidelined with a fractured jaw, but missed last Sunday's game to mourn the death of his brother, who was killed in a shooting. Defensive tackles Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, and Matt ioannidis have been productive. Allen leads the team with 8.5 sacks and 28 quarterback hits. Payne has 4.5 sacks with 13 quarterback hits and Ionnidis 2.5 sacks with 10 quarterback hits. Last week, Casey Toohill, Bunmi Rotimi, and rookies William Bradley-King and Shaka Toney took the team's snaps at defensive end – they did not have a sack.
Cole Holcomb is the team's three-down inside linebacker, and he leads the team with 131 tackles, including two tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. He also has seven passes defended and a sack. Last week, he played the team's weak-side linebacker while former Giants linebacker David Mayo played 40 snaps in the middle and first-round pick Jamin Davis managed only 13 snaps.
Cornerback William Jackson (hip/COVID protocol) is unlikely to play, leaving Danny Johnson and Kendall Fuller as the team's two starting cornerbacks. Johnson played some nickel cornerback as did safety Bobby McCain. Safety Kamren Curl is the team's second-leading tackler and can play some slot. Jeremy Reaves was the team's third safety last week.
Keys for the Giants' offense…
1. Maintain the depth of the pocket against a fierce interior pass rush
2. Win matchups outside against the Washington cornerbacks
3. Make some big plays in the passing game