Let’s go ahead and set the over/under at 3 for Daniel Jones fumbles tonight. That actually might be a tad generous. With arguably the worst offensive line in football staring down arguably the best defensive line in football, this could get ugly for the G-Men on offense. That said, let’s give Jones credit where credit is due. In his short two-year career, he’s 4-0 against the Washington Football Team. Do he and the Giants simply have Washington’s number, or will Ron Rivera’s squad finally get their revenge?
Both teams are coming off disappointing home losses in Week 1. Washington fell 20-16 to the Chargers, and the Giants lost 27-13 in a lackluster performance against Denver. A Week 2 divisional win would be huge in an NFC East that could be very tight down the stretch. Falling to 0-2, on the other hand, would be a much tougher hill to climb. Since 2007, just 12% of teams that started 0-2 were able to recover and make the playoffs.
Let’s take a look at some matchups that will be key factors toward the outcome of tonight’s game:
O-Lines vs. D-Lines/Edge Rushers
As I mentioned earlier, Washington’s lethal defensive front will be licking their chops and should get serious pressure on Daniel Jones. This is a Giants offensive line that finished 31st in 2020 according to PFF. After giving up two sacks to Von Miller last week, it won’t get much easier this week with Chase Young, Montez Sweat, and Jonathan Allen staring you in the face. It also doesn’t help when your starting left guard, Shane Lemieux, is out with a knee injury.
On the flip side, we have a much more competitive matchup. Washington’s offensive line, led by All-Pro guard Brandon Scherff, has exceeded expectations in recent years. The Giants have some talent up front, however, led by Pro-Bowler Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, Lorenzo Carter, and rookie Azeez Ojulari, who had his first career sack in Week 1. I’m curious to see if the Giants can win that battle and put some pressure on Taylor Heinicke.
Receivers vs. Secondaries
The Giants certainly aren’t short on weapons, especially with the addition of Kenny Golladay and rookie Kadarius Toney. If the O-line can hold up, which is a big if, Jones should have some available targets on the outside. This is a Washington secondary that finished 2nd in 2020 in passing yards allowed, but the pressure they put on quarterbacks played a huge part in that. Look for Daniel Jones to get the ball out quickly to avoid the pass rush and to get the ball in the hands of his playmakers.
On offense for Washington, I’m expecting a solid game from Logan Thomas, who’s been one of Heinicke’s go-to targets. Curtis Samuel has officially been ruled out, meaning “Scary Terry” McLaurin will see increased touches. It won’t be easy, though, as New York’s secondary is full of playmakers. Safety Logan Ryan is an absolute ballhawk, leading the team with 8 tackles and a forced fumble in Week 1. James Bradberry was one of the top shutdown corners in 2020, and I can’t wait to see who wins the matchup between him and McLaurin.
With Saquon Barkley still limited with that knee injury, I don’t see the Giants having much success running the football. After struggling to run against a Denver team that finished 25th in the league in rushing yards allowed in 2020, I don’t see it getting much better against an extremely talented Washington front-7. That said, If Saquon’s knee magically starts feeling better, that could change the narrative.
The G-Men were stout against the run last year but got completely gashed a week ago. They gave up 165 yards on the ground and allowed Melvin Gordon to rush for nearly 10 yards per carry, including a 70-yard house call. I’m sure Antonio Gibson enjoyed watching that tape, but I expect the Joe Judge’s Giants to sure up that run defense and be much more formidable this time around.
This won’t be your typical Mahomes-Allen-type QB matchup that we seem to get so often these days. Daniel Jones hasn’t lived up to his potential as the 6th overall pick back in 2019. The talent is there, but the turnovers have come in abundance. Since entering the league, Jones has turned the ball over 40 times, most in the NFL. 18 of those, by the way, are lost fumbles. No other quarterback has more than 12 during that span. The O-line hasn’t done him many favors, but that’s no excuse for turning the ball over at that rate.
As for Taylor Heinicke, this will be just his 2nd career regular-season start. The last couple of times we’ve seen him, he’s played well against solid defenses. In the wild-card round last year, he threw for over 300 yards against the eventual Super Bowl champs, showing off his arm talent and his ability to make plays with his feet. After Fitzpatrick went down in Week 1, Heinicke stepped in and went 11-for-15 for 122 yards and a touchdown. With the experience of Jones, I’ll give him the edge, but don’t be surprised if Heinicke outplays him tonight.
Advantage: Giants (barely)
I think Washington, at home, gets the win tonight. I see Daniel Jones being under pressure all night and turning the ball over once, maybe twice. New York has the talent and the defense to stay in this game and possibly pull off a huge road win. When it’s all said and done, though, that Washington defense will be too much for the Giants to handle.
Final Score: Washington 23, Giants 17
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