I’m not sure anyone could’ve predicted this before the season, or even a few weeks ago, but here it is; the 7-4 Giants hosting the 7-5 Commanders in a December matchup with enormous playoff implications. As it currently stands, both teams are sitting in the playoff field, as are both of the other NFC East squads. But Washington is trending up, while as New York is struggling with injuries, they find themselves in a bit of a slide, having lost 3 of their past 4 contests after a scorching start to the season. Let’s take a look at the odds and make some picks for a big NFC East clash.
Giants Vs. Commanders Betting Odds
Stop me if you saw this one coming a month ago- the Commanders are narrow road favorites in New Jersey, set at -2.5. The scoring total is being set at a less-surprising 40 points.
Giants Vs. Commanders Prediction
Don’t look now, but the Commanders are on fire- after a 1-4 start, they’ve won 6 of their past 7 games, including their past 3. This surge has come with Taylor Heinicke at the helm; he’s 5-1 on the season, and most notably helped the team pick up a huge road win against the then-undefeated Eagles. Not many people gave this team a chance entering the season, and fewer did just a month or so ago, but Washington are sitting in the NFC’s top seven and heading in the right direction. The first of a pair of consecutive matchups against the division rival Giants is going to be a major tone-setter for the rest of the Commanders’ season, so they’ll be looking to come out strong on the road and go into their bye week on a positive note.
The Giants were also seen as a potential bottom-feeder entering the season, but some overperforming players and more realistically, an outstanding coaching job by the new-look staff led by former Bills Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll had the team sitting at 6-1 to start the season. Suddenly, it became almost unthinkable that New York would miss the playoffs, but that could end up being a reality if they keep losing ground in the stunningly high-level NFC East. They just lost to the Cowboys again, and their next three games are Washington, Philadelphia, and Washington again- it could be a slippery slope if the ship isn’t righted very soon for the Giants.
Personally, I think the ship is going down. Coach Daboll has done an incredible job, and frankly deserves Coach of the Year if he can secure so much as two more wins to get this team over .500 for the year, but he can only do so much. The Giants core contributors have proven a lot this year, but with injuries mounting, the roster is not really deep enough to keep competing. I’m taking the Commanders to win and cover the narrow spread, and I’m also taking the under. The Giants defense has struggled a ton recently, but I trust Wink Martindale to limit the damage, and it’s not like Washington’s offense, while suddenly a bit resurgent, is much of a juggernaut. I’m thinking this is going to be a classic late-season gritty, low-scoring divisional clash.
The Commanders are on a veritable heater against the spread; they’re 6-0-1 in their past 7. Meanwhile, the Giants are 1-4 ATS in their past 5 divisional matchups
The under is 18-4 over the past nearly two dozen matchups between these teams, and it’s also 5-0-1 the past 6 times the Giants have hosted a team with a winning record.
Giants Injuries: Darius Slayton (Q), Leonard Williams (Q), Wan’Dale Robinson (O), Xavier McKinney (O), Adoree’ Jackson (O)
Commanders Injuries: Logan Thomas (Q), Antonio Gibson (Q), Trai Turner (Q)
Check out the key matchups and mismatches for Giants Vs. Commanders below.
Giants Run Game vs. Washington Ground Defense
Washington has a pretty commanding coverage unit; that paired with a banged-up wideout group, as well as some possible annoying wintery weather, is a recipe for the Giants to try hard to assert themselves on the ground in this one. They’re rushing for the sixth-most yards per game in the league on the season overall on the strength of a great bounce-back season for Saquon Barkley. However, the Penn State alum has slowed down in recent weeks, picking up 22 and 39 ground yards in the past two contests. Perhaps fatigue is setting in, but whatever the cause, the Giants offensive line, whose run-blocking has been just about league average this season, is going to have to pick up the slack and create some lanes to get him into open space against Washington.
They’ll have to do it against a Washington run-stopping unit that PFF sees as just 21st-best in the NFL, but is allowing just about 108 yards per game, comfortably a top-10 figure in the NFL. Edge rusher Montez Sweat has played up to potential, and been a real leader in the front seven; he’s missing just over 4% of tackles, while putting up a run-stop rate of almost 10% and an average depth of tackle of just a yard. Strong Safety Kamren Curl has also been a major contributor coming up into the box to stop the run, and is actually the team’s best run defender as per PFF grades. The rest of the defense has struggled at an individual level, so it’ll be interesting to see how Coach of the Year candidate Brian Daboll is able to maximize his team’s strength to attack the holes in this somewhat top-heavy unit.
Commanders Air Attack vs. Giants Pass Defense
The Giants’ secondary- ranked 31st on the season by PFF, so it’s hardly great at full strength- is so banged up that it practically begs an opposing offense to pass on them. So it’s fair to ask, can Washington do that? For the year overall, PFF has them in one of the bottom few spots for passing efficiency, and incredibly, they think that Taylor Heinicke has been even worse than Carson Wentz. That being said, the receiving group has been significantly better, albeit still pretty far from elite. They’re led by Terry McLaurin, who really has been fantastic in a tough situation, as he’s racked up 840 yards on 54 grabs so far. The team overall is passing for a pedestrian 203 yards per game, somehow pretty far from the bottom of the league, but definitely not a winning formula in today’s NFL. Still, a matchup against a secondary that’s really suffering may be just what they need to get on track.
As you can see in the injuries section above, the Giants pass coverage unit will be without Xavier McKinney and Adoree’ Jackson, the latter of which is a particularly significant loss considering how the two were playing before going down. Julian Love will have to pick up the slack at safety, while Fabian Moreau is the presumptive CB1, although Rodarius Williams has been solid in very limited time, he just grabbed his first pick of the season against Dak Prescott. They’re not likely to hold up too well however, so some help from the pass rush would be excellent; this group is markedly better, ranking 22nd in PFF’s grading system, led almost entirely by the performance of highly-drafted rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux. It’ll largely be up to the Oregon product to get after Washington’s lackluster pass-blocking o-line and make things tough for Heinicke before he has the chance to dissect the struggling secondary.