Rarely before in NFL history has a regular season game between two teams at the bottom of their respective division meant so much. For the New York Giants and Washington Commanders, their second showdown on Sunday Night Football will be just that.
Both the Commanders and Giants sit at 7-5-1 on the season and in playoff spots if the season ended today. The winner of their second meeting however will not only position themselves to almost guarantee a playoff spot, but also sink the loser to the point of potential elimination.
The two teams met two weeks ago when a 20-20 tie set the stage for this weekend. How important is this game? According to Football Outsiders, a win for the Giants would improve their playoff odds to 90%. With a loss, the odds plummet to 31%.
It’s even starker for Washington. A win gives the Commanders an 86% chance to make the playoffs while a loss sinks them to 28%.
It’ll be do-or-die time for both teams as we enter the final stretch of the NFL season. Here are three keys to keeping an eye on throughout the contest.
New York Giants (7-5) at Washington Commanders (7-5)
- Location: FedEx Field in Landover, MD
- Time: Sunday, 8:15 p.m. ET
- Channel: NBC
- Radio: WFAN 101.9 FM/660 AM, WADO 1280 AM (Spanish language)
- Spread: WAS -4.5
- Over/Under: 40.5 points
- Moneyline odds: WAS -215, NYG +185
Interior Battle in the trenches
It works both ways for both teams. The Philadelphia Eagles just decimated the Giants’ interior offensive line on Sunday. It gets even harder for New York against Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen.
Allen and Payne totaled three sacks on the day last time the two teams faced off. It’ll be up to New York’s offensive line and coaching staff to figure out a way to limit their impact on the field.
On the other side, Washington’s offensive line isn’t that much better but could have big problems on Sunday. Whether Leonard Williams plays or not, Dexter Lawrence is having a pro-bowl-caliber season and can change a game in an instant.
Whoever wins the battle of the interior will be in great shape to win on Sunday.
Terry McLaurin against the field
In the two team’s first matchup, McLaurin caught eight passes for 105 yards and a score. His ability to get open and find the weakness of the Giants’ blitz made life miserable for New York.
That could happen again if Adoree Jackson is still hurt and out for Sunday.
Jackson has been one of the best corners the Giants have had in recent memory but the injury that he suffered on a punt return has changed the complexion of the Giants’ season. Washington has plenty of offensive weapons to worry about like Curtis Samuel, Brian Johnson, and Jahan Dotson, but this team still centers around McLaurin’s top abilities.
Aggressive, Aggressive, Aggressive
Head coach Brian Daboll has done an incredible job of getting the Giants to a point where they are on the cusp of a potential playoff berth.
That doesn’t mean he’s been perfect though. In the 20-20 tie just two weeks ago, Daboll chose to sit on the ball and effectively play for the tie instead of going for the win. The coaching staff as a whole seemed to be less aggressive against the Eagles a week later.
If the Giants are to win on Sunday, aggressiveness will be the key to their success. The same aggressiveness that won them the game against Tennessee, Baltimore, and Green Bay.
If New York’s coaching staff comes out aggressive, chances are they’ll be in a great spot to win the game on Sunday.