Preview: Washington at New York Giants

Last season’s Week 17 matchup between the New York Giants and Washington featured a playoff-bound Giants team ending Washington’s playoff hopes.

One year later, the circumstances could not be more different.

The equally doomed NFC East rivals see their seasons mercifully end on Sunday, but not before they square off in a frozen finale on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium (1:00 PM, FOX).

The Giants (2-13) will play their first game since the hiring of new general manager Dave Gettleman, looking to start anew after last week’s humiliating 23-0 Christmas Eve loss to the Arizona Cardinals. It was the first time the Giants had been shut out since the 2014 season. One of the fleeting bright spots was a pair of interceptions by cornerback Ross Cockrell, the first multi-interception game of his career.

Washington (7-8) is likewise eliminated from playoff contention, but managed to earn some pride back in their home finale via a 27-11 win over the Denver Broncos at FedEx Field. In what could be his final appearance in burgundy, quarterback Kirk Cousins threw for 299 yards and three touchdowns to a trio of receivers.

 

Season Series History

The Giants are seeking their 100th win against Washington, leading the all-time set 99-68-4. In recent times, Washington has slightly turned the tide of the rivalry, winning three of the past four meetings, including a 20-10 decision in Landover on Thanksgiving.

The lone outlier in that quartet was last season’s 19-10 Giants win in Week 17 last season. Washington needed the home victory to keep their playoff hopes alive, but the Giants, locked into the NFC’s top wild card spot, shut the door with a strong defensive performance. With a chance to win the game, Cousins was intercepted by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, shortly after a field goal have the Giants the lead for good. Rookie Paul Perkins had 102 yards rushing in the victory.

 

The Competitive Edge

Unit Giants Washington
Quarterback X
Running Back X
Receivers X
Tight Ends X
Offensive Line X
Defensive Line X
Linebackers X
Secondary X
Special Teams X
Coaching  X

Key Matchup To Watch: Giants Rookie OT’s vs. Washington Front Seven

Gettleman has made it abundantly clear that he’s not fooling around when it comes to his now job. Within 24 hours of accepting the job, he has already made two major dismissals, bidding farewell to Vice President of Player Evaluation Marc Ross and starting tackle Bobby Hart.

In the (very) short term, the release of Hart and possible injury-related absence of Ereck Flowers means the Giants will be likely depending on a pair of rookies to handle the Washington defensive line, one of whom may be making his NFL debut.

Chad Wheeler is expected to take what’s become a customary spot on the line, and this week he’ll be joined by Adam Bisnowaty, the Giants’ sixth-round selection last spring. Bisnowaty has spent the entire season this far on the practice squad, but now gets an NFL welcome that could feature Ryan Kerrigan and Junior Gallette.

Meanwhile, the undrafted Wheeler struggled against Washington’s line on Thanksgiving. It’ll be interesting to see how much his game has improved since that brutal holiday bummer, where the Giants failed to tally a second half first down until its final stages.

Injury Report

Team Player Injury Status
Giants WR Tavarres King Concussion OUT/IR
Giants TE Evan Engram Rib OUT
Giants WR Sterling Shepard Neck OUT
Giants T Ereck Flowers Groin QUESTIONABLE
Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul Back/Finger/Ankle QUESTIONABLE
Washington LB Ryan Anderson Knee OUT
Washington DE Ziggy Hood Elbow OUT
Washington LB Zach Brown Illness/Knee/Achillies OUT
Washington WR Robert Davis Concussion QUESTIONABLE
Washington LB Martrell Spaight Illness/Ankle QUESTIONABLE
Washington WR Maurice Harris Back QUESTIONABLE
Washington G Kyle Kalis Back/Ankle QUESTIONABLE
Washington DL Terrell McClain Toe QUESTIONABLE
Washington LB Ryan Kerrigan Calf QUESTIONABLE

The Giants Will Win If…

The motivation of 2018….and not just in the form of quarterback Davis Webb.

Just because Gettleman has made some big moves early on, doesn’t mean the Giants are a lock to win their season finale. They’re still missing major pieces due to the dreaded IR, and a good number of guys are making their NFL debuts. The game may be meaningless, and a good amount of fans who brave the Arctic temperatures will more than likely forget about the game before they even leave the frozen parking lots.

But for certain fringe guys on this roster, this game takes on enormous importance. Gettleman hasn’t been afraid to clench his fist in his infantile tenure. Just imagine who will go if players don’t give full efforts in the first game he presides over.

Washington Will Win If…

They want to impress potential departees.

This very well could be the final time that Cousins and head coach Jay Gruden dress in Washington gear on Sunday’s. Cousins is probably going to earn himself a large payday from Washington or elsewhere, while Gruden is going to be one of the many coaches on the hot seat come Monday.

A win, an eighth victory that would clinch Washington’s third consecutive non-losing season (something they haven’t accomplished since 1999-2001) would do just a little bit to entice Cousins to stay and help convince management Gruden deserves another year. Washington, still trying to gain consistency that hasn’t eluded their NFC East rivals over the past two decades, can use all the help they can get in both options.

Prediction

Be patient, Giants fans.

You don’t throw parades down the Canyon of Heroes for impressive introductory press conferences, and immediate firings of major contributors don’t automatically put number sin the win column. The Giants will be missing their top four receivers on Sunday, and it’s a gargantuan task to ask for a win with seemingly half the team making their NFL debuts.

Happy times may soon be back, Giants fans. Just don’t expect them on Sunday.

Washington17, Giants 6