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Why the Giants Will Beat Washington, Why They Won't, and a Prediction

The Giants face a "must win" game against the Washington Commanders that they must secure to keep their playoff hopes alive.

There's no such thing as a game that's not a "must-win." But let's face it; there are some games where if they don't work out in one's favor, no harm done.

Then there are others which, if they don't fall the way one expects, do create harm, and the New York Giants (7-4) are about to play one such game this weekend against the Washington Commanders (7-5), winners of six of their last seven games.

At this point in the season, all the games become "must-win" propositions simply because playoff berths are at stake. And for the Giants, if they should lose this one to Washington while Seattle wins its game, New York, who currently holds the sixth playoff seed, would tumble out of the postseason picture.

That's not all. According to Tankathon, the Giants have the hardest remaining strength of schedule, with two still to come against the Eagles, another against Washington, and one against the Vikings and Colts. All of those teams combine for a .688 winning percentage.

It's been said that anything can happen on any given Sunday. Well, for the Giants, if they want to help their cause and continue their surprising season, this week would be as good as any to snap out of what's been a four-week-old funk.

Let's look at the different sides.

Why the Giants Will Win

The Giants' formula for winning has been pretty clear all season long. Put the ball in Saquon Barkley's hands and let the defense take care of the rest.

Unfortunately, injuries have put the Giants at something of a disadvantage. In the run game, the absences of offensive tackle Evan Neal and tight end Daniel Bellinger have been felt -- the Giants' rushing game averaged 173.4 yards per game with those two in the lineup and 112 yards per game without them.

The good news is the Giants are getting both back this week, which should hopefully open up more room for the running game. And if the Giants can get Barkley going again to where they're dominating the time of possession (something they haven't done during their mini-skid), they can give themselves a decent chance of staying in this one, if not winning.

Also worth noting is the Giants are getting outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari and defensive back Tony Jefferson from the injured reserve list. Ojulari's presence and fresh legs should help the pass rush up front where if they can get to quarterback Taylor Heinicke, who is 26 of 61 (42.6 percent) with one touchdown and three interceptions when under pressure.

Why the Giants Will Lose

Simply put, if the Commanders, who already have a very good run defense, replicate what Seattle, Detroit, and Dallas have done against the Giants' running game, it's going to make for an uphill battle for an offense that might not have Darius Slayton (illness) and Richie James (knee) at full strength.

This would probably be the week to expect to see Daniel Jones facing more designed run opportunities. Over the last four weeks, he's averaged 5.25 carries, most of which have been scrambles.

That average is down from the 8.28 rushing attempts he had in the first seven games. Getting Jones, who, by the way, isn't wearing the knee brace he was wearing earlier in the year, more involved in the running game gives the Commanders an extra person to accommodate for and can only be an advantage for the Giants if things should stall with Barkley.

Speaking of the run, if the Giants run defense, which has struggled all season long to bottle up opponents, can't set things up to where they're forcing Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke to beat them with his arm, that could also make for a long afternoon for the Giants.


Giants 23, Commanders 20. The Giants wins have mainly been close calls, and I don't anticipate this week's game being any different. I think the return to health by several key personnel--Daniel Bellinger, Evan Neal, and Azeez Ojulari--will be a big help. Having Nick Gates along the offensive line interior will be a big help to the run game, which I believe will finally get back on track this weekend.

The Giants need to win this one--they don't want to go to Washington in two weeks to face a rested Commanders team that will have had two weeks to prepare for that game. If the Giants don't win this one, it will be hard for them to slip into the playoffs. 

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