New York Giants vs Washington Football Team | 5 Players to Watch
The 0-5 Giants are set to play what is arguably their most winnable game of the season on Sunday against the 1-4 Washington Football Team.
It's the first game of the season in which the Giants are favored, as they've opened as three-point favorites over their division rival, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
Still, the importance of this game and getting head coach Joe Judge his first win will amplify the pressure on the Giants' players, and a handful of players, in particular, will feel the brunt of that pressure on Sunday.
Offensive Tackle Andrew Thomas
It's been a baptism by fire for rookie offensive tackle Andrew Thomas, as he's quickly learned that playing left tackle in the NFL hurts, especially against the elite slate of veteran edge rushers he's faced this season.
Thomas will get a matchup against a player closer to his degree of experience on Sunday against Washington rookie defensive end Chase Young.
Young might be a rookie, but he's right up there with the other sack artists Thomas has faced this year from a talent perspective.
So far, Thomas has been disappointing in his rookie campaign, having allowed 28 total pressures and four sacks already this year, according to Pro Football Focus.
However, Thomas can still turn that narrative around and establish a sound foundation for success against a division rival with a strong showing against Young on Sunday, an opponent he is sure to endure many battles with for many years to come.
Outside Linebacker Markus Golden
After four games as a reserve edge rusher, Markus Golden is projected to make his first start of 2020 on Sunday.
One year after leading the Giants in sacks as a 16-game starter in 2019, Golden has seemingly been demoted in favor of younger players this year.
But with injuries to edge rushers Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines, the Giants are turning back to Golden to carry the load on the edge this week.
How Golden responds to finally being elevated back to a starter's role in his latest opportunity is sure to be a closely-watched storyline for the Giants in Week 6.
Golden is projected to line up predominantly on the left side and battle Washington's right to tackle Morgan Moses.
Golden racked up 1.5 sacks against Washington last year against Moses, and the two will exchange blows again on Sunday in a critical position battle between two teams looking to stay out of the NFC East cellar.
Tight End Evan Engram
Evan Engram broke his 2020 touchdown drought last Sunday in Dallas, but it ironically via the run, and Engram still hasn't hauled in a receiving touchdown yet this season.
Engram would have also had his first receiving touchdown a fake field-goal play had it not been nullified by an illegal shift penalty by offensive tackle Cameron Fleming.
Regardless, Engram will be desperately looking to bust out of his slump to start the season on Sunday against a Washington defense that has allowed an average of 1 touchdown and 68.2 receiving yards per game to opposing starting tight ends this year.
What makes Engram an incredibly exciting player to watch is that he is bound to match up against former Giants safety Landon Collins, who is in his second season in Washington and will be motivated to do his part in containing any Giant he lines up against on Sunday.
Engram will depend on the offense around him to click.
However, whether offensive coordinator Jason Garrett continues to use Engram in the running game as he did last week will also be something to watch this week.
Tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens stressed that one of the offense's main priorities is getting the ball in Engram's hands by any means necessary, and if the run is the best avenue for that, then maybe the Giants will stick with it against Washington.
Defensive Tackle Leonard Williams
Leonard Williams will look to build on his impressive start to the season in Week-5 as he is still looking for sack number three on the season.
According to Pro Football Focus, Williams has maintained consistent production as a defender over the first five games of the season, consistently racking up multiple tackles and quarterback pressures each week.
The last two weeks have seen a slight drop off in Williams' numbers from the first three weeks in which he racked up his two sacks, but Washington's offense might prove to be a favorable opponent for Williams to break out.
Williams, who has lined up predominantly on the right side of the Giants' defensive interior, projects to match up against rookie offensive lineman Saahdiq Charles.
Charles, drafted as an offensive tackle, will be making his first NFL start on Sunday at a position he's never played.
Williams is projected to be facing the combination of Charles and veteran center Chase Roullier, who praised Charles on Friday as the rookie transitions to a new position, as the two will look to contain Williams in their first game as a pair.
Williams will undoubtedly present a solid first challenge for Charles. He could prove to be opportunistic for Williams as he looks to boost his sack numbers and pursue a lucrative long-term contract.
Safety Jabrill Peppers
Jabrill Peppers made a quick return from his low ankle sprain last Sunday in Dallas, just two weeks removed from initially sustaining it against San Francisco.
Peppers was limited in his involvement against the Cowboys. Still, the Giants coaching staff has indicated that their objective is to ramp Peppers back up into his typical workload starting this week.
Peppers' plays and how the Giants deploy him will speak volumes to Peppers' resilience and toughness as a player. Still, it will also indicate just how cautious the Giants are with using players off of injury.
The Giants could be running the risk of re-injury to Peppers if they use him too much, especially if they allow him to return punts as he usually does.
Regardless of how healthy Peppers truly is, he is still one of the team's most important players, both as an anchor in the defense's backend and a captain on special teams. His effectiveness could go a long way in determining the outcome of the game.