Anytime two NFC East teams get together on the gridiron, it makes for an exciting afternoon considering how familiar each team is with one another through their twice-annual meetings.
With that said, SI.com’s Conor Orr believes the Giants’ Week 2 Thursday night game against the Washington Football Team on the road is one of the league’s 15 most intriguing games on both the Giants' the NFL’s fall calendar.
Orr, who ranked that game as No. 7, notes:
This will be a great early test for Daniel Jones, who has a weapon set with a ton of equity poured into it. A game against Ron Rivera in prime time could be an immediate bellwether on Dave Gettleman’s decision to opt for a receiver overload in the first round instead of an offensive tackle. The Giants traded out of their No. 12 slot with Rashawn Slater of Northwestern on the board—a prospect who handled Chase Young quite ably during their time together in college. Barring any injuries to the Giants' receiving corps, this will be a very early indication as to whether or not Jones can handle an elite pass rush after a 2020 season when the team was blitzed more than all but two other teams in the NFL (and ranked 30th in the league against the blitz).
For years the Washington Football Team was viewed by many outsiders as the runt in the NFC litter. Still, to give credit where it’s due, Washington has gradually transformed itself into a formidable opponent thanks to the changes brought about by head coach Ron Rivera.
Washington’s defense, in particular, is probably one of the best-kept secrets in the NFL. The WFT finished with one of the top (and most underrated) defenses last year, a unit that allowed just 4.9 yards per offensive play, tying them with the Steelers for second place.
They also ranked in the top 5 in fewest passing touchdowns allowed (21, tied for 2nd place) and interceptions (16, tied for 5th place).
Those are not ideal stats for a Giants team whose offense had some struggles moving the ball and whose quarterback, Daniel Jones, had some turnover issues for part of last season.
But the good news is that the Giants have vastly improved their offense with the additions of receivers Kenny Golladay, John Ross, and Kadarius Toney and tight end Kyle Rudolph.
The team is also optimistic that as it enters Year 2 of the new offensive system implemented by offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, there will be less time thinking on each play, allowing for a more up-tempo style.
As far as the NFC East is concerned, some seem ready to hand the crown to the Dallas Cowboys, who are getting quarterback Dak Prescott back, but who also have a new defensive coordinator in Dan Quinn tasked with fixing a historically bad defense.
While expectations are that the Giants will be a lot better both performance and record-wise than their six-win season from last year, it’s too soon to say for sure if the giants are ready to join the postseason tournament.
But when it comes to that Week 2 meeting with Washington in which the strength of WFT will test the perceived weakness (offensive line) of the Giants, that game should undoubtedly give us a clearer picture of just how far the Giants still have to go.