The Giants have been playing like shrimps over the last six games, going 1-4-1, with their only win coming over the lowly Texans.
But the Giants’ competitors for NFC wild card berths — specifically the Seattle Seahawks — haven’t exactly been lighting the world on fire either. Except for one team: the Washington Commanders, who are on a 6-1-1 heater over their last eight.
Of course, that extra “1” at the end of the Commanders’ and Giants’ records comes courtesy of their Week 13 tie. Since then, the Commanders took a week off — and so did the Giants, getting pasted by the Eagles last week 48-22, and truly, despite the cliched nature of the following statement, the game was not as close as the score would indicate.
This Sunday, the two teams will meet again, this time in prime time on NBC, and to say this is an important game for the Giants would be seriously underselling the term “important.”
Daniel Jones has a chance to make a statement in the biggest game of his NFL career this weekend, and if you think that doesn't matter, you haven't followed recent Giants history. Column: https://t.co/wcyPsGwv8M
— Steve Politi (@StevePoliti) December 15, 2022
Right now, according to the calculations over at FiveThirtyEight, the Giants have a 52% chance of making the playoffs. A win over the Commanders would see the Giants’ chances soar to 91%. But a loss? It will knock them down to 35%. (For the Commanders, the game is almost equally important. They’re at 77% today, a win takes them to 91%, a loss down to 42%.) (Oh by the way: If they tie again, they both will lose a few percentage points on their chances.)
Giants playing the underdog role
As for the sportsbooks? They’re not expecting a tie. They’re not expecting the Giants to win either, as the G-Men have been installed as consensus 4.5-point underdogs in this road matchup, with DraftKings offering the best price at -105. The Giants are also +190 moneyline dogs at FanDuel.
While player props haven’t been released yet, it is worth wondering just how, exactly, the Giants are going to game plan for this matchup. Will Brian Daboll keep things the same as he has all year, namely feeding Saquon Barkley? If so, the Giants may be in for a long night. The Commanders’ DVOA against the rush (courtesy of FootballOutsiders) is ranked fourth in the NFL. Furthermore, Barkley ran for just 63 yards on 18 carries two weeks ago against the Commanders, and he hasn’t rushed for over 100 yards since the win over the Texans — who happen to rank last against the run.
Saquon Barkley says that yesterday was his best practice of the season
(and demonstrates some juke moves 😂) pic.twitter.com/qVCWwJ2U6l
— Giants Videos (@SNYGiants) December 15, 2022
The Commanders are a middling 14th against the pass by DVOA, so perhaps Daboll will choose this week to open up the playbook in an attempt to catch Washington’s defense off guard.
If you expect that to happen, perhaps the Giants’ first-half props are worth looking at. They are +170 first-half underdogs at FanDuel, and +160 first-quarter underdogs at bet365.
Whichever bets you decide to make, know this: The nation will be watching right along with the Giants faithful in the team’s biggest game of the season, and, truly, their biggest game since their wild card loss to the Packers in 2016 — the last time the Giants made the playoffs, and the last time they even had a whiff of a winning record.
Photo: Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY