New York Giants @ Washington Football Team (-3.5, 41)
September 16, 2021
8:20pm EST on NFL Network
Two longtime NFC East foes square off in week two of the 2021 NFL season. Washington fell to the Chargers by the score of 20-16, losing quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to an injured hip in the process. The Giants weren’t competitive in their 27-13 loss to the Broncos.
The game will be held at FedEx Field on Thursday, September 16 at 8:20 PM EST and televised on NBC. Washington enters as a 3-point favorite with an over/under of 41.
With Fitzpatrick out, Taylor Heinicke will get the start at quarterback for Washington. This leads to our first featured matchup, Heinicke versus Daniel Jones. Losing at home to the Chargers puts Washington in an early must-win situation to avoid an 0-2 start. Daniel Jones had his issues with a costly fumble deep in Denver territory, his 30th of his relatively young career. Jones needs to take care of the ball better for the Giants to have a shot in this game.
Heinicke was impressive in last year’s wild card loss to the Buccaneers, throwing for more than 350 yards and two touchdowns. Despite relative lack of game experience, the 28-year-old has been poised during his opportunities to play. The surprise advantage here goes to Washington until Jones can prove he can take care of the football.
For the Giants to have a shot in this one, the offensive line must go a job against Washington’s stellar pass rush. After giving up two sacks last week, the Giants need to improve this week. Although Chase Young was held in check by the Chargers, he’s the best pass rusher on Washington and will likely up his game against the divisional rivals. For the Giants, look for second-year offensive lineman Andrew Thomas to continue to develop. Overall, this is another advantage for Washington.
Washington’s biggest threat on offense is wide receiver Terry McLaurin. Although catching only four passes last week, McLaurin had a highlight reel grab and his play this week will be huge for Washington. He will be covered most of the night by James Bradberry, who got torched last week for a 144.9 passer rating against.
Overall, the Giant pass defense was one of their strong units last season, allowing only 22 touchdown passes. That same level of competency didn’t show up against Denver and needs to improve to avoid starting the season 0-2.
The matchup is important for both teams. The NFC East is still a relatively weak division, but losing two straight to start the season is a bad sign for things to come.
For the Redskins to win, they need to run the ball well to take a bit of heat off of Heinicke. If they succeed, he will have plenty of time to attack the Giants secondary that was suspect against the Broncos. Defensively, they need to contain Saquon Barkley, who struggled in his comeback against the Broncos. If Washington succeeds, they can force Jones into mistakes, as he has been prone to cough up the ball.
The Giants need to win the battle in the trenches, protect Jones, and get the run-game going. In addition, it is imperative the shore up the secondary to get back to one of the better pass defense teams.