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Since late in 2018, the New York Giants are 0-11 in prime time games: 0-5 on Monday Night Football, 0-4 on Thursday nights, and 0-2 on Sunday nights.
“That’s a crazy stat. Dang,” said Saquon Barkley, who is well overdue for a massive rushing game and may need one tonight to save the Giants’ collective conscience. He has rushed for a total of just 152 yards in the past four games after rushing for 152 against the Houston Texans in Week 10, and the ground game should be key key tonight. That’s as two teams that played to a 20-20 tie two weeks ago renew their rivalry in Landover, Md.
The Commanders had a 41:11-28:49 edge in time of possession in that game, as Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibsn helped the Commanders pile up 165 rushing yards, 106 after halftime. The game ended with Graham Gano coming up 5 yards short on a 58-yard field goal as time expired in overtime.
New York is 0-3-1 over the past month, and what looked like a promising run that could get them deep into the playoffs has halted. They are coming off a demoralizing 48-22 loss to the league-leading Philadelphia Eagles, and are playing tonight (8:20 p.m. EST) for a solid hold on sixth place in the NFC, as both teams enter with 7-5-1 records.
Washington is favored by 4 1/2, and 76% of the handle is coming in on New York. Those are desperation bets by New Yorkers hoping Big Blue can reverse its fortunes at the same stadium where last season fell apart in Week 2. That was the night Dexter Lawrence jumped offsides on a field goal attempt that missed, giving Dustin Hopkins a second chance at a game-ending field goal that he nailed on the second attempt.
Key mistakes from the Giants vs. WFT:
Darius Slayton drops wide-open TD, New York settles for FG
C.J. Board holding negates Daniel Jones TD, New York settle for FG
Dexter Lawrence jumps offsides during game-winning FG attempt, Washington makes it on second try pic.twitter.com/iquy0BSOb1
— The Athletic NFL (@TheAthleticNFL) September 17, 2021
That game was such an unmitigated disaster, many casual Giants fans tuned out for the remainder of what turned out to be a 4-13 season in which there was never any hope.
Huge Playoff Impact for the Victor
But hope is what keeps fans interested, and there will be a renewal of hope for the winner of tonight’s game. That’s because it will give them a manageable edge over the eighth place Seattle Seahawks, who lost 21-13 Thursday night against San Francisco to drop to 7-7 and fall out of contention to win the NFC West.
New York closes with games at Minnesota next Saturday, home against snakebitten Indianapolis on New Year’s Day, and at Philadelphia on Jan. 8. In that game, the Eagles may be resting their best players if they have already clinched the NFC’s best regular-season record.
So tonight is crucial for both teams, and Washington comes in with much more momentum, having won six of seven before the tie against the Giants, which was followed by a bye week.
How big is the Giants-Commanders game?
Washington has a 77% chance to make the playoffs (@FiveThirtyEight). The Giants are at 52%
If Washington wins, they jump to 93%. The Giants fall to 35%
If the Giants win, they jump to 90%. Washington falls to 41%https://t.co/j4vzz5zuUF pic.twitter.com/P3LsGF1CQ8
— Ralph Vacchiano (@RalphVacchiano) December 17, 2022
Could This Game Produce Crazy?
For those who believe the impossible is possible and history repeats itself too easily, the line on this game ending in another tie is +5000 at BetMGM. We will not channel Pythagoras and tell you what that will do for playoff implications, because there have only been two ties in the NFL all season. No team has finished with two ties in a single season since overtime was introduced in 1974. Since then, there have been 29 tied games.
But after watching the Vikings come back from a 33-0 deficit to win Saturday in the biggest comeback in NFL history, and after watching a truly epic Argentina-France finale of the World Cup, we are not sure what to expect.
“I understand the magnitude of the game and understand it is a big game,” Barkley said.
Biggest of his career? “I wouldn’t say that,” he said.
But with the size of a new contract on the line, Barkley has a lot more riding on this matchup that practically any gambler out there. Even the mattress guy in Houston can understand that cashing in to the tune of $75 million can all come down to one game. And in this case, Barkley may want a repeat of his stats from a victory in Washington almost three years ago, when he ran for a career-high 189 yards in a 41-35 overtime victory.
Barkley’s rushing yardage over/under has been set at 63 1/2 yards, and DraftKings has a lines of +310 for Barkley to go over 100 yards and +650 for Barkley to go over 125.
But he is going up against a Washington defensive line that held him to 63 yards on 18 carries two weeks ago and has the fourth-best defensive ranking leaguewide. They allow an average of only 110.4 rushing yards per game. Teammates Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen are going up against a patchwork Giants offensive line that has been dealing with injuries and changing rotations all season.
Payne had two sacks, two tackles for losses and two quarterback hits, and Allen had eight tackles, one sack and one forced fumble when the teams met two weeks ago. The over/under line for both Payne and Allen is 0.75 sacks, with Oayne at +120 and Allen at +135. Payne has had at lest one sack in seven games; Allen in six.
DT Daron Payne.
Disruptive on the tape vs. NYG. Two more sacks (up to 8.5 on the year).
Will be one of the top free agent DTs this off-season. pic.twitter.com/Lnb4rB42CY
— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) December 7, 2022
Assuming Daniel Jones needs to scramble and/or run for his life, we may see a repeat of two weeks ago, when he was credited with 12 carries for 71 yards. His rushing yardage over/under is 28 1/2, and DraftKings has him listed at +190 for 50 or more rushing yards, +550 for 75 or more rushing yards and +1000 for have at least 100. This is a step-up game for Jones, because it is a Sunday night national showcase in which he will either succeed or fail in changing this team’s recent fortunes. Games like these build reputations for fourth-year QBs who have never been to the postseason.
Jones was 25-for-31 passing two weeks ago, but could not produce points, and that will need to change either via his arm or his legs. Darius Slayton was his favorite target two weeks ago, and Slayton’s alternate receiving yardage over/unders of +295 for 75 or more yards and +650 for 100 or more yards must be given serious consideration.
— PFF (@PFF) December 16, 2022
To Which Team Does a Win Matter Most?
The Giants have not been to the postseason since 2016 and have not won a playoff game since 2011 when they went on to win the Super Bowl.
Eleven years is a long time, but …
The Commanders were known as the Redskins the last time they played a postseason game in 2020, when they lost in the wild card round for a fourth consecutive time. Their last playoff victory came in January, 2006, in a wild card game, and they have not a postseason game other a wild card since their 1991 run to the Super Bowl.
So to say that each team’s fan base is starved would actually be unfair to the folks in D.C.
Il you are a Washington fan who was 21 on Jan. 26, 1992 when Mark Rypien was quarterbacking the team to a championship, you are now 51 years old. If you are a Washington fan who is 37 or younger, you have no memory whatsoever of a postseason win. Rypien is now 60 years old.
So if you want to bet this one on whose fans want the win more, you have to go with Washington.
But that being the case, it is a high-level validation game for two teams, and the Commanders have been playing much better than the Giants lately. If Brian Daboll is going to excite his fan base again, he desperately needs a win. He takes a typical one game at a time approach, but let’s face it: The Giants are fading, and Daboll has not been as creative or daring as he was over the first six weeks of the season.
Let’s hope it is primetime worthy, because this has been a fantastic sports weekend that deserves a potent nightcap. Good luck! Don’t be laissez-faire like Daboll. He may be bluffing.
Brian Daboll’s message to the Giants entering Sunday night’s must-win game against the Washington Commanders oddly was, in part, that it isn’t a must-win game @PLeonardNYDN https://t.co/KVXyiUSgXr
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) December 18, 2022
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