The last time the Giants and Washington met for a regular-season game, things were a lot different.
When that meeting took place in Week 8, the Giants were reeling while their NFC East foes were soaring.
But since that 20-13 loss by the Giants, a lot has changed. Washington has been rocked by injuries, including having lost two starting quarterbacks—Alex Smith and Colt McCoy—to broken legs; and offensive linemen Brandon Scherff, Arie Kouandijo and Shawn Lauvao and receiver Paul Richardson to season-ending injuries as well.
Washington has also lost four out of their last five games played since, with three of those four losses being by at least two scores.
The Giants, on the other hand, have won three out of four games since that meeting, narrowly missing a fourth win. While the Giants have had some injuries here and there, they haven’t been bitten as hard as their NFC East division foes.
Given all that, Washington should be a different team, a team that, because it’s had to push new faces into the lineup at different positions to compensate for injuries, be easier to beat this time around, right?
Eh, not so fast, especially on offense where former Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez is expected to get the start Sunday.
“They have elements of what they do, run the ball, play action,” said Giants head coach Pat Shurmur. “They’ll make decisions how they’re going to move forward with the players that they have in there.”
Shurmur is somewhat familiar with what Sanchez is capable of doing, having coached him when the two were with the Eagles. And then there is the presence of Washington running back Adrian Peterson, who even at age 33 is still very capable of giving the team a spark.
“I was with Mark Sanchez for more than a year, so he’s very capable of leading a team to victory,” Shurmur said.
“They’re going to try to do what Mark can do best and try to play to the strengths of their team. I know they’ve got probably a soon-to-be Hall of Fame running back, so you can just connect the dots and see what they’ll probably do on offense to compensate for some of the injuries they have.”
Washington’s injuries haven’t hit their defense as hard, but they also haven’t been exempt from the epidemic. Despite the injury list on defense, Giants quarterback Eli Manning said that Washington’s defense is still the same one New York saw in their first meeting.
“They’re still good on defense,” Manning said. “They do a good job of getting a pass rush. Their front five are really strong. So, we got to handle that. We got to run the ball, and protect, and make sure we can get the ball out on time.”
One thing the Giants are hoping to exploit is the Washington run defense which in its last five games has allowed opponents an average of 134.4 rushing yards per game after allowing just 80.1 rushing yards per game in their first seven games.
Manning wasn’t too impressed with the numbers, stating that the Giants simply need to take what the defense gives them and stick to their game plan.
“Just try to get some good looks, and we’ll see how they play – whether they’ll want to get the safeties in the box or play a little bit more two-high (coverage), and kind of protect their secondary,” he said when asked how the Giants might be able to exploit Washington’s banged up defense.
“We just got to have a good mix of the run, the play-action. Just get completions, move the ball, and stay out of third and long.”