Washington Commanders vs. New York Giants
Line: Washington -4.5
Where: FedEx Field, Landover, Maryland
When: Sunday, 12/18 at 8:20 p.m. ET
Washington and New York will meet for the second time in three weeks when the NFC East rivals square off on Sunday night in primetime.
The Commanders and Giants are both sitting at 7-5-1 after playing to a 20-20 tie two weeks ago, giving the winner of this game a chance to take over the driver’s seat for an NFC Wild Card spot. DraftKings has Washington listed at -250 to make the playoffs, while New York is priced at -120.
Some sportsbooks opened Washington as a 4-point favorite in this game, but that line has been bet up to -4.5 as of Saturday afternoon. The total has seen some slight movement, shifting from 40 to 40.5 after a week of betting action.
Washington’s worst performance since early November came in its game at New York two weeks ago, as quarterback Taylor Heinicke was sacked five times and posted his worst QBR of the season. He has gone 5-1-1 since taking over as the starter though, and he has had extra time to prepare for this game with the bye week.
“The bye week was good for us, and all of us are ready to take the field Sunday night,” Washington tight end Logan Thomas said.
Running back Brian Robinson Jr. has averaged nearly four yards per carry since returning from injury, racking up 96 yards on 21 carries against the Giants in the first meeting. The Commanders lead the NFL in time of possession coming into the week, as their rushing attack and short passes have resulted in lengthy drives.
Star defensive end Chase Young is expected to play for the first time this season after missing the last 13 months due to a torn ACL in his right knee. Cornerback Benjamin St-Juste is listed as ‘questionable’ to play because of an ankle injury.
Washington enters this game ranked No. 21 offensively, averaging 331.5 yards per game. Its defense has been spectacular, ranked fourth in the league in yards allowed per game (310.5).
The Giants are two spots back of the Commanders offensively after getting blitzed by Philadelphia in a 48-22 final last week. They rank sixth in rushing yards and No. 28 in passing yards—star running back Saquon Barkley had 18 carries for 63 yards against Washington two weeks ago, while quarterback Daniel Jones had 12 attempts for 71 yards.
Barkley has gained 152 total yards in his last four games, averaging just 2.8 yards per carry. He had three 100-plus-yard rushing games and none with fewer than 70 during the team’s 6-1 start to the season.
Washington has won its first two games played at night this season and is 5-2 in primetime games under head coach Ron Rivera. New York has lost 11 straight games under the lights, but it has covered the spread in seven of its last 10 games this season. The Giants have also covered in six of the last eight head-to-head meetings between these teams.
The Commanders have been profitable this season as well, going 6-1-1 ATS in their last eight games. They have gone ‘under’ the total in eight of their last 11 contests, and they have cashed the ‘under’ in nine of their last 11 home games.
“They’re waiting on us just as much as we’re waiting on them,” New York linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux said. “I feel like because we just played them and they haven’t seen anybody yet, all they’ve been doing is licking their chops.”
The pick: Washington -4.5
Thibodeaux is exactly right. While New York was getting beat up by Philadelphia last week, losing for the fourth time in six games, Washington was sitting at home resting and preparing for this crucial showdown. The Commanders are going to get a boost defensively with Young’s return, which makes their defense that much tougher. This is not a good time for Barkley to solve his recent struggles, so I do not have high hopes for New York’s offense on Sunday night. Washington will continue to do what it has been doing, using lengthy drives to control the time of possession and wear the Giants down. The Commanders were 2.5-point road favorites two weeks ago, and this scheduling spot warrants more of an adjustment than the one that has been made.