Washington Football Team vs. New York Giants
Line: Washington -3.5
Where: FedEx Field
When: Thursday, 9/16 at 8:20 p.m. ET
TV: NFL Network
Washington’s hopes of winning the NFC East took a hit when veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was placed on the injured reserve following Sunday’s loss to the Chargers.
The Football Team signed Fitzpatrick during the offseason after a lack of offense doomed them in the 2020 playoffs. Taylor Heinicke will become the 10th different quarterback to start a regular-season game for Washington in the last five years when he faces the New York Giants tonight.
Oddsmakers opened Washington as a 4.5-point favorite, but the betting action has driven the line down to -3.5. The total has seen even more movement, dropping from an opener of 43.5 points to the current number of 40.5.
Heinicke has not started a regular-season game since 2018, but he did start in the playoffs last season when Alex Smith went down with an injury. Heinicke threw for 306 yards and a touchdown in the loss to eventual-champion Tampa Bay. He completed 11 of 15 attempts for 122 yards and a score when Fitzpatrick exited in Week 1.
The Football Team will rely on running back Antonio Gibson offensively. He rushed for 90 yards on 20 carries against the Chargers and added three receptions for 18 yards. Wide receiver Terry McLaurin caught four passes for a team-high 62 yards, while tight end Logan Thomas had three grabs for 30 yards and a touchdown.
They will be facing a New York defense that allowed 27 points to Denver in its opener. The Giants are now 0-1 for the fifth season in a row, as they forced just one punt until late in the game. Denver had six straight drives of 50-plus yards and went 3-for-3 on fourth down.
New York will enter this game with some confidence, though, as it has won all four of its meetings against Washington during quarterback Daniel Jones’ tenure. He is 4-19 against the rest of the league, so his 4-0 mark against the Football Team certainly stands out.
Jones rushed for 27 yards in the loss to Denver—the running backs combined to average 2.4 yards per carry on 14 attempts. New York only scored on one of its four red-zone trips in the loss, carrying over an issue that plagued them last season. The Giants had the second-worst red-zone percentage in the NFL during the 2020 campaign.
Jones completed 22 of 37 passes for 267 yards and a touchdown. Star running back Saquon Barkley was held to 26 yards on 10 carries. This will be his second game in four days after coming back from an ACL injury.
“I haven’t gotten tackled in a whole year or played in a football game in a whole year,” Barkley said. “There’s always going to be some soreness. Definitely a quick turnaround this week, but that’s why I’ve got to be a pro and get my body ready.”
Washington’s defense is expected to be one of the best in the NFL this season, but it allowed a 73.7% conversion rate on third down in Week 1. Reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year Chase Young headlines the front seven.
New York has now gone ‘under’ the total in each of its last eight games, while Washington has gone ‘under’ in six of its last seven contests. The ‘under’ has cashed in 13 of the last 19 head-to-head meetings between these teams.
Washington is 1-4 ATS in its last five home games against New York. The Giants have been very profitable on the road, covering at a 9-2 clip in their last 11 games away from home.
The pick: Under 40.5
While I don’t love taking the ‘under’ on the lowest total of any Week 2 game, I just can’t see this being a high-scoring tilt. Washington ran the fewest plays of any team last week, putting them in dead-last in pace of play rankings. Now, it will be starting its backup quarterback on Thursday. Heinicke has been serviceable enough, but there is a reason the front office signed Fitzpatrick during the offseason. Washington’s defense is motivated following its lackluster performance in Week 1. It will be facing an uninspiring New York offense that does not seem to have a healthy Barkley yet. The Giants were No. 24 in plays per game last week, so they will not be pushing the tempo either. It’s tough taking 40.5 when 43.5 was the opener, but that does not mean there is no value available at this number.