Thursday Night Football:
New York Giants at Washington Football Team
Spread: Washington (-3.5)
After hitting the Cowboys-Bucs over last week, we are back breaking down another prime time Thursday Night Football spotlight. We've got an NFC East division matchup against the Washington Football team and the New York Giants. It feels like the NFC East is always decided on Thursday Night Football.
The Washington Football team is the only team in the division Daniel Jones is unbeaten against. The third-year quarterback has the Football team’s number. Washington will be playing without their starter, Ryan Fitzpatrick. Instead, playoff folk-hero
The Heinicke effect:
Taylor Heinicke will get his third career start. The spread went down a mere half point with Heinicke in the starting role. Last week, in relief of Fitzpatrick, Heinicke completed 11-15 passes for 122 yards and a touchdown]. I was actually at the stadium in Washington last Sunday watching Ron Rivera's club take on Chargers, and believe it or not, the energy level of the stadium jumped through the roof when Heinke entered the game. I don’t think the former Old Dominion star imagined having his name chanted throughout a 60,000 seat NFL stadium.
It’s fair to note Heinicke had a better passer rating against the Bucs defense last postseason, than any other quarterback Tampa Bay faced. Incredibly, he put up better efficiency numbers than three Hall of Famers- Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Patrick Mahomes. We don’t have much sample size around Heinicke, but the kid is a gamer. I don’t downgrade the Football Team’s offense with him under center.
Everything else you need to know
The key matchup to watch will be Washington's vaunted defensive line against the Giants' pass protection. The Washington front ranks second in the PFF positional rankings, the Football Team ranked second in overall pressures and ranked seventh in adjusted sack rate last season. However, they had only six pressures against the Chargers last week. But that was masked due to a breakout performance from Rashawn Slater and the Chargers implemented a lot of max protection and quick passes to neutralize the rush. The Giants don’t have tackles as talented as Slater or Bryan Bulaga. None of the starting Giants offensive linemen received a passing grade on PFF last week. They were a bottom 25 unit heading into this season.
Because of it, this is a recipe for disaster for Daniel Jones and the Giants offense. Saquon Barkley did not look healthy in his first game of action and he is listed on the injury report as questionable. Without Barkley in pass protection, as an outlet receiver, or the centrer piece of the ground game- I don’t see how the Giants move the football. The Giants upgraded at the skill positions, but you can’t use those weapons if you are unable to block upfront.
This feels like a must-win for both teams, but with a road trip to Buffalo looming for Washington, they absolutely need this one at home. I get the better coached team, the better front, and an exciting new quarterback. Let the Heinicke magic ride us to an early week victory.
The pick: Washington -3.5
For all his picks, make sure to follow Austin on Twitter, @AMontgomeryLive