The New York Giants are 2-8. The Washington Redskins are 4-6. Neither team appears to be going anywhere this season. Both have injury lists too long for even 280-character Twitter. Still, it is Thanksgiving night football and we know you are likely to be tuned in.
Here are some of the things you should be watching for.
The quest for 30
Could this be the week the Giants finally reach the 30-point barrier? They have never done that in 27 games with Ben McAdoo as head coach. Washington, though, has surrendered 30 or more points in four of its last five games.
The Redskins are 31st in the league in points allowed, and with Washington beat up and scrambling to simply fill its roster for Thursday night, this might be the Giants’ chance.
The Giants have improved running the ball, protected Eli Manning better and shown some signs of being able to make plays with a depleted receiving corps. Can they do enough things well to crack that 30-point mark?
Two in a row?
Washington has lost four of five games. The Redskins have a monstrous injury list, even after having placed four players on IR this week. They are reeling a bit after blowing a 15-point lead in the final three minutes Sunday in a loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Can the Giants take advantage?
“Any time you have a chance to get two wins in five days, it’s exciting. We have a tough opponent. We have to go on the road, travel on a short week,” coach Ben McAdoo said. “We feel we’re making all the right decisions from a scheduling standpoint, from a load standpoint with their legs. It’s going to be a big mental week for us and look forward to an inspired effort on Thursday night.”
Another offensive line combo
Jon Halapio is expected to start at right guard Thursday in place of the injured D.J. Fluker. That will make the eighth starting offensive line combination the Giants will have used in 11 games. It will also make Chad Wheeler and his one NFL start the most experienced player on the right side of the line Thursday night. Scary!
“It’s not a big deal,” center Brett Jones said. “It gives other guys an opportunity. It’s definitely very exciting for whoever is going to go in there. It is what it is. We’ve had it all year.”
It really is, though, considering how important Fluker has been in recent weeks and the inexperience the Giants will be dealing with on that right side.
Who are these Redskins?
The Redskins placed four players on injured reserve this week and still had 18 players on their Tuesday injury report. Even Washington coach Jay Gruden might need a scorecard Thursday to figure out who is on the field for his team. Kirk Cousins will be the quarterback. After that, it’s going to be tough to figure out who the guys wearing Redskins’ jerseys are.
Will the defense rest?
The Giants played their best defensive game of the season Sunday in a 12-9 overtime victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. That came on the heels of giving up a combined 82 points in the two previous games, and some players having their effort questioned.
The game was eerily reminiscent of last season, when a dominant defense picked up a struggling offense and helped the Giants reach the playoffs with an 11-5 record. Was it an aberration for the 2017 season, or a return to form that will hold?
Giants’ left tackle Ereck Flowers has not given up a sack since Week 2 when Ezekiel Ansah of the Detroit Lions torched him for three sacks of Eli Manning. Per Pro Football Focus, that is 318 pass-blocking snaps in a row — second-longest streak in the league.
Here are a couple of examples of good work from the third-year left tackle on Sunday vs. the Chiefs:
“Like I’ve always said, he’s a young player that works hard at getting better at his craft each and every day,” McAdoo said. “He’s improved in meetings. He’s improved on the field, improved on the practice field. He has his ups and downs just like the other players do, but he’s getting better.”
Flowers will have a challenge this week as he could often find himself one-on-one with either Ryan Kerrigan (7 sacks) or Preston Smith (4.5 sacks).