It feels like we just did a ‘5 questions’ segment with SB Nation’s ‘Hogs Haven,’ because, well, we did. The New York Giants and Washington Commanders face off again this weekend, though, so here we go again. ‘KyleSmithforGM’ again steps up to answer our questions.
Ed: Do you feel the Commanders have an advantage in this game because of the unique schedule, facing New York twice in a row with a bye week in between while the Giants had to play the Eagles?
Kyle SmithforGM: I think Washington certainly should have an advantage, given two weeks to prepare, an extra week of rest to get unhealthy players back, and a Giants game against the Eagles that had some potential to be demoralizing. This is likely the biggest game of Ron Rivera’s tenure in DC. How the team responds on Sunday night will be a huge determining factor in his trajectory here. All of the external factors have lined up in Washington’s favor.
Ed: What’s the latest on Chase Young? Can he be expected to be a difference-maker if he does play?
Kyle SmithforGM: It’s sounding like he could play this week, though I expect that we may not know for sure until the weekend. In recent interviews he’s been described as focused and calm. That having been said, I don’t expect him to be highly disruptive out of the gate. Honestly, I don’t expect to see his true explosiveness return until next season.
The Giants are an interesting match-up for the defensive ends as well, with the maintenance of gap integrity being critical to containing Daniel Jones. That’s something Young and the other lineman struggled with last year. The guys playing now seem to have gotten it largely under control, but there’s some concern that it could potentially be an issue with Young when he returns, if he’s overly aggressive.
Ed: This comes up all the time in reference to the Giants, so I will ask it about the Commanders. Can the season be considered successful for Washington even if they lose to the Giants and fall short of making the playoffs?
Kyle SmithforGM: I think if Washington fails to make the playoffs, the season can’t be deemed a success. This is Rivera’s third year in, and apart from a playoff berth when the NFC East was atrocious in 2020, he will have come up empty. It would absolutely dictate drafting a first-round QB in 2023, and the team will have spoiled its draft position by going on a fruitless mid-season run. I think it would also set Rivera up for a firing once Washington’s new owner - hopefully - comes on board in early 2023.
Ed: Thinking back to Week 13, Giants players said the game felt like a loss. From this perspective, I thought it was a game the Giants should have won. How did Washington players take it? How did you take it?
Kyle SmithforGM: From what I’ve heard, Washington players took it the exact same way, as feeling like a loss. The game was strange. Early on it felt like it would be a Washington blow out. By the fourth quarter it felt like the Giants would surely win. By the end, I was content with a tie. The two teams play with fairly conservative offensive styles, and can ill afford to make any mistakes on offense if they want to win.
Ed: I hate asking this question, but I will anyway. The Commanders are favored by DraftKings Sportsbook. Who wins Sunday night? Why?
KyleSmithforGM: I think Washington wins because of the external factors I described above. They’ll have no excuse for not being better prepared than the Giants after the bye, and for two otherwise fairly evenly matched teams, that should end up being the difference.