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Giants-Commanders Week 11 storylines: Massive point spread, draft impact, more

Let’s talk about what to pay attention to this week

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New York Giants v Buffalo Bills
Will Kayvon Thibodeaux play this week?
Photo by Bryan Bennett/Getty Images

The New York Giants travel to face the Washington Commanders on Sunday. Let’s check some of the storylines.

The Commander cure?

The Giants don’t always beat Washington. They always, though, seem to have a chance. The Giants are 7-2-1 in their last team games against the team now known as the Commanders, including a 14-7 Week 6 victory.

Oddsmakers are showing a stunning lack of faith in the Giants this week. Being an underdog on the road against the 4-6 Commanders isn’t a big surprise, but I’m still coming to grips with an opening 10-point spread.

Injuries ... because, of course

The Giants are an injured mess. Daniel Jones, Tyrod Taylor, Darren Waller are all on IR. Adoree’ Jackson (concussion/neck) and Evan Neal (ankle) were out last Sunday vs. the Dallas Cowboys. In that game, wide receiver Jalin Hyatt and edge defender Kayvon Thibodeaux suffered concussions, Deonte Banks injured an ankle and Cor’Dale Flott injured a shoulder.

Will any of the non-IR injured Giants be back for Sunday’s game? We will get some indication from Wednesday’s practice report.

Where’s the defense?

The Giants had a stretch from Weeks 6-8 where they allowed a total of 34 points to the Bills, Commanders and Jets. Was that three-game stretch a sign of progress, or was it more about the offensive shortcomings of the team’s they were playing?

Over the past two weeks, the Giants have given up 79 points (39.5 per game) to the Las Vegas Raiders and Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys ran up 640 yards of total offense. The Giants not only do not have a sack over those two games, they have a measly five quarterback hits. The lack of pressure is exposing an inexperienced, injured secondary.

Yes, Leonard Williams is now a member of the Seattle Seahawks. That, though, isn’t all of it. The Giants don’t have enough pass rushers, and with one of the good ones they do have — Kayvon Thibodeaux — in concussion protocol that situation might get worse.

I don’t know how the Giants are going to summon a better defensive effort. Figuring that out is Wink Martindale’s job. If he can’t rise to the challenge, the Giants can’t be competitive at all over the final seven games. Not with the woeful state of their offense.

Speaking of that offense

The situation is best summed by the reality that Tommy DeVito leads the Giants with 3 touchdown passes. THREE! Entering Week 11.

The Giants are last in the league in points with 118, an average of 11.8 per game. The offensively-challenged New England Patriots have 141 and the Zach Wilson-led New York Jets have 144.

Can the Giants figure out how to block somebody? Anybody? At least occasionally? Can they figure out how to get a ball to a wide receiver before they trail by 40 points? Can they figure out a way not to get Saquon Barkley killed before the season ends?

Washington traded away edge defenders Chase Young and Montez Sweat at the deadline. You have to think there might be some chance for the Giants to make at least a few plays. Can they?

DeVito will be making his second start. He threw a pair of touchdown passes against Dallas, but threw for just 86 yards in a game where he really didn’t have much of a chance. Can he show against Washington that he has a future in the league by at least competently running the Giants’ offense?

Draft position

Coach Brian Daboll and the Giants players still want to win games, as they should. Jobs and livelihoods are on the line, so they will do everything they can to win a few games before season’s end.

Still, we know many Giants fans care more about what spot the Giants get in the 2024 NFL Draft, and would thus prefer losing.

The Giants currently have the No. 2 overall pick, with the Chicago Bears at No. 1 courtesy of last season’s trade with the Carolina Panthers.

The Athletic is currently projecting that the Giants end up with the No. 1 overall pick.

We will see how that pans out. This week’s game against the Commanders is one of five games remaining on the schedule (forget the games against the Eagles) which the Giants have at least some chance of winning.