East Rutherford, N.J. — The Washington Football Team will try and earn they second victory of the season when they travel to The Meadowlands on Sunday to face the winless New York Giants. The only thing sadder than two teams with a combined record of 1-9 facing off is that if Washington wins, they have a chance to regain a share of the NFC East lead with a 2-4 record if the Eagles (1-3-1) and the Cowboys (2-3) both lose. Winning seems easy enough against one of only three remaining winless NFL team (Jets, Falcons) but for a team as offensively challenged as Washington, nothing has come easy. That being said, nothing has come easy for anyone in the NFC East this season.
NFC East Standings Thru 5 Weeks
Dallas Cowboys 2-3
Philadelphia Eagles. 1-3-1
Washington Football Team 1-4
New York Giants 0-5
In Week 5, second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins was benched in favor of backup Kyle Allen. Allen completed 9 of 13 passes for 74 yards and rushed for a touchdown before he injured his arm on a scramble, leading to Alex Smith to finally make his return to the gridiron for the first time since suffering a compound tibial fracture on November 18, 2018. Despite not returning to the 30-10 loss to Los Angeles, Allen is expected to once again start under center against the Giants after he reportedly was cleared by team doctors. As for Washington’s former starter, Haskins (illness) was not on the sidelines last week because of an unspecified illness, and he did not practice Wednesday or Thursday as Washington prepared for the Giants. However, Haskins returned to practice with Washington on Friday. According to Washington head coach Ron Rivera, “[Haskins] looked good. He did the things he was supposed to do. It was good to see him out there. A bunch of his teammates came over and dapped him up to let him know they were glad to have him back. That’s what I was hoping for.”
The illness causing Haskins missed Week 5 and multiple practices for is being labeled a “gastrointestinal issue” and was not COVID-19 related. Earlier in the week Rivera had relayed Haskins’ situation stating “We’re not keeping him out of the building, just so everybody knows. What we’ve done is, he’s come in, he’s seen the doctors, he’s taken his test and he’s gone home.” It sounds like Washington was exercising an abundance of caution with Haskin’s illness, as any team should during this pandemic. Regardless of any illness, the young signal caller’s situation should continue to be monitored in the coming weeks as the NFL trade deadline approaches with all of the trade rumors swirling since Rivera benched him in favor of Allen.
Given all of the issues at the quarterback position, it should come as no surprise that Washington ranks dead last (32nd) in the NFL in total offense at a paltry 263 yards/game and 30th in points at 17.8 points/game. They also rank 30th in passing offense (181.6 yds) and 31st in rushing offense (81.4 yds). Numbers like those have made Washington’s Week 1 victory seem like a mirage, but luckily for the Football Team, the Giants are just as bad, if not worse, on offense.
New York ranks 30th in the league in total offense at 282.4 yards/game, just a tick ahead of Washington. The Giants rank last in rushing yards per game at 79.0 and 31st in points per game, at 15.2 per outing. They even have their own quarterbacking issues with THEIR second year QB Daniel Jones, who has started all 5 games in 2020, but has the 2nd lowest QB rating at 70.6; for reference, a perfect rating is 158.3, and Seattle’s Russell Wilson leads the NFL at 129.8. The lone quarterback with a worst rating this season is Philly’s Carson Wentz, the only QB Washington has beaten this season. Jones is tied for 32nd among NFL quarterbacks with just two TD passes. In the loss to Dallas, he did not throw a TD pass and lost a fumble. Jones, despite playing in only 18 games, has committed multiple turnovers in 10 contests, the most in the NFL since he entered the league.
The difference between the two teams lies in how they have been losing games. While Washington has lost 4 straight by an average of 15.75 points, New York has lost by single digits in 3 of their 5 losses, including a 3-point 37-34 loss last week against Dallas. Something has to give for one of these teams as Washington is 0-2 on the road and the Giants are 0-2 at home so far this season.
Line: NYG (-3)
Kickoff is set for 1pm at MetLife Stadium in front of a crowd of zero, the 5th time in 6 games that Washington has played in front of nobody, with Cleveland being their sole game in front of a live crowd. That could change in the near future as Maryland governor Larry Hogan announced venues in the state can allow patrons at 10% capacity meaning Washington and Baltimore could allow live fans for the first time this season as soon as their next home games. For Baltimore that is not until November 1 against Pittsburgh but Washington’s next home game is October 25 against the Dallas Cowboys. FedEx Field has a seating capacity of 82,000 meaning they could potentially allow as many as 8,200 fans to that division battle with seemingly huge implications in this year’s NFC East standings. That being said, Washington had previously committed to having no live attendance at FedEx Field in 2020.