New York Giants @ Washington Football Team: Both looking for first win of the season

This week's edition of Thursday Night Football will see the New York Giants play the Washington Football Team, with both outfits looking to bounce back from opening day defeats.

It'll be the 178th time these two storied franchises have played together when they clash at FedExField on Thursday night. The first time they met was way back in 1932.

For all of you looking to place a bet, Planet Sport will have you covered throughout the season to help steer you in the right direction when it comes to taking a punt on the big matches.

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When: September 17, 2021 - 01:20am (BST)

Where: FedExField, Landover

How to watch: NFL Game Pass/Sky Sports NFL

Best bets

Washington Football Team to win - 4/7

Washington Football Team Over 24.5 - 6/4

New York Giants Over 23.5 - 2/1

Total points Under 37.5 - 11/8

New York Giants vs Washington background

The two sides play in the NFC East Division and have one of the longest-running rivalries in the NFL. In their 177 clashes, it's the Giants who currently have bragging rights, winning 105 of the encounters.

Washington enter the new campaign as reigning NFC East champions after finishing the season 7-9 in the statistically worst division in football.

Both teams lost on the opening day of the season and the Giants will be looking to avoid going 0-2 for the eighth time in nine seasons. 

Washington's quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, started on Sunday for his ninth NFL side but suffered a hip sublexation meaning back-up Taylor Heinicke will start in his place against the Giants.

Quarterback matchup: Jones vs Heinicke

Thursday Night Football sees a matchup of two quarterbacks in very different stages of their careers. Daniel Jones has the starting role in New York whereas Heinicke is Washington's stand-in after Fitzpatrick's injury.

Jones is entering his third season as quarterback of the Giants. He was drafted in 2019 and initially played second fiddle to two-time Super Bowl winner Eli Manning. 

However, three games into the season, Jones was named as a starter and threw for 336 yards and two touchdowns in a comeback win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Jones' first game of the 2021 season did not go according to plan. He threw for 267 yards and one touchdown but fumbled the ball in the third quarter of the game. The turnover turned out to be costly as the Denver Broncos scored a field goal on the following position. 

It isn't the first time that Jones has turned the ball over - in 28 starts he has lost possession over 40 times. If the Giants are to have better success, Jones will need to do a better job of protecting the ball.

Heinicke went undrafted in the 2015 NFL Draft coming out of Old Dominion. He joined Washington in 2020 initially on the practice squad before being promoted to the active roster in December. 

The 28-year-old started the team's Wild Card playoff game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after Alex Smith was ruled out due to injury, and threw for 306 yards, a touchdown, and an interception in a 31-23 loss to the eventual Super Bowl champions.

In 2021, Heinicke signed a two-year contract extension worth $8.75million and was named the back-up quarterback, but after Fitzpatrick's injury, he'll be trusted to start not only against the Giants but also for the foreseeable future.

Thursday will be Heinicke's 10th regular season game as a quarterback in the NFL and he has a chance to have a run in the team as a starter following the news that Fitzpatrick will be out for four to six weeks.

Heinicke has shown previously that he has the talent and arm strength to lead Washington to victory but now is the time to prove it.

Key men

Saquon Barkley (New York Giants)

Barkley was taken as the number two overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. In his first two seasons in the NFL, he rushed for 2,310 yards and was one of the elite running backs in the league. 

Barkley has speed, agility and despite being 231lb is known for hurdling defenders and being almost impossible to tackle. However, he is also injury-prone - Barkley tore his ACL in his right knee and missed the entirety of last season as a result.

He also suffered a knee injury midway through the Giants' opening game defeat to the Broncos and is listed as questionable for Thursday night. 

There is a chance the Giants will be cautious due to his injury last season but if he plays he will be the security blanket for Jones and could provide the game-changing ability the Giants were lacking against Denver.

Logan Ryan (New York Giants)

On the defensive side of the ball for the Giants, Logan Ryan is one of their stars. Ryan was drafted into the league by the New England Patriots in 2013. During his time there, he won two Super Bowls.

In 2020, the Giants signed the cornerback to a one-year deal worth $7.5million, after which he started 15 games. Before the 2021 season, Ryan signed a hefty $31million contract extension.

In his first game after signing this mega deal, Ryan played a crucial role in defense against Denver. He made eight solo tackles (tied for most in the league) and had one forced fumble.

Having been in the league for eight seasons, Ryan has the potential to be one of the best cornerbacks in the league and will be needed to help the Giants slow down Washington receiver Terry McLaurin on Thursday night.

Terry McLaurin (Washington Football Team)

Possibly one of the NFL's most underrated recievers, McLaurin is entering his third season in the league after having his first 1,000-yard receiving season in 2020. He has over 2,000 yards in the NFL and has the skillset to change games with one catch.

On Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers, McLaurin twisted his body like a contortionist to make a catch for 34 yards that set up Washington in a scoring position. It's the kind of game-changing ability that McLaurin has in his locker and it makes him a very useful weapon for the Washington offense and particularly Heinicke.

For Washington to have a chance of winning on Thursday night, McLaurin is going to have to be on his A-game due to fellow offensive star, Antonio Gibson, suffering a number of consecutive injuries.

Montez Sweat (Washington Football Team)

Sweat was drafted by Washington in 2019 as the 26th pick in the NFL Draft. He has the ability to bully offensive lines with his size and speed, and has done so in his first two NFL seasons, tallying 16 sacks and 59 solo tackles in a Washington side that made the postseason last year.

In their game against the Chargers, Sweat registered two solo tackles and one sack. On Thursday night, he will therefore be crucial in trying to stop Saquon Barkley and the Giants offense. 

With his ability to torment offensive lines, Sweat will have a chance to put Jones under pressure and force him to make rash decisions. With Jones' vulnerability to spilling the ball, we could see a fair few turnovers on Thursday.

Previous matchups

The two sides have met 177 times and the Giants have won the last five. As they both play in the same division, the two sides play each other twice a year home and away.

November 8, 2020: New York Giants 23-20 Washington Football Team

Although the Giants ran out as winners, this game will be remembered for the remarkable comeback of Washington quarterback Alex Smith.

During Smith's first season in Washington, he suffered a life-threatening injury to his right leg, avoided amputation and was expected to never play again. He made his return to the football field and threw his first touchdown pass in 728 days.

In the week nine matchup, Giants quarterback Daniel Jones fumbled the ball twice but was able to lead his team to a narrow victory. At the end of the first half, the Giants had a 17-point lead and were able to withstand a comeback to win by three points.

October 18, 2020: Washington Football Team 19-20 New York Giants

The Giants won their first game of the season with a narrow 20-19 victory over Washington. Washington had Kyle Allen at quarterback after he had spent two seasons with the Carolina Panthers, and the third-year starter threw for 280 yards and two touchdowns, but it wasn't enough to get them the victory.

It wasn't without trying though, as he lead a touchdown drive in the final moments of the fourth quarter. The team decided to go for two points to win the game rather than kick the extra point and send the game to overtime.

The loss meant that Washington were yet to win a game on the road.

December 22, 2019: New York Giants 41-35 Washington Football Team (OT)

In 2019, the two sides met in a touchdown frenzy at FedExField. Giants quarterback Jones threw five touchdowns including the winner in overtime.

Jones threw a three-yard touchdown pass to Kaden Smith to cap off a 66-yard drive for the Big Blue, and the Giants running back rushed for 189 yards and one touchdown.

For Washington, the touchdowns were more spread out, with Case Keenum throwing one and rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins throwing for two more. Keenum also ran himself for a touchdown alongside veteran running back Adrian Peterson.

In total, 11 touchdowns were scored in just one game. Neither side was in contention of making the playoffs and both would finish the season with losing records.

READ MORE: Winners and losers from the opening Sunday of the NFL season

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