The Giants and Commanders battle it out for an all-important division win.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) The Washington Commanders and New York Giants entered the season with the goal of closing the gap on the perennial frontrunners in the NFC East, the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys.
Inching toward the halfway point and with a game against New York at MetLife Stadium up next on Sunday, the Commanders (3-3) are a lot closer to success than the offensively inept Giants, who have lost four straight and dropped to 1-5.
There’s a lot at stake for both teams. Washington finished only a game out of a playoff spot a year ago - and that was in large part due to being 0-1-1 in its two games against New York.
Both teams played well last week. The Commanders beat the Falcons in Atlanta to snap a three-game losing streak, while the Giants played their most complete game of the season in dropping a 14-9 decision to Buffalo on Sunday night.
Commanders coach Ron Rivera is expecting another good game from New York since it involves another NFC East team.
“I think that’s probably the biggest one more than anything else,” he said. “It’s a divisional game and you’re going to play against your divisional rivals a little better. At least I believe you typically should because you know them a little bit more. Because of that, I think that’s what really brings the game to being pretty evenly matched.”
Despite being 1-5, with the Oct. 31 trade deadline looming, the Giants superstar wants to stay in New York.
“Sitting here, everyone knows how I feel. Everyone knows I don’t want to get traded,” Barkley said Thursday. “I don’t think anyone in their right mind would want to get traded anywhere. It’s not an easy thing to do. You have to move. I have a family. I would love to be here.
“But like I said, it’s not in my control. My focus is to be the leader I can be for this team and get this thing on the right track.”
The argument can be made for the struggling Giants to start moving players. This season, to date, has been an unmitigated disaster, a surprise on the heels of last season’s success when New York reached the postseason and won a playoff game in its first year under general manager Joe Schoen and coach Brian Daboll.
This uncertainty gives credence to the idea that moving Barkley at the deadline could be best for the player and the organization. Not that it’s something Barkley has considered.
“That never crossed my mind,” he said. “Obviously I’ve been public and vocal about how I feel about this organization and where I want to be. But like I said, knowing the business and seeing that side of it, there are a lot of things that I can’t control.”
Philadelphia Eagles’ Marcus Mariota Ready for ‘Full-Circle Moment’ with Jalen Hurts vs. Miami Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa - Isaiah Deanda Delgado, Sports Illustrated
Two Eagles quarterbacks have a long history with Miami’s signal-caller.
Before becoming Philadelphia’s No. 2 quarterback, Mariota was a Heisman winner in college and a Hawaii legend on the gridiron, the same state that produced Dolphins starter Tua Tagovailoa.
When Tagovailoa was coming up, Mariota helped mentor the quarterback who would eventually take the starting job from Hurts at Alabama.
“It’s a full-circle moment,” Mariota said. “I’ve known Tua since he was a young man. And even at a young age, he had the skills and the abilities that we all kind of looked at each other like, he’s going to be pretty good. To see where he’s at now and all the things that he’s persevered through, it’s been really, really cool for me.”
Mariota also acknowledged the odd contrast in the relationship dynamic stemming from his closer bond to the opposing quarterback than his new Eagles teammate Hurts.
“It’s going to be such a weird scenario, right? I’ve known Tua for so long,” Mariota said. “I’m getting to know Jalen. It’s really cool to kind of see all these different relationships, and I’m excited for a great game.”
Hurts and Tagovailoa’s careers will always be linked because of what happened at Alabama, and although each one has excelled in the NFL using different skill sets, Mariota believes it’s because of their similarities as men and their college hardships that they thrive today.
“They’re complete gentlemen, and at the same time, they’re just unbelievable competitors,” Mariota said. “They just want the best for the team, and that says a lot. I think the reason they’ve both had so much success in their professional careers is a result of what happened at Alabama.”