Redskins look to gain ground on first-place Giants in key NFC East clash
The New York Giants will try and increase their lead in the NFC East when they face off with the Washington Redskins tonight at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. The defending Super Bowl champion Giants hold a two-game edge over the Redskins and Cowboys, thanks in part to their 27-23 home win over the Skins back in Week 7. The Redskins, on the other hand, are hoping to make Robert Griffin III’s “Monday Night Football” debut a successful one by stretching their winning streak to three and also gaining some ground on the Giants in the process.
When the New York Giants have the ball:
The New York Giants’ offense ranks among the top 10 in the league in total, scoring and passing offense. The Giants are generating nearly 370 yards (10th), scoring nearly 28 points, and are ninth in passing offense at nearly 255 yards per game. Quarterback Eli Manning has struggled somewhat recently, as he’s thrown three touchdown passes and interceptions apiece over his last four games combined. When he’s on his game, however, Manning is one of the best in the league and can team with wide receivers Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks to do a lot of damage. The Giants also are 13th in rushing offense at nearly 115 yards per game, but suffered a big hit last week when backup running back Andre Brown was lost for the rest of the season with a broken leg. The onus falls to starter Ahmad Bradshaw to not only stay healthy, but also to continue to produce. First-round pick David Wilson should also get a chance to contribute, as it’s likely he will finally receive some significant playing time. The G-Men have done a good job of protecting the football (11 INTs, only five fumbles lost) and an exceptional job keeping Manning upright (14 sacks allowed, fewest in NFL).
Washington’s defense is ranked 28th in the league, as it is giving up an average of 390.5 yards per game. The Redskins can be described as a feast-or-famine type of defense, as they are No. 3 against the run (89.2 ypg), but second-to-last against the pass (301.4 ypg). The yardage allowed has been accompanied by a fair number of points as well, as they are giving up nearly 26 per game (25th in NFL). Pass rush has been an issue for this unit with just 20 sacks (26th), but it also has produced 22 takeaways, including 12 interceptions. Over all, the offense has done more than its part to assist the defense, as evidenced by the 31 points and 458 total yards surrendered to the Cowboys in last week’s 38-31 win on Thanksgiving Day.
When the Washington Redskins have the ball:
Washington is seventh in the NFL in both total (384.9 ypg) and scoring (26.8 ppg) offense. The Redskins have been clicking on all cylinders these past two weeks as they are averaging nearly 35 points and 400 yards of offense in their past two games, both wins. No. 2 overall pick Robert Griffin III has been the driving force for this offense all season long and he has taken it to another level recently. He became the first quarterback in Redskins history with four touchdown passes in consecutive games after dismantling the Cowboys (19-of-27, 304-4-1) on Thanksgiving Day last week. Griffin has been just as dangerous with his legs, however, as he and fellow rookie Alfred Morris have combined to form the league’s top rushing offense (163.5 ypg). Morris is fifth in the league in rushing yards, while Griffin, a quarterback, comes in at No. 21. These two combined for 467 yards of total offense (258 pass, 209 rush) the first time the Redskins and Giants played back in Week 7. While the Redskins may not be able to match up with the Giants’ receiving corps as a whole, they will have a “new” weapon at their disposal this time around. Wide receiver Pierre Garcon missed the first meeting with a foot injury, but he appears to be close to 100 percent after scoring on a 59-yard catch-and-run against the Cowboys last week. Another reason why the Redskins have been so effective on offense is they have committed a total of 10 turnovers. Remember this is an offense with a rookie quarterback and running back primarily handling the ball.
The New York Giants’ defense has done a good job of bending, but not breaking this season. The Giants are 23rd in the league in yards allowed at 366.6, but are ninth in scoring defense, surrendering 20.5 points per game. The defending Super Bowl champions have had their share of problems stopping both the run (114.0 ypg, 16th) and pass (252.6 ypg, 25th), but have made up for their deficiencies with production in other areas. The G-Men are tied for fifth in the league with 30 sacks and are second only to the Bears in the NFC in takeaways with 29, including 18 interceptions. They also are coming off of a game in which they held Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to just 10 points. Rodgers finished with just 219 yards passing and a touchdown, as the Giants picked off the league’s reigning MVP once and sacked him five times.
The Giants have already faced Robert Griffin III once and came away impressed, as the rookie quarterback piled up 359 yards of offense and put the Redskins ahead late in the fourth quarter back in Week 7. The Giants were able to respond thanks to a 77-yard scoring strike to Victor Cruz to pull out the 27-23 win at home on Oct. 21. Now the scene shifts to FedEx Field in RGIII’s “Monday Night Football” debut. The Redskins gave the Giants all they could handle and then some in the first game, out-gaining them 480 to 393 overall and 248 to 64 on the ground alone, and Griffin in particular has maintained his high level of play since that Week 7 meeting. In the four games since, Griffin has completed nearly 63 percent of his passes for 896 yards, nine touchdown passes, to go along with 172 yards rushing and just one turnover (INT). Compare that to the Giants, who dropped their last two games headed into their Week 11 bye as Eli Manning and the offense struggled mightily. In the four games following the win over the Redskins, Manning has completed less than 55 percent of his passes for 781 yards and three touchdowns, while turning it over four times (3 INTs, fumble lost). The good news, however, is that the Giants came out of the bye refreshed and seemingly renewed, much like they did last year in their journey to winning the Super Bowl, and manhandled the Packers 38-10 last week. Manning threw three touchdown passes in that game, and the Giants played mistake-free football whereas they had committed seven turnovers in the previous three games combined. So while Griffin and the Redskins appear to be playing at their best right now, the Giants seem to be back on track as well and they also bring experience and a championship pedigree to this party. And that especially applies when to comes to the respective defenses.
Giants 31, Redskins 23