New York Giants (5-5, 1st NFC East) at Washington Redskins (4-6, 2nd NFC East), 1pm Sunday at FedEx Field. With both Philadelphia and Dallas sustaining damaging losses on Thanksgiving, this game for 1st place in the NFC East at FedEx Field becomes even more important. The game will be carried on FOX, with Kenny Albert handling the play-by-play, supported by his analyst partner, Daryl “Moose” Johnston, and sideline reporter Laura Okmin.
The Giants return off their Bye Week, looking to re-group and build on their strong performance in the Week 10, 27-26 loss to New England. The Giants will welcome the return of CB Prince Amukamara (pectoral), but will likely be without the services of TE Larry Donnell (neck), LG Justin Pugh (concussion), and C Weston Richburg (ankle). Big Blue will need to re-shuffle their Offensive Line, which has steadily improved throughout the campaign – look for C Dallas Reynolds to start in place of Richburg and G John Jerry to start for Pugh. The Redskins allow opponents 4.8 yards/carry and it will be incumbent on the Giants’ O-Line to: establish more of a running game, open some holes for their running-back-by-committee group, and enable QB Eli Manning to control the game. Washington does have the ability to rush the passer, led by OLB Ryan Kerrigan (4.5 sacks).
For the Giants defensively, the return of DE Jason Pierre-Paul and the emergence of MLB Jasper Brinkley has injected some life into a much-maligned unit, ranked 24th in the NFL in Points Allowed (25.3 pts/game); ranked 32nd, and last in the NFL vs. the pass; 19th in the NFL against the run. They’ll need it, as Washington QB Kirk Cousins has completed 75.7% of his passes at home, with 10 TDs and only 2 INTs. Cousins has WR DeSean Jackson back in the lineup; Jackson has battled a hamstring problem most of the season, but scored a 56-yard TD against Carolina last week, and he is a “homerun hitter” for Washington. Jackson has experienced a lot of success against the Giants dating back to his time in Philadelphia. Washington is 4-1 at home this season, and they run hot and cold. Two weeks ago, the Redskins hammered New Orleans at home 47-14, and then last week, were drubbed by Carolina on the road, 44-16.
The Giants beat Washington at MetLife Stadium in Week 3 on a Thursday Night, 32-21. That game was marked by Washington turnovers and a lack of execution. That may not repeat itself in the return engagement; the Giants will need to run the ball and be sharp in the short passing game to control the clock and keep their defense off the field against Cousins and company. The Giants understand the magnitude of the game and will respond…Giants in a high-scoring, close game…31-24.
Mike Lalor can be heard talking New York sports on the Spadora on Sports radio program. His blog can be found at SpadoraOnSports.com.