Five keys to the Redskins-Giants game plus a prediction:
1. When I’m looking at this game I keep on going back to Eli Manning’s ball security. He was a turnover machine in the Giants’ first six games, throwing 15 interceptions. In the five games since then he’s thrown two. Over his career he hasn’t been as bad as protecting the ball as he was earlier this year but hasn’t been as good as he has lately. How he does on Sunday night will go a long way towards determining the outcome.
2. The Redskins, of course, have their own streaky QB and Robert Griffin III has been going downhill lately. In his last six games he’s had three horrid games (vs. the Broncos, Eagles and 49ers), one solid game against the Vikings and two excellent performances against the Bears and Chargers. Not at all coincidentally, the only games there that the Redskins won are the two where he played well. My brilliant analysis of this is that Griffin needs to play well for the Redskins to win.
3. Victor Cruz is by far the Giants’ leading receiver with 60 catches for 851 yards. You have to think that he will primarily be DeAngelo Hall’s responsibility. Cruz was a handful for the Redskins last year; in the two games he caught 12 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown. The TD came in the last two minutes of the game at Met Life Stadium and gave the Giants the win.
4. Everyone justifiably complains about the inability of the Redskins to get to the quarterback. But they do have 27 sacks on the year. The Giants, who won two Super Bowls based largely on their ability to rack up sacks, are even worse. They have a mere 18 sacks so far. End Jason Pierre-Paul, who totaled 23 sacks in 2011-2012, has been battling injuries all year and he has just two sacks. JPP has not missed a game this year but he has been ruled out for Sunday’s game with a shoulder injury.
5. In addition to Pierre-Paul, the Giants will be missing another starter in cornerback Trumaine McBride. Also out are CB Corey Webster (ankle) and RB Brandon Jacobs (knee). The Redskins are likely to get TE Jordan Reed back from a concussion that sidelined him against the 49ers. However, they could be without fullback Darrel Young (hamstring) again and Niles Paul is also questionable after missing practice all week due to an illness. In addition, the Redskins placed starting defensive end Stephen Bowen on injured reserve with a knee injury.
Prediction: The Giants appear to be the more banged-up team but playing an opponent with multiple injuries did not help the Redskins against the Vikings. Will RG3 be on or off? I flipped a coin and came up with . . .
Redskins 28, Giants 21
Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, December 6, five days before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.
—Today's schedule: Off day
—Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 14; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 19; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 26
Injuries of note vs. Cardinals:
C Spencer Long (concussion), S Will Blackmon (concussion)
Postgame injury report
Last look at Redskins vs. Cardinals
Turning point: I have feeling that Sunday was a pivotal point in the season. When it’s all over the Cardinals game will either be looked at as the beginning of the end of their playoff run or as the low point that preceded a streak that got them into the playoffs.
A one-man show? One question raised on Sunday is whether the Redskins can win without a stellar performance from Kirk Cousins. His completion percentage of 56.8 on Sunday was his worst in any game this season. He made some nice passes but all in all he was not the guy who has carried the team for the past six weeks. If they are going to make the playoffs and perhaps do something when they get there the defense and running game are going to need to pitch in.
Pass happy play calling: The Redskins’ first four plays were passes. Then Rob Kelley went up the middle for 13 yards. The next five plays were passes. It was foreshadowing; during a game they never trailed by more than one score the Redskins called 39 passes and 17 runs. Kelley got 63 yards of 14 carries and Chris Thompson got 24 yards on two. Doing the math, the running backs averaged 5.4 yards per carry. I’m not one to nitpick the play calling but perhaps a few more handoffs would have helped move the ball more effectively.
Snap count spot check: Vernon Davis played every offensive snap but one. On defense, Duke Ihenacho played 64 snaps, his second-highest total of the season. They were in nickel a lot—Kendall Fuller played 55 snaps—but Su’a Cravens played only 37 snaps, about half.
Potpourri: If Dustin Hopkins was in a slump it looks like he’s out of it after booming a 53-yard field goal and pounding all six of his kickoffs for touchbacks . . . Although Davis did catch five passes for 47 yards with Jordan Reed out, he is missed as a second option when Reed can’t play . . . With Tyrann Mathieu, who usually covers the slot receiver, out Cousins tried to go to Jamison Crowder but he caught just three of the eight passes targeted to him . . . Like many games, we could stop all analysis of this game after seeing that the Redskins turned the ball over twice and didn’t manage to take it away.
In case you missed it
Cornerback Dashaun Phillips had a very short return to the Redskins’ active roster.
Phillips, who started the season as the nickel cornerback before being benched and eventually released and moved to the practice squad last month, was re-signed to the roster on Friday. He made the trip to Arizona but he was inactive for the game. The Redskins announced today that he has been released again.
It is possible for Phillips to return to the practice squad if he clears through waivers.
The transaction clears a roster spot for the return of offensive tackle Trent Williams, who has been suspended for the last four games.