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Skins-Giants first take

Skins-Giants first take

My initial impression of the upcoming Washington Redskins-New York Giants game is that this is a winnable game for the Redskins.

That doesn't mean that I'm going to pick them to win. I'm not sure about that just yet. But it doesn't seem to me that this is as daunting a task as one normally would think that going into the house of the defending Super Bowl champs would be.

No disrespect intended for the Giants here. I'm not one of those who calls their run to the title last year a fluke or anything like that. Three road wins in the playoffs, two of them against the #1 and #2 seeds, and then beating the supposedly unbeatable team ready to be crowned as the Greatest of All Time in the Super Bowl is no fluke.

The championship run is history. So is the last meeting between these two teams, a 22-10 win for the Skins in Week 15, a game that was not as close as the final score indicated. Eli Manning threw a mind-numbing, record-setting 35 incomplete passes. Clinton Portis rushed for 126 yards on 26 carries. The Redskins were in charge of the contest throughout, building a 22-3 lead in the third quarter that emptied out Giants Stadium early.

If you'd told any of those chilled, disgusted fans then that their team would be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in a little less than two months, you would have gotten some strange looks. If you'd told them then that the Redskins would be returning to that stadium in the teams' first game of 2008, most would have looked for a place to bet the Redskins.

So, the question is: Are the Giants a better team now than they were on December 16, 2007?

In regards to personnel, the answer would seem to be no, they are worse. The loss of Osi Umenyiora to injury added to the retirement of Michael Strahan puts a couple of major dents into the defensive line. Fortunately for the Giants the position was one of great strength and depth. Justin Tuck is a quality replacement and while linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka
may develop into a good DE some day, there still is a dropoff from Strahan and Osil.

Tight end Jeremy Shockey was injured and put out for the season in that December game. Kevin Boss starts in his place and while he caught a few key passes down the stretch, the Shockey trade may end up being one of those that seemed to be a good idea at the time, but later on maybe not so much.

Manning certainly rebounded from that dismal showing in the swirling Jersey winds with a nice showing in the postseason. He threw for 854 yards with six TD's to one INT for a 95.7 rating during the playoffs. His confidence—and, just as important, his teammates' confidence in him—grew by the game.

Confidence was what the run was all about. It was at a low point after the loss to the Skins. The next week against the Bills, the G-Men were in danger of missing the playoffs altogether as they bumbled and stumbled and trailed a pesky Bills team in Buffalo.

They came back and won that game to clinch a playoff spot, and then gave the Patriots all they could handle in the season finale. They got on a roll that didn't stop until they dashed New England's dreams of grandeur in Arizona.

But it's seven months later now. Can momentum carry itself through spring and summer, through ring ceremonies and mall openings, through writing books and collecting accolades? If the answer is yes, can Big Mo make up for the absence of Umenyiora and Strahan?

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Redskins plan to 'spy' Cardinals' David Johnson with rookie Su'a Cravens, per source

Redskins plan to 'spy' Cardinals' David Johnson with rookie Su'a Cravens, per source

Facing one of the NFL's best running backs in Arizona's David Johnson, the Redskins plan to use rookie linebacker Su'a Cravens as a spy in nickel coverage to slow down the Cardinals' threat, per a source close to the team.

Johnson ranks third in the NFL with 921 rushing yards, but it's the variety of ways the Arizona offense uses their second-year running back that makes him so difficult to handle for opposing defenses. Johnson also has 55 catches for 613 yards, and that's just through 11 games.

Cravens comes into the game with momentum as perhaps the Redskins most dynamic defensive threat. With size to play linebacker and enough speed to play coverage, the 6-foot-1, 220 lbs. rookie out of USC will be put in a tough position covering Johnson. The reality of his assignment is to try and contain Johnson as the Cardinals offense is so reliant on the runner that he will get a number of chances.

In their last two games, Johnson has gone for more than 150 total yards in each contest and scored multiple touchdowns. For his part, Cravens has proved a playmaker in his rookie season. To go with 29 tackles in nine games, his stat sheet has sacks and an interception listed.

Getting to Carson Palmer is the best path for the Redskins defense - especially considering the Cardinals' offensive line woes - but using Cravens to try and limit Johnson is a smart course of action for the 'Skins.

One member of the Washington defense explained that Johnson is "going to make plays" but that the key is to limit the damage. If the running back catches a ball out of the backfield, Joe Barry's defense will be focused on making a stop after a five-yard gain, instead of a 20-yard gain.

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins vs. Cardinals Live Updates: Score, stats, highlights, analysis, video

Redskins vs. Cardinals Live Updates: Score, stats, highlights, analysis, video

The Redskins and Cardinals highlight the Week 13 schedule with a showdown in the desert with heavy NFL playoff implications on the line.

If the Redskins (6-5-1) can score a victory over the Cardinals (4-6-1), the team can move closer to solidifying one of the top two Wild Card spots in the NFC playoff race.

Depite the Redskins' difficult Week 12 loss to the Cowboys, Kirk Cousins is playing the best football of his career as of late, and earned the NFC Player of the Month honors for his efforts.

While running back Robert Kelley did have a slip-up against the Cowboys, the team's run game still looks vastly improved from the early season, which allows the passing game to thrive even more. Jamison Crowder continues to impress, and although Jordan Reed will miss the Cardinals game with an injury, Vernon Daivs has proven to be an excellent option for Cousins.

The most entertaining matchup of Week 13 might be Redskins DB Josh Norman vs. Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, but the most important matchup will undoubtedly be the Redskins defensive line vs. Cardinals RB David Johnson. 

RELATED: NFL PLAYOFF SCENARIOS HEADING INTO WEEK 13

Johnson trails just DeMarco Murray and Ezekiel Elliott -- who finished with 83 yards and one TD in Week 12 -- in total rushing yards with 920 and trails just Elliott and Legarrett Blount in rushing touchdowns with 10. The Redskins rank 25th in rushing defense, and have given up an average of 108 rushing yards in their last five games.

Redskins vs. Cardinals kicks off at 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, Dec. 4 on FOX. Redskins Kickoff gets things started at 3:00 p.m. ET on CSN Mid-Atlantic. (Channel Finder)

CSN is providing all the live updates, stats, scores, highlights, videos and analysis from Redskins vs. Cardinals. Got a comment on the game? Be sure to let us know in the comment section and join Santana Moss and Sebastian Salazar at halftime for the Facebook Live Q&A.

RELATED: BEST & WORST REDSKINS ALTERNATE UNIFORMS

Redskins vs. Cardinals Live Updates

PREGAME:

10:30 AM: Game Preview: The five things you need to know before Redskins vs. Cardinals.

1. Keep it moving
2. Missing in action
3. Consider the source
4. Problems don't go away
5. Harder they fall

10:15 AM: Be sure to follow CSN Insiders J.P. Finlay and Rich Tandler, who are at University of Phoenix Stadium in Phoenix, Ari. Also, give our CSN Redskins Twitter account too. Come for the analysis, stay for the dank memes.

10:00 AM: Welcome to CSNMA's live updates blog of Week 13 Redskins vs. Cardinals. As always, I am Troy Machir and today I will be your online guide to Redskins vs. Cardinals football in the painted desert of the southwest. If you have an issue with me, you can cuss me out on Twitter, 140 characters at a time. It's fun.