The New York Giants and Washington Redskins have both under-achieved thus far in 2013. Which team can overcome its issues and win when the teams meet Sunday night at FedEx Field? Let's break down the matchups and see what we can find out.
When The Giants Have The Ball
The Giants will be facing a Washington defense that, on paper, has not been very good this season. The Redskins are 30th in points allowed (30.7 per game), 28th in yards (382.1 per game), 27th vs. the pass (270.6) and 14th vs. the run (111.5).
The Giants, of course, have had problems of their own on offense. New York is 27th in points per game (19.4), 24th in yards (323.9), 17th in passing yards (235.5) and 25th in rushing yards (88.4).
Can the Giants, yet to play a complete offensive game this season, take advantage of the Redskins' defense? Much of that will depend on handling Washington's talented outside linebackers, Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan. Both players have 6.5 sacks on the season.
Will the Giants have wide receiver Hakeem Nicks in their arsenal on Sunday night? Nicks, the team's second-leading receiver with 42 catches, has practiced on a limited basis this week after missing Sunday's game vs. the Dallas Cowboys with an abdominal injury. The Redskins have given up 54 passing plays of 20 or more yards this season, second-most in the league. The Giants, as any long-time observer knows, like to take shots down the field. So, look for that from Eli Manning and Co. Sunday night.
The Giants have struggled to score touchdowns this season. They are 27th in the league in red-zone scoring percentage, converting only 46.4 percent of their red-zone trips into touchdowns. The Giants are also 25th in third-down conversion percentage at 34.7 percent.
With Andre Brown getting 127 and Brandon Jacobs 75 the Giants ran for a season-best 202 yards vs. the Cowboys.
When The Redskins Have The Ball
When the Giants revamped the interior of their defense in the offseason, trying to toughen up against the run, it was largely with the Redskins in mind. The effort to improve the run defense has worked as the Giants are seventh in rushing yards per game allowed (98.8) and fourth in yards per carry allowed (3.7). The Giants have compiled those numbers while facing several of the league's best running backs -- including Philly's LeSean McCoy (twice), Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, Green Bay's Eddie Lacy and Kansas City's Jamal Charles.
Now, the Giants get to test their mettle against Alfred Morris, Robert Griffin III and the NFL's No.1-ranked rushing attack. The Redskins average 151.5 yards rushing per game. Morris is third in the league behind McCoy and Peterson with 970 yards on 195 attempts (5.0 yards per carry). Griffin may not be as explosive as he was following offseason knee surgery, but he still has 372 yards rushing and averages 5.3 yards per carry.
"What they have is an outstanding runner in Alfred Morris and when they run the pistol dive or dive option ... Boy, if you're not in perfect position to tackle that guy, he's going to drag you anyway. He's very powerful, very much full speed in one step," Giants' head coach Tom Coughlin said. "They've been very effective with their run game, not only last year but this year as well."
If the Giants can handle the run they will force the Redskins to do what they don't like to do -- rely on the passing of RGIII. Griffin has thrown 14 touchdown passes and been intercepted 11 times this season after being picked off only five times as a rookie in 2012. Griffin has been sacked 26 times, 12 in Washington's last three games.
The Giants' defense may not be at full strength vs. the Redskins. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder) and cornerback Trumaine McBride (groin) have not practiced this week.
New York Giants
|Offense||19.4||323.9 (24th)||235.5 (17th)||88.4 (25th)|
|Defense||25.5||333.8 (12th)||235.0 (15th-T)||98.8 (7th)|
Pts Yrds Pass Rush
|Offense||22.9||391.9 (7th)||240.5 (16th)||151.5 (1st)|
|Defense||30.7||382.1 (28th)||270.6 (26th)||111.5 (14th)|
The Giants may finally have a team whose overall special teams play has been worse than their own this season. Here are the numbers:
Kickoff Return Avg.
Giants 20.8 (29th)
Redskins 19.5 (31st)
Punt Return Avg.
Giants 8.2 (23rd)
Redskins 6.2 (30th)
Kickoff Return Yards Allowed
Giants 25.6 (27th)
Redskins 20.7 (4th)
Punt Return Yards Allowed
Giants 16.3 (31st)
Redskins 17.1 (32nd)
From those numbers, it's obvious neither team has a strong return game and both have struggled covering punts. The Redskins have given up two punt returns for touchdowns, while the Giants have given up three. The Giants surrendered a fourth touchdown on a bad punt snap.
Giants' punter Steve Weatherford is seventh in the league at 47.2 yards per punt, but the Giants are only 29th in net punting average at 37.0. Washington punter Sav Rocca is last in the league in net punting average at 34.7. Perhaps this is the week Giants' punt returner Rueben Randle, with 32 and 16-yard returns the past two games, breaks free for a game-changing play.
Giants' placekicker Josh Brown is 17-of-19 this season with only one miss in 13 attempts from inside 40 yards. Redskins' kicker kai Forbath is 9-of-13, with three misses in five attempts outside 40 yards.
The Redskins have used five different players to return punts and four to return kickoffs this season.