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Giants vs. Redskins Week 13: What to watch on Sunday

Five things we're keying on when the Giants face the Redskins

Alex Trautwig

The New York Giants (4-7) and Washington (3-8) meet for the first time this season on Sunday night in a game that despite the unimpressive records actually has major implications.

The Giants, who had reeled off four straight wins after an 0-6 start, lost last week to the Dallas Cowboys at home, but are not yet eliminated from the NFC East race. The Giants are 2.5 games back, and with a win could remain in the hunt for a fourth seed in the NFC playoff picture.

Washington, on the other hand, is attempting to quiet the critics in D.C. There are rumblings about Mike Shanahan's future with the organization, Robert Griffin III's health and what this team has to do in the offseason to return to the top of the standings.

Here's what we're keying in on Sunday night:

Robert Griffin III vs. the Giants secondary

In his rookie season, RGIII torched the Giants for 421 yards, three touchdowns and a 67-percent completion rate. He also rushed for 161 yards in their two meetings last season.

This season RGIII has been more prolific through the air, and due to his offseason surgery not as dynamic on the ground. Besides, New York has fared awfully well against dual-threat quarterbacks this season, holding both Terrelle Pryor and Cam Newton in check, as well as a banged up Michael Vick.

The Giants have held opposing passers to a pedestrian 216 yards per game in their past three games, meaning RGIII will have his work cut out for him.

Redskins rushing attack

The Redskins rushing attack enters Week 13 as the best in the league, averaging more than 150 yards per game. The combination of Alfred Morris, Roy Helu and RGIII give the offense numerous weapons to make the offense multi-dimensional.

The Giants, on the other hand, have held each of their past three opponents to 90 yards rushing, and throughout the season have locked down the likes of Jamal Charles, Adrian Peterson and LeSean McCoy (twice).

Morris is 30 yards shy of his second straight 1,000-yard season and will be a major factor in determining the success of the Redskins' offense Sunday.

Eli Manning vs. the Redskins secondary

Manning has been anything but spectacular this season, devolving into more of a dink-and-dunk quarterback and not being as spectacular when it comes to big plays in the passing game. Manning's last 300-yard passing performance came back on Oct. 6 against the Eagles.

Washington, though, has allowed the 27th-most yards to opposing signal-callers. Last season Manning averaged 309 yards per game against the Skins, both of which were offensively dominated contests. This is the sort of game in which the Giants will have to find a rhythm in the passing game, otherwise there's not much hope they'd be able to make a push for the playoffs.

Hakeem Nicks

There are so many questions surrounding Nicks this season. Obviously, there was the off-season issues and health concerns, but last week the receiver was a healthy scratch because he failed to practice enough during the week. Come on, isn't this the same time that Plaxico Burress played on?

Nicks is expected to play Sunday night, but for how many snaps and how effective will he be? The soon-to-be free agent is second on the team in receiving with 620 yards, but has failed to find the end zone to date. Last season, Washington held him to 96 yards and zero touchdowns in the team's two meetings.

Special teams the difference-maker?

Washington allows 17 yards per punt return, which is the worst in the NFL. The next worst: the Giants, allowing 16 yards per return.

The Giants and Redskins are also among the league worst in kickoff return averages -- 29th and 31st, respectively -- as well as punt return averages -- 23rd and 30th, respectively.

Perhaps this is the game these less-than-mediocre special teams units allows one to slip by. Neither of these teams excel in any aspect of special teams, and at this point in the season where really anything goes, a punt or kick return for a score could seal the deal.

Follow Sam on Twitter @SamSpiegs