The New York Giants face the Washington Redskins Sunday in the season finale at MetLife Stadium. Let's look at the matchup of the two disappointing NFC East rivals.
When The Giants Have The Ball
Eli Manning has already thrown a career and franchise-worst 26 interceptions. Will he add to that total on Sunday? Can wide receiver Hakeem Nicks catch a touchdown pass, or will he go 0-for-2013 in that department? Will this be the last time we see Nicks and David Diehl in Giants' uniforms? Who will run the ball? Both Andre Brown and Peyton Hillis have gone through the NFL concussion protocol and been cleared, so they should both play. Can Jerrel Jernigan, who has 13 catches in the past two weeks, continue his impressive play?
These are some of the questions swirling around the Giants' offense in Sunday's season finale.
In terms of the game itself, the primary question is can the Giants' makeshift offensive line, which may feature Dallas Reynolds at right guard, block Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Barry Cofield and Co.?
The Giants have scored 30 points only once this season, that in a season-opening 36-31 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Manning has not thrown for 300 or more yards since Week 5 vs. the Philadelphia Eagles.
It would be nice to see the Giants put together one quality offensive performance before heading into an offseason where that side of the ball will require major reconstruction. Don't, however, count on seeing anything different Sunday than the jumbled mess you have seen from the Giants all season.
When the Redskins Have The Ball
The last time the Giants faced the Redskins, a 24-17 victory by the Giants at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., Robert Griffin III was the Washington quarterback. Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that head coach Mike Shanahan has benched RGIII and that Kirk Cousins is playing out the string as the Redskins' signal-caller.
That changes the Redskins' offense from the read-option style made possible by Griffin's ability to run to a much more traditional attack.
"They're not featuring the option. I'm not telling you that they wouldn't run it, but you don't see that," said Giants' head coach tom Coughlin. "You see the traditional two-back runs. You see the two-tight end, two receiver runs. You see the three-wide runs. They're diversified. They have some four wide receivers. They have a number of receivers that play and have different responsibilities and they are throwing the ball a lot."
Cousins has, in fact, thrown the ball 81 times in his two starts, completing 50 passes. Thus, he will test the Giants' secondary and the Justin Tuck-led pass rush.
Can Tuck (nine sacks) get to double digits in that category for the first time since 2010? Will this be the last time we see the defensive end in a Giants' uniform? How about free-agent-to-be defensive tackle Linval Joseph?
The Giants held Washington running back Alfred Morris to 26 yards on 11 carries the first time the teams met. Morris has 1,213 yards this season and averages 4.7 yards per carry. Can the Giants contain him again?
Indicative of the disappointing seasons experienced by both teams, the Giants and Redskins special teams units have been among the worst in the league:
Opponent Punt Return
Giants: 14.7 yards, 3 TDs allowed (31st)
Redskins: 18.5 yards, 3 TDs allowed (32nd)
Opponent Kickoff Return
Giants: 22.4 yards (11th)
Redskins: 22.3 yards (10th)
Giants: 7.9 yards (24th)
Redskins: 6.7 yards (27th)
Giants: 21.1 yards (28th)
Redskins: 20.1 yards (31st)
Perhaps the less we belabor this the better. The bright note for the Giants is that placekicker Josh Brown won the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week award last week after kicking three 40+ yard field goals, including a 45-yard game-winner, in a victory over the Detroit Lions. Brown is 21-of-23 on the season and has made 17 straight. His last miss came in Week 4 vs. the Kansas City Chiefs.