The division-leading New York Giants, coming off a bye with an extra week of recovery, that should be a scary team right? They're facing a team that they have beat five straight times, with an average margin of victory that surpasses two touchdowns. This should be a cake-walk.
Well, no. Tom Coughlin has been good after a bye-week (7-4), but late-season collapses have been a hallmark of his poorer teams. With just six games left in the season, this would be right around the time something like that should occur. On paper, the Giants have all the tools to win. In practice, things may go a little differently.
Stats At A Glance
|Rushing Yards||Passing Yards||Total Yards||Points|
|New York Giants Offense||95.0 (26th)||261.9 (10th)||356.9 (14th)||27.3 (4th)|
|Washington Redskins Defense||136.0 (30th)||234.1 (12th)||370.1 (22nd)||25.3 (24th)|
In the last three games against Washington, Eli Manning has thrown nine touchdowns and just one interception. This is the reality of Ben McAdoo's offense, as it's clear that some teams are very susceptible to its schematic concepts. The DC defense appears to be ill-equipped to stop Manning since McAdoo took over last year.
Dan Snyder was so determined to land Robert Griffin III that it impacted the team's ability to rebuild an ailing defense. Washington hasn't drafted a first-round defender since 2011 and it shows. They have added some pieces, but the secondary is still a mess. If Manning avoids throwing towards Bashaud Breeland and focuses on the other defensive backs, things should be smooth sailing once again.
I am expecting the deep-pass to be a strong element of this week's game-plan. Manning threw the ball 15 yards or more on six occasions in the first meeting this year. The offense had mechanical precision in their last game against the New England Patriots, and we saw the down-field passing attack in full force. With a bye week to review film, it makes sense for the Giants to build on what worked last time out.
At the time of writing, Justin Pugh is still in concussion protocol, while Weston Richburg is a limited participant in practice. The Giants can possibly afford to go without one of these two, but certainly not both. Their respective replacements are substantially worse, and while it is possible to scheme your way around one weak link, it's a different story when you're down two starters and Marshall Newhouse is your right-tackle. When you have to push Dallas Reynolds and John Jerry into the lineup, you have to plan around an entire unit. Suddenly, that's 60 percent of your line. That's a majority. That's just not feasible.
In the first game against Washington, the Giants' running backs combined for 84 yards on 31 carries. It's unlikely that they'll have much more success on Sunday. Beating a meager 2.7 average yards-per-attempt shouldn't be a daunting task, but considering the line may be in flux, take the under on that average. Take the under all damn day.
This will be the Giants' first game with Hakeem Nicks back on the roster, however it's possible that we don't see much from the prodigal son upon his return. With less than a fortnight's familiarity with the playbook, Nicks may be relegated to an emergency option, or even a healthy scratch depending on the game-plan. At best, his role should be as a rotational fourth receiver. Keep your expectations low.
Instead, focus your attention on Odell Beckham Jr. Last year, he had a huge 143 yards and three touchdowns in one game, and despite some lingering hamstring issues this year, Beckham managed 79 yards and a score while diverting attention away from Rueben Randle, who had a season high 116 yards.
Amazingly, Shane Vereen did not record a catch in the prior meeting. Washington have excellent outside linebackers, but a repeat shutdown won't happen. Vereen has become more important to this offense as the year has progressed. With motion, stacking and the possibility of calling screens to neutralize the pass-rush, Vereen should have a bigger day this time around.
Lastly, we have the tight ends. Larry Donnell is not only questionable for this game, his whole season is in doubt. That neck injury is worse than originally thought, so look for the team to rely on Will Tye and Jerome Cunningham again here.
My X-factor for this game is Pugh. He's the best offensive lineman on either team and his presence makes Manning's job much easier on game days. If he takes the field, we're golden. Given the nature of his injury -- a lingering concussion -- I hope for his sake he's playing on Sunday.
Even without Pugh, there are enough weak links in the opposing defense for the Giants to exploit, so they should be fine on Sunday. Manning has been money against Washington for quite some time now, and looks well set to continue after a week of rest and relaxation. With a refreshed offense and plenty of time to study film, McAdoo is primed to puncture another tab in the W column.