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Giants at Redskins, Week 12: When Washington has the ball

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What can we look forward to when the Giants' defense is on the field?

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

After a (hopefully) restful bye week the New York Giants travel to Fed Ex Field to face the Washington Redskins. For their part, Washington is coming off a dismantling by the Carolina Panthers.

Much like their first game, the Giants will want to take the Washington running game out of the equation, and put the ball in Kirk Cousins' hands. That will take a combined effort by the entire Giants squad. The offense will need to take advantage of a defense that gave up five touchdowns to the Panthers, while the defense will need to play a sound game.

Stats At A Glance

Rushing Yards Passing Yards Total Yards Points
Washington Redskins Offense 95.3 (25th) 237.5 (20th) 332.8 (28th) 22.1 (20th)
New York Giants Defense 111.0 (19th) 309.0 (32nd) 420.0 (31st) 25.3 (24th)

Defensive Line

The single most dominant story line of the Giants' 2015 season has been Jason Pierre-Paul. First it was whether or not the Giants would sign him to a long-term deal, then his hold-out after receiving the franchise tag. Then it took the now-famous turn after JPP's Fourth of July fireworks accident. The story took another turn when he returned to the Giants and the field, playing at a much higher level than any outside observer would have thought possible.

Since JPP's return, the Giants' anemic pass rush has found new life, pressuring Jameis Winston on more than 50% of his pass attempts and Tom Brady on more than 60% of his pass attempts. One of the big match-ups to be watching is how JPP will perform against Trent Williams. We are still in uncharted territory as JPP learns how he has to play with his injured hand and how offenses will now deal with him. On the flip side, Williams did not practice on Wednesday with an injured knee.

For his part, JPP will be studying hard in preparation for the game.

"I really have to go study the film," Pierre-Paul said. "I know he's a good quarterback, both of the quarterbacks they had were good, but he's getting better and better. Each game he's making plays and getting better and better. I have to study them really hard, study my opponent, study the tackle in front of me. Trent Williams, he's a good tackle. I played against him for five years now and he's been dominant. He made me better as a player, so I have to study him, and that's basically it from me."

It will also be worth watching how the Giants use their interior defensive line. Jay Bromley hasn't seen seen the expected bump in snaps after Johnathan Hankins' season ending injury. Will the Giants play Bromley and nose tackle Montori Hughes more after a bye week to adjust?

Linebackers

Tight end Jordan Reed has emerged in recent weeks as the Redskins' go-to playmaker and best scoring option. In Week 3, Reed tormented the Giants' defense to the tune of six catches for 96 yards. They will need to contain him this time around, and that will -- at least some of the time -- fall to the linebackers.

Devon Kennard has been calling the defense since the loss of Jon Beason, and he has risen to his new responsibilities. It has also allowed new middle linebaker Jasper Brinkley to play quickly, and it has resulted inthree takeaways in the last two games.

Finally, the Giants might be getting weakside linebacker J.T. Thomas back from an ankle injury that has sidelined him for the past few weeks. He was listed as a limited participant in Wednesday's practice, but was seen sprinting between the drills.

Secondary

The Giants are expected to get Prince Amukamara back from the pec injury that has kept him out since the first half of October. Jayron Hosley has performed better than many expected in Prince's absence, but the Giants' starter is the better player. His return comes at just the right time as Washington has gotten Desean Jackson back from injury. It remains to be seen how well Prince will be able to tackle while wearing a harness to protect his chest, but even so, the 25-pound advantage he has over Hosley should help in run defense on the edge.

Prince's return will also help with communication in the secondary. Prior to his injury, Prince was handling much of the secondary calls, helping to take the load off of rookie safety Landon Collins. The Giants have to hope that Collins will play better with better coverage on the edges and less of a mental burden.

The Giants' secondary will also look to keep their opportunistic ways alive versus Kirk Cousins. Cousins has had a multi-interception game each time he has faced New York, totaling eight interceptions in his three games against the Giants.

Final Thoughts

I'm not going to join in the chorus of voices saying that this is a huge game for the New York Football Giants. But that is simply because they are all huge games. While the Giants have a lead in the division and a breath of wiggle room, it is only a one game lead, and they play the two teams nipping at their heels in the last six weeks.

For all intents and purposes, the playoffs start this week. If the Giants win their games, it doesn't matter what the rest of the division does. But that's easier said than done; New York has been a .500 team over the first 10 games of 2015, but that's because they have largely played like a 12-4 team for the first 45 minutes of games, and then reverted into a 4-12 team for the last quarter. If the Giants want to prove that they are the former and close out their season, propelling themselves into the playoffs, it all starts this week in Washington.