By Michael Stewart
Introduction: The New York Giants travel to Washington to close out the Thanksgiving schedule after a stunning victory over the Kansas City Chiefs 12-9 in overtime. The Redskins are coming off a disappointing loss to the hands of the New Orleans Saints 34-31, after building a 15 point lead in the 4th quarter; only to watch it slip away with a little under six minutes to play. The Giants will be looking to win back to back games for the first time this season and the Redskins are looking to stay in the playoff hunt, trailing a number of teams by 2 games in the standings. The Giants will once again rely on their defense to play as they did against the Chiefs and sustain drives on offense to keep the Redskins offense off the field as much as possible. The Giants offensive line has under-performed for most the season and will likely be without offensive guard D. J Fluker who will join Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg on the disabled list. The Redskins have a balanced team led by quarterback Kirk Cousins with 2,796 yards through the air with 17/5 touchdown to interception ratio. The Redskins will feature and running back duo of Chris Thompson and rookie Samaje Perine who have combined for 621 yards and 3 touchdowns. Perine is getting most of the touches and has shown improvement with each game. Wide receiver Jamison Crowder and tight end Vernon Davis should be Cousins main targets throughout the game. Defensively, both teams are fairly equal, so this matchup could be the deciding factor in the game.
Top 3 Matchups:
- Giant’s defense-vs-Redskins defense: The Giants played their best game on the defensive side of the ball last week against the Chiefs; and they will need to ask again to do the same against the Redskins. The Redskins have holes on defense, yielding 249 yards in the air and 114 yards on the ground thus far this season.
- Giant’s offense-vs-Redskins offense: Eli Manning hasn’t done well in recent matchups against Kirk Cousins and overall, the Redskins have a more productive offense than the Giants this season. Manning and the Giants offense must string together multiple drives and keep the Redskins defense on the field and the Redskins offense off the field as much as possible. The Giants don’t have to win the time of possession, but they do need to keep it close.
- Turnovers: Entering the game, both teams have a zero turnover ratio and that could change in this game. Over the last several meetings between these two teams, turnovers have played a key role in deciding the winner and I expect that to be the same in this game. The Giants beat the Chiefs because they forced 3 turnovers to a team that was very stingy in coughing up the ball; which led to 9 of their 12 points. Giants need to win this battle as well and capitalize by putting points on the board as a result of a turnover.
What to look for: Both teams offensively will employ a balance offense (passing/running) with the exception that the Redskins and Cousins will stretch the field more than the Giants and look to exploit the Giants deep coverage. On defense, both teams will pick their moments on blitzes and try to play with the philosophy of bending and not breaking. Special teams on both sides will play a part in this matchup and field position could be a major contributor in determining the outcome in this game. The Redskins have an advantage in the kicking department and hopefully it won’t come down to that.
Final Score Summary: This game will have mixed emotions from both teams; the Giants are high after a stunning victory and the Redskins emotions is one of anger for letting a sure win slip away. I expect the Giants to show up in this game, mainly because this a division rival and hopefully these players have pride. The Redskins know that every game the rest of the way is important and a loss to the Giants would most likely end their playoff dreams. Playing at home and still seething from their lost to the Saints last week will be enough to give the Redskins the edge they need to defeat the Giants on Turkey day.