The NFL schedule gods know that the Redskins and Giants will battle for the NFC East title in Week 17.
In three of the last four seasons, the NFC East has come down to the last game of the NFL regular season calendar in a playoff play-in game of sorts. Yes, that includes the game where Alfred Morris tore apart the Cowboys defense en route to the franchise’s first division crown since 1999.
So to continue our mini-series on the Redskins-Giants rivalry that dates back to the franchise’s days in Boston, we are going to look forward to the Burgundy and Gold’s Sunday Night Football tilt at FedExField on December 8th and the season finale on December 29th with five storylines to follow.
1.) Emulating 2012’s success in the run game
Last year the Redskins lead the league in rushing with 169.3 yards per game. Nothing proved the Redskins dominance on the ground more than when they played the Giants. In Week 7 the Redskins rushed for 248 yards as Morris crossed the century mark and Robert Griffin III followed up his 76-yard touchdown run against the Vikings a week prior by rushing for 89 yards. On the flipside, the G-Men got a measly 64 yards on the ground. Then in Week 13 the rookie duo once again shredded the Giants 25th ranked rushing D with 196 yards. If Washington wants to take two from New York like they did in 2011, the running game will need to be performing on all cylinders once again.
2.) Containing Victor Cruz
If it weren’t for Cruz’s 77-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter in Week 7, the Redskins would be riding a four-game winning streak against the Giants right now. The Redskins secondary struggled to keep Cruz in check last year as he had a combined 12 catches for 235 yards and a touchdown.
When the Redskins swept the Giants in 2011, Cruz struggled to get into rhythm as he failed to record a catch in Week 1 and only gained 44 yards in Week 15. With a revamped secondary that includes three rookies and a seasoned veteran in E.J. Biggers, the Redskins will look to repeat 2011’s success against the 2012 Pro Bowler.
3.) Turnover battle
The Redskins lost a very lopsided turnover battle in 2012, turning the ball over five times to the Giants two. While the secondary did corral Eli Manning into throwing two interceptions in Week 7, they fumbled the ball five times that day, losing three. After Cruz’s touchdown, the Burgundy and Gold got the pigskin back with a hair above a minute left in the contest. On the first play of the drive, Josh Morgan fumbled the ball and while he recovered the lost football, the same could not be said for Santana Moss just two plays later.
In Week 13, the Redskins shored up their turnover problems from the first game, but still lost the battle as they failed to generate a fumble or interception. No matter the game or the opponent, the Redskins fate will hinge on turnovers this season.
4.) Yellow flag battle
In 2012 the Redskins were the fifth most penalized team as they were called for 119 different infractions. None might have been more costly than Fred Davis’ illegal shift that cost the Redskins a touchdown in the first quarter of the front half of the season series. Instead of tacking seven points on the board, the Redskins had to settle for a Kai Forbath field goal. While I don’t want to play the “what if” game, the nullified touchdown could have been the game-tying points.
On the other side of the coin, the Giants were penalized only 72 times last year. Nine of those penalties came during the Monday night game. Result? “Hail to the Redskins” being sung into the wee hours of the morning.
5.) Sweep=Super Bowl
Seriously. During the Redskins decade of dominance starting in 1982, three Lombardi Trophies came to the Nation’s Capital. In those three seasons, the Redskins went 6-0 against their New York counterparts. So if the Redskins can sweep the Giants for the second time in three years, expect their odds to have another parade throughout the streets of D.C. to grow quickly.
Bottom line: The Giants have been the Redskins longest standing rival and 2013 should be no different as the two teams will more than likely be fighting for the playoffs come December. With Dallas’ recent regular season woes and the unknown in Philly, Big Blue and the Burgundy and Gold should be the cream of the crop in the NFC East next year.
Tags: Alfred Morris, EJ Biggers, Fred Davis, Kai Forbath, Robert Griffin III, Santana Moss
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