Saturday, December 15, 2007

Week 15: Redskins vs Giants

Last week's win against the Bears defied my expectations for this team, especially after the loss of Jason Campbell and the introduction of long time backup Todd Collins. The Skins performance was admirable but let’s not confuse the forest for the trees. The forest that is the Redskins is a 6-7 team struggling to claw their way into the playoffs, starting a back-up quarterback and playing against a very physically talented receiver in Plaxico Burress. Neither the Redskins nor the Giants are the same team that matched-up in week three and while the Redskins have been devastated by injuries, the Giants have grown stronger and more confident. I never trust the lesser Manning to get things done, but the Giants defensive line is a force to be reckoned with and could easily reach double digit sacks against the Redskins hodgepodge O-line. The Redskins will struggle to put up points and with a depleted secondary will give up big plays to either Burress or Shockey.

The Bears defense is not what is has been in past years and Collins' ability to read their coverage and execute will not be the same against this Giants team that is more experienced and much more formidable at the front of attack. Collins will have less time to make his selections and get rid of the ball and will have to utilize TE Chris Cooley as his main offense weapon to sustain drives and get into Giants territory.
It was disappointing after Campbell went down that running back Clinton Portis did not answer the call and step up his game. Portis finished with 17 carries and only 36 yards. Portis did turn a screen pass into a 54 yard pick up but his value has to be downhill, running the football. His strength lies in getting to the second level of a defense, opening up space and making people miss tackles. These are all things he has shown flashes of this year, but nothing more than glimpses of his past talent. Blame is shared with the offensive line, but as a squad they have been getting better and I don't see Portis making the same strides to work within their strengths and abilities. The Redskins have offensive playmakers. Sunday's question will be whether Collins can get them involved and get them into open space allowing their athleticism to take over.

Defensively, the Skins have been playing better. This squad is as unpredictable as the rest of the team but showed good signs last week from Shawn Springs. He still got beat on the touchdown to Berrian but had two INTs on good position plays. However, in addition to the defensive backs the linebackers will have to increase their role in coverage. The Skins routinely get destroyed by good tight ends and even though he is questionable, Jeremy Shockey will play in the game and could hurt the Skins. As a whole unit, coverage will be paramount while still containing the man-child of Brandon Jacobs. The Giants have the most offensive weapons the Skins have faced since Dallas, and the defense will have to be one step ahead on every play in order for the team to have a hope of winning.

This is a very important game on both sides. The Skins need it to stay in the playoff hunt, especially since the Giants are ahead of them in the charts and in tiebreaking categories at this point. The Giants need this win to dagger the clawing Redskins and quash doubts about their inconsistencies. Bottom line, the Skins struggle to win back-to-back games and are 2-4 on the road this year. I don't see good things happening on their trip to the Meadowlands.
Redskins 13, Giants 27
-The Hokie

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