Sunday, October 30, 2005

Redskins - Giants Shootout at the Meadowlands Corral

If the Redskins play their game, they win this one. If the Redskins avoid turnovers, they win this one. If the Redskins force turnovers on the Giants side of the field, they win this one. But, if they fail to do these things, they lose this one. If the game is close, they lose this one.

The coaching upgrade in the NFC East is paying off. The three have-nots are legitimate contenders to the Iggles crown. The Iggles remain supremely confident, as they deserve to be. That said, they are looking over their shoulders. They lost their first contest against Dallas in Dallas. For the first time in five seasons, an NFC East game not involving the Iggles is significant. The Redskins - Giants game is a contest for first place.

The Skins are contending because of players Joe Gibbs picked: Mark Brunell, Santana Moss and Clinton Portis. I'm not disregarding the defense, but they've been good for several seasons under several excellent coordinators. Except for Portis, the typical fan (that would be me) just didn't see what Gibbs saw in the other players. In Mark Brunell version 2005 we see a savvy, mobile, accurate quarterback who finds the open player and releases the ball quickly to him. In Santana Moss, we see a speedy receiver with tacky hands who turns little catches into the big gains rare in Redskinland since Gary Clark and Art Monk. It's Moss who forces defenses to alter their strategy, thereby opening opportunity for the other receivers and for the ground game. Every week they get better executing Gibb's East Coast smashmouth offense: power running; ball control; field position; two big plays per game.

The Giants have the mirror offense. Tiki Barber may be the finest back in the East; rugged, goes inside or outside; can catch. Plaxico Burress makes big plays. Always be aware of where he is. If he plays today (looks like he will be OUT), the defense could get burned. Eli Manning improves with every game. He can get it done.

I don't buy the weak Giant defense argument. They get turnovers. They know how big this game is. The Giants, and all the NFL, know how important Wellington Mara was. The Giants have a special incentive to play well today.

So the Skins must play Gibbs ball today and keep the New York offense off the field. If the Skins give up a turnover on their side of the field. Manning and company are good enough to beat you with it. The Redskins defense has given up one big play or long drive each game since week two. You have to factor that. The Skins need a ten point lead or better going into the last two minutes to be safe.

Redskins by five.

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