Sunday, January 02, 2011

Washington will close the season as Giant-Killers

By every measure of logic, the New York Giants should have their way with the Washington Redskins when the teams meet Sunday at FedEx field. But there's a fly in the ointment. The mindsets of these two teams are moving in opposite directions since their Week 13 meeting. Back then, the Redskins were in continuous shock by Shananigans and the Giants were flying high at 8-4. New York's future was in their hands.
Both New York and Washington have gone 1-3 since then. Now, the Giants are in shock and the Redskins stabilized with holes plugged by hungry young guys playing for the chance of a lifetime.
Last week, the Jaguars, without RB Maurice Jones-Drew, were seven point favorites over the Redskins and lost. Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw are disgustingly healthy for the Giants, yet New York is only 4 point favorites over a six-win team they beat eight of the last nine times they've played. The gambling sharps have figured out that the Redskins are going to give you a game with the outcome in doubt until late fourth quarter. The Giants perhaps are not sure of their post-season even if they win. They could be one-and-done even if they make the postseason.
Washington still has to show that it can stop elite runners. Anthony Bryant has shown himself to be a capable nose tackle. December is a tad late for DC Jim Haslett to discover that. OLB Brian Orakpo's probable return helps, although DE Adam Carriker and ILB London Fletcher have bigger roles in run defense. If I were New York OC Kevin Gilbride, I would pound the ball at Washington and not allow QB Eli Manning to throw more than 10 times.
The Redskins offense is all about Rex Grossman. Washington's receivers do seem to find openings in Kyle Shanahan's offense. Head Coach Mike Shanahan is testing the trade-off of Donovan McNabb's mobility against Grossman's better reads and slightly better accuracy to extend drives. Grossman turns the ball over more than McNabb, with more of those turnovers turning into points for the other guys.
Grossman has one good game and one so-so game in his audition as starter. His tie-breaker is Sunday. He has no interest in handing the ball off to a rusher. He wants to throw and Shanahan wants him to throw. The risk for Washington is that they don't allow the rushers much more than 10 attempts against the Giants.
It's odd, but the Redskins have more incentive to win than the Giants. I say the Redskins will win this game by three. My Magic 8-Ball disagrees ("My sources say No.")