Both of these teams need a win. The Giants have played two divisional games and haven't yet managed to get an all-important first victory. The Redskins' divisional schedule is backloaded toward the end of 2012, but for them, it would be great to be able to get off on the right foot.
Last week, New York somewhat shockingly held the mighty San Francisco 49ers to a mere three points and powered its way to a win over the dwindling NFC favorite. The up-and-down Redskins, meanwhile, also pulled off a shocking victory of their own, outgunning the upstart Vikings for a 38-26 win.
Which one of these NFC East contenders will keep it rolling?
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
When: Sunday, Oct. 21 at 1 p.m. ET
Listen: ESPN Radio 980 AM, WWXX 94.3 and WWXT 92.7 in Washington, WFAN 660 AM in New York
Live Stream: NFL Game Pass
Betting Line (via OddsShark): Giants -7
What's at Stake?
It's hard to say the Redskins would gain a substantial lead in the NFC East if they win on Sunday, considering they haven't yet played a single divisional matchup, but a win on Sunday would certainly help.
The longer this season stretches, the more evident it becomes that this division is wide open. It's fair game for both the Giants and the Redskins, but neither of them has played with enough consistency to establish itself as the favorite.
For the Giants, a win on Sunday is somewhat imperative. They're 0-2 in the NFC East thus far in 2012, and with two straight division games coming up (they face Dallas again in Week 8), getting that first win now would take some of the pressure off as they continue their campaign to get back to the Super Bowl.
Redskins Injury Report (via CBSSports.com)
- WR Pierre Garcon (foot) missed last week's game
- DB Cedric Griffin (hamstring) missed last week's game
- DB Brandon Meriweather (knee) missed last week's game
- DL Doug Worthington (calf) missed last week's game
- DB Tanard Jackson (suspension) is expected to miss the entire 2012 season
Giants Injury Report (via CBSSports.com)
- DL Rocky Bernard (quadriceps) missed last week's game
- RB Ahmad Bradshaw (side) left last week's game
- RB Andre Brown (concussion) missed last week's game
- DB Kenny Phillips (knee) missed last week's game
- DB Will Hill (suspension) isn't eligible to return until Week 10
Fantasy Prospect to Watch: Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw
It's been an up-and-down season for Ahmad Bradshaw. Despite the fact that he currently leads the Giants with 92 rushing attempts for 449 yards and three touchdowns, he's been out of commission at times due to injury.
But last week against the 49ers, Bradshaw decisively proved that if he can stay healthy, he's very capable of being an impact player on this offense.
According to the New York Daily News' Ralph Vacchiano, Bradshaw became the first running back this season to rush for over 100 yards against the mighty San Francisco defense. Bradshaw finished with 116 yards and a touchdown just a week after posting 200 yards and a score against the Browns.
It's safe to say his fantasy owners are no longer worried about him, even after an injury-riddled and unproductive first three weeks. Going up against the Redskins' eighth-ranked rush defense, however, could present a whole new host of challenges for New York.
Especially considering the Redskins' pass defense ranks 32nd in the league, creating a huge opportunity for Eli Manning and the Giants' wide receivers, this may not be another week in which Bradshaw posts 100-plus yards.
Or maybe he'll keep surprising us.
What They're Saying
It took a little while, but the Redskins finally appear to be coming together.
Of course, the inconsistencies could continue, just the way they have all season up to this point, but Sunday's game was encouraging—especially from the perspective of the offensive line, according to The Washington Post's Mike Jones.
Jones writes that Washington's offensive line is on the rise, finally, because of "health and maturity." See last week's box score for evidence: One week removed from a mild concussion, Robert Griffin III was only sacked once and had one of his better games of the season, throwing for 182 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 138 yards and two more scores.
After the game, head coach Mike Shanahan told Jones:
There are a number of people that were worried about our offensive line. I was hoping that we would stay fairly healthy and I was hoping some of our young guys that we have—if we didn’t stay healthy—could mature very quickly. We have stayed fairly healthy, which is always a big advantage.
The Giants, meanwhile, haven't been quite as inconsistent as the Redskins. In fact, their losses have come, like clockwork, against divisional rivals. Dallas in Week 1. Philadelphia in Week 4.
So even though Sunday's big win over the 49ers was exciting, it wasn't as important as beating the Redskins and the Cowboys will be over the next couple of weeks.
As ESPNNewYork.com's Ohm Youngmisuk points out, dropping this matchup to the Redskins will have huge implications for the Giants, as they'll fall to 0-3 in the division with just three more opportunities to make up those games.
If the Giants really want to solidify themselves as contenders to defend their title, they have to ride the tidal wave of momentum they now have into these next two pivotal division showdowns with Washington and Dallas.
Redskins' Key Player
Washington won without him in Week 6, but Pierre Garcon would certainly take some of the pressure off Robert Griffin III and this offense. If he were healthy, you have to figure he'd be RGIII's primary weapon, but we haven't been able to tell yet.
Garcon has missed three of the last five games, and even in the two he got into, he registered just four receptions combined.
According to CBSSports.com, Shanahan said that Garcon isn't "anywhere near full speed," but the coach is hoping the wideout can return "sooner rather than later" to help this team string together some wins. Sunday would be a perfect time to do so: The Redskins need him in order to be able to compete with the passing attack the Giants are bringing to the table.
There's still no word on whether Garcon will be good to go on Sunday, but if he can, the Redskins are already that much better off.
Giants' Key Player
Hakeem Nicks finally returned to the field last week against the 49ers for the first time since injuring his foot on Sept. 16, but he wasn't quite as effective as some expected him to be, nor did he appear to be fully recovered.
Who needs this win more?
He managed to make three grabs for 44 yards on a day when the Giants certainly weren't lacking for offense, but hopefully, over the course of this week's practices, he gets a bit more up to speed. The Giants have a huge opportunity in Week 7 to take advantage of Washington's weak pass defense and Nicks could really help them capitalize.
Nicks only got five targets last week, but Eli Manning needs him against Washington.
The Giants boast the league's fifth-best passing offense and the Redskins boast one of the NFL's worst passing defenses. That isn't a recipe for success for the Redskins, who risk the misfortune of getting put into a corner early and having to claw their way back with their passing game—presenting plenty of opportunities for Washington's O-line to fall apart and for RGIII to make mistakes.
A sense of urgency will finally kick in for the Giants. They know they can't afford to drop this one.