Redskins Pregame: 3 Keys to Victory Against the New York Giants

David Webber@@davidpwebber21Analyst IOctober 21, 2012

Robert Griffin III and the Redskins face a tall task against the Giants in Week 7.
Robert Griffin III and the Redskins face a tall task against the Giants in Week 7.Larry French/Getty Images

The Washington Redskins play their most important game of the season this afternoon when they travel to the Meadowlands for their first NFC East showdown against the New York Giants.

The Giants are favored by six points and enter with a 4-2 record, tops in the division. The Redskins are 3-3 and coming off of a thrilling 38-26 win against the Minnesota Vikings.

New York may be favored, but it figures to be a very competitive game. Here are three things the Redskins must do if they want to come away with a win and grab first place in the NFC East.


Stop the run early

It's no secret that Washington's passing defense is terrible—the Redskins rank dead last in the NFL, allowing just under 330 yards per game through the air.

But if there's something that the Redskins do very well defensively, it's stopping the run.

They rank eighth in the league in rushing defense, and have only had one legitimately poor game in that area (against the Rams). And against the Giants, stopping the run may very well be the key to stopping their offense.

Even in windy conditions, Eli Manning will get his yards. But if the Giants become one-dimensional because of Washington's front, the Redskins can use the predictability to their advantage. They won't be able to stop the Giants per se, but they'll definitely be able to force a couple of turnovers.

And we all know the No. 1 recipe to beat a superior team is to force them to give you the ball.

If the Redskins stop Ahmad Bradshaw the Giants' ninth-ranked running attack at the beginning of the game, the game could become very one-sided in Washington's favor.


Consistently gain yards on first down

As I said above, Eli Manning and the Giants will get their yards. But in the Redskins' case, it will behoove them to hold the ball on offense for as long as possible—not just to keep the Giants from scoring, but to keep them from getting in a rhythm.

The only way to do this is to gain yards on first down on a consistent basis. Why? Because despite scoring a shade under 30 points per game, the Redskins rank a dreadful 31st in the league at converting on third down. They convert on only 27.8 percent of their chances, and have derailed countless promising drives with a critical miss.

If Robert Griffin III and the 'Skins can get themselves into manageable second-down situations, they should be able to score at least 30 points with relative ease. If they're able to do it for the entire game, they could score upwards of 40.

Either way, the most important thing is keeping the Giants off the field. By avoiding a weakness instead of confronting in, the Redskins can do just that.


RGIII, do what you do

This goes without saying, but it's still the most important key of all. The Redskins are vastly improved across the board, but there's no question that RGIII has been the biggest improvement of all. And if Washington wants to beat a Giants team that might be the best in the league, it's going to be up to their star rookie to play his best.

The Giants have never seen RGIII in action, so the Redskins can severely damage their collective defensive psyche if he has a big game. Remember: these two teams meet again in Week 13 and a playoff spot or division title could very well be on the line. If RGIII plants that seed of doubt in the minds of the Giants defense, it could have huge dividends.

We've already seen that RGIII can single-handedly lead his team to a win. If the Redskins want to beat a superior team, their star needs to come to play with his "A" game. It will be the most pressure RGIII faces all season.

As Deion Sanders says on the NFL Network—RGIII, do what you do.