Giants QB Eli Manning and Redskins QB Robert Griffin III exchange glares following the Giants win over the 'Skins on October 21. The Giants won 27-23.
It is more than just a game this Sunday for the Washington Redskins. The NFC East rival New York Giants are in town. Both teams enter the Monday Night Football showdown with high expectations following big wins in Week 12.
When the teams met in Week 7, the Redskins were ahead 23-20 with less than two minutes remaining in the game. Suddenly, Giants QB Eli Manning connected with WR Victor Cruz on a 77-yard TD pass to give the Giants the lead and eventually the win, 27-23.
The Skins were unable to pull out the victory and lost their first and only NFC East game of the 2012 season.
Much has happened since then, as the teams get ready for their second matchup on Dec. 3. Here are five keys to victory for the Redskins if they are to avenge their loss and remain in the NFC East battle.
RG3 has lived up to the hype in Washington and around the NFL. He has demonstrated poise and patience in the pocket. He has displayed pinpoint accuracy by placing the ball into the outstretched arms of his receivers.
He has completed 67 percent of his passes and is coming off consecutive four-TD games for the Skins. RG3 has thrown only four interceptions.
Griffin leads a Redskins offense ranked seventh overall in total offense (yards per game).
Any conversation regarding the Rookie of the Year distinction usually begins with a discussion of RG3, despite the Skins' 5-6 record.
He consistently makes big plays at crucial moments in the game, whether it is his ability to avoid tackles and advance the ball to the line of scrimmage or further downfield.
His presence on the field is noteworthy and significant week after week.
Led by rookie RB Alfred Morris, the Redskins rank second in the NFL with 162.9 rushing yards per game. Morris has four 100-plus-yard rushing games this season.
In all likelihood, Morris will surpass the 1,000-yard mark for rushing in a season against the Giants. He has rushed for 982 yards to this point. He has two fumbles in 208 carries through Week 12.
Morris has scored six TDs, averages 4.6 yards per carry and ranks fifth in the NFL in rushing yards.
When you add RG3's totals to Morris' rushing numbers, you begin to see how this tandem can move the ball on the ground. RG3 ranks 25th in the entire NFL in rushing and accounts for nearly 60 yards per game. He has 642 rush yards and six TDs heading into the Giants game.
In their earlier meeting against the Giants on Oct. 21, Morris and RG3 combined for 209 of the team's 248 rushing yards.
In their previous meeting with the Giants, the Redskins had four turnovers—an RG3 interception and three fumbles. Despite that poor statistic, overall the Redskins are plus-12 in turnover deferential this season, which is fourth-best in the NFL.
The Redskins have scored 76 points as result of takeaways this year. Skins CB DeAngelo Hall leads the team with four interceptions.
The defense's ability to cause turnovers certainly lends a much-needed hand to a squad which allows nearly 400 yards per game, ranking it near the bottom of the league.
In the Week 7 game, Giants QB Eli Manning threw a game-winning touchdown pass to WR Victor Cruz with 1:13 remaining in the game. Manning completed 26-of-40 passes for 337 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
Prior to the Giants' win over the Green Bay Packers in Week 12, Manning went three games without throwing a TD while throwing four interceptions.
If the Skins' defensive line can apply pressure and force Manning into ill-advised passes, the secondary will hopefully be able to add to its interception total on the season. Manning certainly has little to no ability running the ball, gaining only 20 yards rushing thus far in the 2012 season.
The Giants' Blackburn-Boley tandem combined for 21 tackles in the Skins' previous loss to the Giants.
LB Chase Blackburn was all over the field, making 11 tackles—seven of them solo—and even forcing two of the Redskins' fumbles.
LB Michael Boley had similar but not as impressive statistics, with five solo tackles and 10 tackles overall.
It is paramount to a Redskins victory to contain this pair of linebackers, which in turn will allow RG3 to work his magic and lead the Skins to another victory.
The Giants have a two-game lead over the Redskins overall and a one-game lead in the crucial NFC East. Both teams have rebounded since their bye week and are now set to square off on Monday Night Football.
Additionally, both teams are coming off big, big wins in front of a national television audience in Week 12. They both have playoff plans, should they continue their winning ways in the second half of the season.
I would say "somebody has to win," but we have already had a tie in the 2012 NFL season to make that declaration null and void. Should the Redskins beat the Giants this week, the Skins will be 3-1 and the Giants 2-3 in the NFC East. Both teams still play the Eagles and the Redskins conclude the season at home against the Cowboys.
I think the Redskins have the tools to construct a victory over the Giants and keep their playoff chances alive.