The New York Giants had to sweat to make it into the playoffs in their previous two championship seasons. It appears that won't be the case this year, but they can change that by making things interesting if they lie down and let the Washington Redskins beat them Monday night.
Of course, the Giants probably do want to, you know, win the game—even if it might make them uncomfortably comfortable over the final four weeks.
So, assuming that's the case, we've got a suggested plan of attack on both sides of the ball.
Don't Get Stubborn on the Ground
The running game was clicking pretty well against Green Bay, but so was everything. Yes, the intention should always be to find balance, but the Redskins are very good at stopping the run and Ahmad Bradshaw isn't healthy.
There's a chance Bradshaw will have nowhere to run. New York has to remember that it's a pass-first team anyway and go after a weak Washington secondary, hoping that the line can hold up against an inconsistent but dangerous pass rush.
Target Josh Wilson
DeAngelo Hall is probably going to deal with Cruz with help in the slot and Cedric Griffin will likely have assistance with Nicks outside. Griffin handled Nicks well in the Week 7 meeting, but both players were coming back from injury. Both are playing better now, and that'll be a good matchup.
What the Giants have to do is find more ways to get Cruz up against Wilson, who fared okay against him in the slot last time before blowing his coverage on the 77-yard game-winning touchdown.
Hall has become the go-to slot presence for this Washington team lately and he's playing well right now.
Another option for the Giants would be to make Rueben Randle more of a primary target out wide, especially if he ends up drawing Wilson. Plus, that's something the 'Skins might not be expecting.
Don't Be Afraid to Blitz a Little
The Giants only blitzed about a handful of times against the Packers and still had a ton of success because of the success the line was having with Mathias Kiwanuka putting his hand back in the dirt for the majority of his snaps.
But with the secondary still a question mark and with the Redskins' line giving up far too many clean shots on Griffin lately, New York would be smart to send extra guys on at least a few extra, unusual occasions Sunday.
It's all the Giants can do to hope to frazzle a red-hot rookie quarterback, especially if they overload on either side with tackles Trent Williams and Tyler Polumbus either hurting, struggling or both.
These blitzes have to be well-timed and well-executed, because Griffin can make that secondary pay with Pierre Garcon now healthy, but I believe some calculated risks will be necessary Monday night.
Use All of Your Safeties
I truly believe that the Giants would be smart to send Corey Webster to the bench, relying on Prince Amukamara to rove against Garcon with safety help. At this point, Antrel Rolle is perfectly capable of dealing with Josh Morgan so long as he has some assistance.
But the Giants are so thin at corner that they'll continue to use Webster as an every-down cover guy despite his struggles.
So with that in mind, the Giants should at least consider keeping Rolle, Kenny Phillips and Stevie Brown on the field together as often as possible.
They took our suggestion and did exactly that last week, and it worked extremely well. The Giants would be best served once again activating five safeties and giving them all snaps in varying situations. It's a good way to make things extra complicated for a rookie quarterback and it also gives them a chance to get their best players on the field as often as possible.
This safety group is very deep and most of them can cover quite well.