Following what was a very atypical offseason, with very few distractions, the New York Football Giants are to face brutal competition this regular season.
Playing in what is promising to be an even better NFC East division than last year, Eli Manning and the Giants will face a handful of extremely tough matchups throughout the upcoming season, which will define the final outcome of games, and ultimately, the season.
In each week, I’ll be delivering an outlook of the most important matchups the Giants will face the next game, offering suggestions to how the gameplan should be assembled.
New York Giants vs. Washington Redskins—Sept. 13
The Washington Redskins are penciled as the weakest team in the tough NFC East. However make no mistake, the weakest team in this division could, with only a half effort, win a title if playing for some other divisions in the NFL.
This rivalry game has always been marked, as any NFC East battle, for its brutality. The Giants will be eager to prove that last year's downfall is not something their fans need to worry about this season.
The main doubts are still related to the receiving group. With the loss of Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer, will Eli and his new toys get the job done?
The preseason showed good upside, but also plenty of mistakes on the receiving end, indicating that this unit is still a work in progress.
The Redskins on the other hand, as an improved team with great additions on the defensive side of the ball, are looking to improve on last year’s 8-8 record, and earn a playoff berth after two years away from the postseason. This team has a lot of fight in it.
Nevertheless, while on defense things look promising, the offense is relatively in turmoil. With owner Dan Snyder and head coach Jim Zorn trying to replace QB Jason Campbell this offseason, it will be interesting to see how Campbell is going to react.
Campbell has displayed good potential, and protects the ball really well, but with no help from his less than stellar O-Line, things on offense don't look as promising as they do on defense.
There is also the factor that the Redskins just signed former Giants' practice squad QB Andre Woodson. This move by the Redskins could be somewhat worrisome.
Woodson spent a year and a half learning the Giants' plays, and already stated he would help the Redskins in every way he can. This could play a factor in the play calling, as the G-Men will surely change their calls a bit to avoid Woodson's knowledge.
Addressing the "X's and O's", it's likely that the Giants will try to pound the ball through the ground, relying on the two headed monster called Jacobs-Bradshaw, and putting the new, improved, Redskins' D-Line to the test.
This leads us to Task One: stop Albert Haynesworth. It's as "simple" as that. Center Shaun O'Hara, and guards Snee and Seibert will have to handle this monster in order to make this offense move.
Another factor derived from this, is that while double teaming Haynesworth, the Giants must be careful with rookie stud Brian Orakpo at defensive end. David Diehl will have work to do.
One other factor in Haynesworth's game is that while in Tennessee, he moved a lot in the line. The Giants O-Line must be ready to make the proper line audibles and adjustments to cover him.
Looking at the Redskins' offensive weapons, on the other hand, besides Clinton Portis, who should be handled nicely by Antonio Pierce, just like last year, we can point out deep threat burner Santana Moss at WR, and mismatch machine Chris Cooley playing the role of H-back.
This brings up Task Two, and Task Three: Moss is a speed demon, and a constant threat to burn a corner. Corey Webster will be encumbered to stop him from being a game breaker, as he has done with WR's the entire 2008 season.
Cooley, on the other hand, is a bit trickier. As the Redskins work him in a handful of different positions, it's hard to determine one single player to cover him. One thing is certain, though, he is way too fast to be covered by a linebacker.
This is why this task involves almost the entire secondary, from safeties Michael Johnson and Kenny Phillips, to cornerbacks Aaron Ross and Kevin Dockery. It's important that Cooley is never lined-up against a linebacker, or we'll get burned.
The probable outcome here, is that the Giants' incredibly strong D-Line will get in Campbell's face all game, and the secondary could take advantage on that. However, as Campbell is a ball protector, and does not take many risks, there will be plenty of sacks.
With the Giants D-Line wreaking havoc every play, I don’t expect LB's Antonio Pierce, Danny Clark, and Brian Kiehl to have much difficulty stopping Portis, despite the fact that he is a very talented back.
On the Giants side, as I expect Jim Zorn to explore his good D-Line, and bring eight men to the box almost the entire game, much like the Eagles did to us in January. This can put the game on Eli Manning's arm.
If Zorn's strategy actually works, and the running game is hindered, I trust Manning to beat the 'Skins.
With plenty of blitzes coming, a lot of screen passes to our running backs and the speedy wide receivers can be decisive in this game. I also expect Kevin Boss to be involved, especially in the redzone.
Now, I’m not one to predict game results, but if the Giants are able to do the tasks I pointed out, there is little chance, in the way I see it, of losing this game.