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Could it get any better than this?
First game of the season. Division rivalry. Ten-year anniversary of September 11th. American pride. And the obvious excitement amongst players and fans after a lengthy and frustrating lockout.
Call me crazy, but the Giants don't appear nearly as threatening to me this season as they were last year. Sure, Eli Manning and the receiving corps of Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham are efficient, but the Giants are still without free agent running back Ahmad Bradshaw and receiver Steve Smith.
It's not that the offense is inept without those two, but the unit is definitely down a notch if the Giants can't come to terms with two of their best offensive weapons.
Enter the Redskins new and improved defense for 2011.
With a year under their belt as a 3-4 defense, in addition to quality free agent acquisitions, I think the Redskins could give Manning the most heat he's felt in Washington for some time.
The current cornerback tandem of DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson threatens for turnovers, and I'd expect a much heavier pass rush from Brian Orakpo, rookie Ryan Kerrigan and an improved defensive line that includes Stephen Bowen and former Giant Barry Cofield.
The obvious question in this game, as it will be in every game this season, is the play and poise of quarterback John Beck. The Redskins running game should be effective enough to keep the pressure off Beck, but he'll need to be able to manage the game against a stingy Giants defense with an impressive secondary.
With momentum, the home crowd and the overall release of being delayed for so long to play football, the Redskins could sneak one out in their home opener.