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Giant Mission: Eliminate Division Rival Washington from Playoff Contention

(Photo: The Associated Press)

(Photo: The Associated Press)

Meaningless game? Not likely.

Sure, the New York Giants are locked in as the No. 5 seed in the NFC Playoff bracket, regardless of Sunday’s outcome against the Washington Redskins. However, the Giants are not treating this as a break. The Giants have the opportunity to enter the playoffs with momentum. Not only that, but the opportunity to eliminate Washington from playoff contention.

The Giants have posted a 7-1 record at home this season. Their only loss at home comes from one team, Washington. The Giants played a penalty and error-riddled game, culminating in a Manning interception to Washington linebacker Su’a Cravens, which led to a 29-27 loss to Washington.

Entering FedEx Field, the Giants have revenge on their mind and want to defeat Washington on their own turf.

“We have an opportunity to go play a division opponent,” said Giants Head Coach Ben McAdoo. “…we’re 7-1 at home, they knocked us off at home. It will be exciting to go down to Washington and play a game.”

A surprise entering this matchup is the lack of fuel to the fire on the “rivalry” between Odell Beckham and Josh Norman. Even in talking to the media, the Beckham-Norman storyline has seemed to have fallen to the back of the line. In their previous matchup, Beckham posted seven receptions for 121 yards, with Norman covering him the majority of the game. The lack of talk could be due to the both sides downplaying the rivalry in post-game press conferences in Week 3. But the playoff implications has put the “rivalry” on the back burner.

“It’s always been about a bigger picture than two players on the football field, in my mind,” said Beckham. “It’s something that was kind of created. It stuck and it has been run with ever since then. We’re going to go out and do what we’re supposed to do. We’re not worried about anyone else besides the 53 on this team.”

One of the main keys the Giants have to focus on is Washington’s deep pass threat. Kirk Cousins has the arm strength and ability to throw the ball down the field. Cousins has thrown 384 completed passes out of 571 attempts (67.3%) for 4,630 yards, 24 touchdowns, ten interceptions and owns a 98.6 QB rating. It helps when Cousins has receivers who have the ability to catch the deep pass.

Cousins has Pierre Garcon (75 receptions, 945 yards, three touchdowns), Jamison Crowder (65 receptions, 831 yards, seven touchdowns), and DeSean Jackson (54 receptions, 971 yards, four touchdowns) at his disposal. The defense is ready for what Washington’s pass attack is willing to throw at them.

“They will test us deep and we know that,” said Collins. “…and we as the safeties have to help the guys to make sure that those plays get shut down.”

The Giants know that the deep pass threat has burned them in their first matchup in Week 3. But now the defense has grown since then. Janoris Jenkins turned this season into a Pro Bowl season for him during Week 5 against the Packers with two interceptions. Landon Collins emerged as a top defensive ball hawk during their Week 7 matchup in London against the Los Angeles Rams, securing two interceptions, and one for a touchdown. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Olivier Vernon, Jason Pierre-Paul, Damon Harrison, and the list goes on. Washington is going into this week knowing the challenge the Giants defense will present for them.

“They’ve proven week-in and week-out that they’re a top defense in this league,” said Cousins. “…very good players, a very good coordinator, a great scheme and they just seem to execute it very well. I’ve got a lot of respect for them and they’ll be as good as anybody we face this year.

Now is the weekly “the Giants offense needs to step up in their upcoming matchup,” briefing. This will be shortened this week, mostly because everything has been said in previous articles. The potential is there, but there is no production. Entering the last week before the playoffs, the Giants offense needs to step up (I know I said it again).

“There’s been times where we’ve looked great, there’s times when we’ve really hurt ourselves,” said Giants Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan. “…there’s times when we’ve really hurt ourselves, haven’t had the consistency we need, whether it’s turnovers or the penalties, across the board. So really, a consistent, complete game would be great for us to see on Sunday.”

The Giants already have one division rival in the playoffs, the NFC East Champion Dallas Cowboys. A rival is a rival, no matter the circumstance. Why have two division rivals in the playoffs, when the Giants have the opportunity to eliminate Washington in the last week of the regular season? With the chance to enter the playoffs with momentum, by eliminating a hated rival, nothing could be sweeter for the Giants.

“You don’t want to keep playing the same team over and over,” said Collins. “You just want to play them those two times that you have to play them and then keep it moving…”

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Scott Rogust
General Editor and New York Giants Lead Writer.
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