THE SCOUTING REPORT
WHAT: Giants (9-6) vs. Washington Redskins (6-9).
WHEN: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. at FedEx Field, Landover, Md.
SERIES RECORD: The Giants lead the series 90-61-4. They have beaten the Redskins five straight, and eight of the last nine.
LAST MEETING: Dec. 5, 2010. The Giants won that 31-7 at the New Meadowlands Stadium in the middle game of a three-game winning streak. Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs combined for 200 yards rushing and scored two touchdowns each, while the defense recorded four sacks against Donovan McNabb.
INJURIES: Giants – C Shaun O'Hara (Achilles and ankle), DE Dave Tollefson (knee), and WR Hakeem Nicks (toe) are out. CB Corey Webster (ribs and knee), S Brian Jackson (knee), and DT Chris Canty (neck) are questionable. RB Ahmad Bradshaw (ankle), S Antrel Rolle (ankle), DE Justin Tuck (chest), and DE Osi Umenyiora (knee) are probable.
Redskins – WR Brandon Banks (knee), NT Anthony Bryant (elbow), S Reed Doughty (head), S Macho Harris (hip), LB Brian Orakpo (groin), C Casey Rabach (shoulder and knee), CB Carlos Rogers (calf), RB Ryan Torain (ribs), and WR Roydell Williams (foot) are questionable.
WHY THE GIANTS WILL WIN: Above all else, the Giants need to win this regular-season finale to have a chance at the playoffs. They'll also need Green Bay to beat Chicago, a game that kicks off simultaneously with this one. But unless the Giants come out of Washington with a win, it won't matter what happens in Green Bay. That alone should provide plenty of emotional juice. The last time these teams met, the Giants ran the ball. With the weather colder and the FedEx grass field likely softer, the Giants will have to do that again. Also necessitating the run will be their reliance on Derek Hagan, Michael Clayton, and possibly Devin Thomas as their second, third, and fourth wide receivers thanks to the absence of Hakeem Nicks. Not having C Shaun O'Hara should not be a great problem, since he didn't play the first time around. In fact, the offensive line shuffle that has Rich Seubert at center, David Diehl at left guard, and Shawn Andrews at left tackle had become a rather effective run-blocking unit. This should be an interesting game for the defense in that the Redskins are a dysfunctional team in utter offensive disarray right now. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan has demoted McNabb to third string and put their fortunes in the hands of journeyman Rex Grossman, who is more than capable of throwing interceptions at the wrong time. Their high-priced defensive tackle, Albert Haynesworth, was suspended for the final four games of the season. Leading rusher Ryan Torain (115 carries, 563 yards, three TDs) could be slowed by injuries. And the receivers, led by Santana Moss (71 catches, 884 yards and four TDs) have been anything but impressive. If Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Barry Cofield can get behind a shuffled Redskins line, Grossman could throw picks by the bushelful. Or at least give Pro Bowl safety Antrel Rolle and cornerback Terrell Thomas a chance at one or two turnovers, anyway.
WHY THE GIANTS WILL LOSE: The Redskins are nothing to speak of, but they did break a four-game losing streak last week with a 20-17 overtime win over Jacksonville that effectively knocked the Jaguars from playoff contention. They might be playing just well enough to get past a sinking Giants squad that has allowed 73 points in its last 68 minutes of football. The Giants appear worn out, and a loss here would give them yet another losing December at 2-3. As faulty as Grossman might be, Eli Manning has people scratching their heads over his league-high 24 interceptions. Of course, he also has a career-high 30 touchdown passes, but his receiving corps is dreadfully short at this point. He'll again rely on Mario Manningham for big-play potential, but Manningham will probably be covered by fast cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who has six picks this year. And that running game that produced 200 yards the last meeting has eaten just 190 yards over the last two games. Forty-one turnovers doesn't bode well for anyone, though, and it could well be that category which determines the outcome.
PREDICTION: The thought here is that Tom Coughlin will keep his job regardless of the final score, or whether he reaches the playoffs or not. The question is, do the Giants have it in them at this point to pull it together one last time? The answer is no. One disaster, like the 28-point implosion against Philadelphia, is a sad event. Two, when adding last week's blowout against Green Bay, is a trend. The team's arrow is pointing decidedly downward, and all the scoreboard watching of the Bears-Packers game won't keep the Giants from losing their third straight, 24-10.