1. Are the Giants really this bad?
I doubt it. Their offense is explosive, which gives them a great opportunity to stay in games and makes them a dangerous opponent. If you're not careful, they can post decent numbers. But their defense is dreadful and they have holes all over the place. Maybe if Michael Strahan rounds into shape they'll improve. The other problem is that fellow end Omi Umenyiora is battling a hip injury. Until those two can help, this D will struggle. But what we also know is that the Giants are ''buried'' every year before they play the Redskins -- or so it seems -- and they end up winning. That said, I thought the Giants would finish fourth in the NFC East, so their start isn't all that shocking.
2. Are the Redskins really this good? Exactly how good is that?
They're 2-0 and from an outsider's perspective, they've beaten a dreadful Dolphins team in overtime and they beat a team with a quarterback still not recovered from knee surgery who has no rhythm. So it's hard to say how good they really are. That said, it's the signs they've shown that have raised eyebrows: the defense has returned; the quarterback makes enough plays to win and the running game remains strong. Add it up and it's a good formula for winning. They aren't yet world beaters, but a win Sunday would say a lot. Why? Because they're expected to win and sometimes that's the hardest time to do so, especially for a team coming off a 5-11 season.
3. How will the right side of the offensive line fare?
I think they'll do OK. Todd Wade will be matched against Strahan and by all accounts he's been mediocre -- at best -- in the first two games. Strahan might get a sack, but if Wade can handle him on the ground, then it'll be a good day for the offense. One sack does not a good game make. As for Jason Fabini, it'll be interesting because now he's on film at guard. This is stil an adjustment for him and in camp he at times seemed overmatched against the DTs. My guess is the Redskins have their fingers crossed with him at guard.
4. What should the Redskins do offensively?
Well, obviously run the ball well. But you can say that every game. What they have to do is attack the back seven. They're dreadful; their corners are very average and the safeties are worse. They tackle poorly and take bad angles. There's a reason they're so dreadful on third downs. The Giants will do what they can to prevent big plays, but if they can't stop the run, they must walk a safety up and if they do, look out. The Redskins have done a good job capitalizing on man coverage. Middle linebacker Antonio Pierce remains solid, but one man alone can't carry the back.
5. Who could have a big receiving game?
We're staying with our men Chris Cooley and Santana Moss. Gee, what a shocker. New York has struggled to cover tight ends in the first two games. Of course, they really haven't covered anyone, based on the 621 yards passing they've allowed in the first two games. Cooley will either have a big game or he'll open it up for another receiver to do so. The Giants must double someone and if it's Cooley and Moss, then hello Antwaan Randle El. Or Brandon Lloyd. Ha, ha. Just kidding.
6. Who should the Redskins worry about on defense?
The Giants pose a few problems. Running back Derrick Ward is off to a good start and has size and speed. He's not Tiki Barber, a guy who's going to run all over this D. But Ward is capable, especially if you can only devote seven in the box. The rest of the passing game is dangerous, from Plaxico Burress (if he plays; he's questionable with an ankle injury) to tight end Jeremy Shockey (10 catches, too many drops) and receiver Amani Toomer (still rounding into form). They can handle all that, if they can bottle up Ward with seven in the box. I always worry about Toomer, because he's the sort of double-move guy who always seems to hurt the Skins corners. But he's not yet the same.
7. What's the key matchup defensively?
There are a couple, but the one we'll highlight is safety Sean Taylor against QB Eli Manning. Taylor has done a good job roaming the middle of the field and his presence -- and speed -- can force QBs elsewhere. But Taylor has to play a strong center field Sunday because New York will test them deep. By all accounts Eli has improved, though his stats after two games mirror those after two games last year -- and he clearly did not have a great season. The reason this matchup could be important, too, is that the Redskins likely will blitz Eli more than a few times, which means Taylor often will be the lone safety. The other thing Washington will do contradicts some of that strategy, which is force Eli to be patient. You do that by playing lots of cover 2.
8. What's impressed you most about Jason Campbell?
His poise is good, but he also does things that don't show up in the passer ratings. His rating isn't good, but one thing I've liked is that he senses when it's a good time to run, yet doesn't rely on running the ball. It's a fine line for a young, mobile QB. Because Strahan and Umenyiora are capable rushers, Campbell's ability to slide and move will be key. He'll run for at least one first down in a crucial spot and he'll also complete a couple passes after getting out of the pocket. He's still a work in progress, but he still makes plays.
9. What should they worry about offensively?
Pierce's ability to dissect what play is coming. That's how the Giants have stopped their offense the past two years. Also, the Giants' ends played very well in the run game last year, taking away the edge. Fullback Mike Sellers and the tight ends must have good games blocking for this to change. Sellers against Pierce is a good matchup, particularly on the isolation plays.
10. Who will win?
I know the Giants have played the Redskins as a wounded team in the past and won. This year is different. The Giants are not just wounded, they're playing poorly especially on defense. That used to be their foundation. At some point they will improve because they have enough talent along the line to do so. But they don't have that talent elsewhere. The Redskins are playing with a lot of confidence and are focused. I like that players aren't trotting out the I told you so lines. Instead, they know that when they've done that in the past -- or when they've started to look ahead just a bit -- they've lost. I don't sense anything but resolve right now. New York has too many issues right now to spring the upset. Redskins 24, Giants 17.
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