Ten Spot Preview: Redskins at Giants

John Keim takes a look at 10 burning questions going into tonight's game and offers his predictions.

1. Will the weather be a factor?

Not like it could have been. Today's forecast calls for rain and possible flurries late, but originally they were talking about a big snowstorm. However, the wind could be a problem, especially because Todd Collins does not have a big-time arm. The key for him, as always, will be timing. And if they go to a shorter passing attack, the winds might not matter.

2. What should we expect from Collins?

That's the question of the hour, day and week. And here's the answer: who knows? Collins was outstanding last week in relief. Was that a sign of something or an aberration? If it was a sign, then why wasn't he playing at the start of last season? But what we should expect are good decisions – if he's not under duress, that is. We'll learn an awful lot about him Sunday – if he's a vastly changed QB from 10 years ago or if the decision to play him as a backup was the right one.

3. What must the Redskins do with Collins in the game?

Protect the heck out of him. It's a bit of a dilemma because with Collins, the Redskins can use more five- and six-man protections thanks to his quick decision making. His hot reads are very good. But the problem is New York's pass rush, which is even better. If the Redskins leave the tackles one on one most of the day, they're asking for trouble. New York's secondary is banged up, so it's imperative to protect him.

4. What about the Heyer-Strahan matchup?

Um, a tough one, no? But Heyer will get plenty of help, which makes those 5- and 6-man protection schemes difficult. The real key will probably be on the other side with Samuels vs. Umenyiora. Samuels' play seems to have slipped a little and if he doesn't have a good game, then the Redskins will have problems. New York is also blitzing more of late, another complication with protecting Collins.

5. Did the off weekend help Washington?

The Redskins really do seem energized and refreshed after a couple torturous weeks. If they didn't have so many injuries, they would have the look of a team about to go on a little run. But what do they have left? It's hard to imagine the Redskins being able to go on a run, but we'll see more evidence tonight if they are or not.

6. Will the ground game get going tonight?

It better, given the possible conditions and the fact that they must keep the line off-balance. The Redskins' problem is that New York's quick ends often contain the edge very well against Washington. And the linebackers often make good reads against this unit. Linebackers have been playing closer to the line of scrimmage lately to stop the run. Look for more of the same tonight. The best guess is that Washington will have to run up the middle. The backside is just not getting sealed off enough to be consistent with the cutback runs.

7. What must the Redskins do defensively?

Pressure Eli. The fourth-year quarterback seems to be the same as ever: makes mistakes and plays with equal aplomb. But he's directed a couple good fourth quarters the past two games. However, he is very prone to mistakes under pressure. The Redskins know this and will do what they can to get to him. That means blitzing. Also, with the current secondary, that's probably the way to go.

8. Can they handle Plaxico?

The problem with Burress is that it only takes one big play from him to change the game. Remember the first meeting? Burress was silent for a while, then made a game-changing play. He hasn't practiced this season, except on two occasions, because of a bum ankle. But he's still having a great season. Shawn Springs must have a good game against him.

9. What's up with the linebackers?

London and Rocky have been too silent of late. They must start producing more. It's clear that the pounding has taken a toll on Fletcher and Rocky has been playing hurt, or at least dinged. It's made a difference. But the Giants will try to hurt them with tight end Jeremy Shockey and up the gut with Brandon Jacobs. That means the LBs must produce.

10. Will the Redskins win?

We'd love to pick them and see a late-season push for the playoffs. But the Giants pass rush, coupled with an immobile quarterback, scares us. And it just seems like the Giants always beat Washington in New York when the game matters. Giants 27, Redskins 20.


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