1. Will London Fletcher play?
We doubt it. Fletcher hasn't done a thing all week and H.B. Blades has worked with the first team each day. Fletcher's starting streak of 130 straight games will end as he'll more than likely miss his first game since entering the NFL in 1998.
2. How about the others?
We're taking a guess now, but Andre Carter is not looking too good and Kedric Golston is very iffy as well. Neither has done anything all week and Carter was still moving very gingerly. Clinton Portis and Chris Samuels should be able to play.
3. How will this impact the Redskins?
In a huge way. The Giants have the top-ranked rushing offense in the NFL and the Redskins would be without their best linebacker, a starting end and a starting tackle who is playing very well. H.B. Blades is shorter – he's not 5-foot-10, unless he's wearing cleats with two-inch heels -- and not as fast as Fletcher. Blades is a tough guy who can make plays, but it's hard to imagine the Giants won't come right at him. And this also means Alfred Fincher will play on the outside. Fincher made the Redskins because he made plays this summer. He almost was cut because he too often was out of position. Proper run fits will be a major key Sunday.
4. How can the Redskins defense stop New York in the running game?
It will be difficult. They should be OK at left end when Demetric Evans is in the game with Jason Taylor on the right side. But it's the lack of depth at this spot that will be troublesome. Also, Taylor was destroyed in the first game by the tight ends and Evans is coming off his worst game. Evans is a nice backup, but that's it. So stopping the run will continue to be difficult. In reality, it's hard to say they have an edge anywhere in the front seven other than DT Cornelius Griffin and LB Rocky McIntosh. So the way they'll have to stop it is use Chris Horton in the box and hope their corners can play solid man-to-man coverage –which they can.
5. Is their secondary enough to slow this offense?
It can certainly make them one-dimensional and allow Horton to play up tight. The Redskins did an excellent job of disguising coverages in the opener and, with a healthy Shawn Springs, they can do even more of that. Remember, Springs did not play in the opener. The Redskins should have intercepted Eli Manning four times in that game. And you could see him pause a bit when he dropped back because the defense he thought he saw is not what he was eventually given.
6. Is the offense improved enough that it can dent the Giants' D?
They should at least be improved enough to do more than score seven points. Problem is, they have not proven they can generate much offense against good defenses lately. That's a problem. But the Redskins managed to get Clinton Portis 84 yards in the opener, though he was never a big threat in that game. The issue will be the passing game. Washington had some plays available that Jason Campbell did not execute well enough. So if he can hit a couple of those plays, where the line protects him, they should have opportunities.
7. Can they slow the Giants' rush?
It will be difficult. They must be balanced, obviously. They must move the pocket and they must slow the ends. That will be tough considering Chris Samuels is playing hurt and Justin Tuck will be matched vs. Jon Jansen. Jim Zorn can't expect his line to win their one-on-one battles all the time in this game. If he does, they'll lose big. The Giants will blitz the secondary more than their linebackers. The Redskins can hurt them on short crossing routes, which is how Santana Moss scored in the opener.
8. Will Sean Taylor's memory help them?
It might give them an initial kick after seeing him inducted into the Ring of Fame. But if that's what they're relying on they'll be in trouble. A sturdy run game and a top defense can destroy any emotional rush and the Giants have both. So we expect an initial rush, but if the Redskins win it's because they've executed well and caused turnovers. Remember, they made the playoffs last year as much because Todd Collins entered and directed the offense better than Campbell. Simple as that.
9. How can the Redskins win?
They have to play flawlessly in almost every area. We trust the defensive coaches enough to figure they won't give up a ton of points despite all the injuries. This group excels at ignoring injuries and expecting a high level of performance. And the secondary gives them a big chance. They also must improve dramatically in special teams. That's a major area of disappointment in almost every area. The punting situation is abysmal; Shaun Suisham is not even an average kicker (is that who he is or is it the impact of having three holders this season?) based on statistics and the coverages have been bad. If the Redskins are to win, this group must play its best game.
10. Will the Redskins win?
The only way they will win is if the Giants have a let down after beating five straight teams with winning records. That's a tough road. They also have a three-game lead in the NFC East so maybe they'll be feeling a little fat these days. But you can't anticipate that. What we know is this: the Redskins front seven is banged up; the offense has shown no ability to score a lot and the Giants are the best team in the NFC. The Redskins can afford a loss, even if it puts them temporarily behind in the Wild Card race. Giants 21, Redskins 14.
John Keim covers the Redskins for the Washington Examiner and is a contributing editor for Warpathinsiders.com. He has covered the team since 1994. Some of his other stories can be found at dcexaminer.com
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