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Will the Giants defeat the Skins?

Before I make a prediction on tomorrow’s game, let us sift through some relevant topics. 

In order for the Giants to be victorious, they have to establish their running game. If they can control the clock and not turn the ball over, the Giants should win this game.  According to Profootballweekly.com

The Giants want, and need, to get their one-two RB punch going. The Redskins are perfect medicine. Last season, Washington allowed 127.6 rushing yards and nearly one rushing touchdown per game. The last four times that Bradshaw has faced the Redskins, he has averaged 60 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown plus 2.25 receptions for 14 yards with zero touchdowns. Over that same span against the ’Skins, Jacobs has averaged 62.5 rushing yards and 0.75 touchdowns.

These past rushing statistics appear to give the Giants an advantage.  But this is a new year.  And Washington has revamped their defense.  Former Giant stalwart Barry Cofield is now with the Redskins. Even though Cofield will be playing a new scheme (3-4 defense), he believes this Washington defense is going to be formidable in 2011. 

“I say I have the advantage because they’ve had the same scheme since I’ve been in the league, I’ve been seeing that offense and hearing Eli make his calls and things like that,” Cofield said. “This defense with the Redskins is only a year old and there are so many new pieces I don’t think they’re going to know what to expect.”

Despite having new starters Baas and Beatty on the offensive line,  Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride will not deviate his scheme or the line calls.  This is a concern.  From what Cofield stated, there are going to be obvious tells.  Based on the Giants’offensive formation and package, one can infer, the Redskins will be able to anticpate a play call.  Let us hope Gilbride uses deception to throw Cofield and the Redskins defense off balance.  But Gilbride has a proven track record of being predictable.  If the Giants running game is snarled, Eli and the pass offense is going to struggle.
Fox analyst and Hall of Famer Troy Aikman elaborated on Eli Manning’s decision making. In this interview, Aikman describes Eli as a very streaky quarterback.  When he is on a hot streak, he can throw a football as well as anyone.  On the other hand, when things are not clicking, he struggles. Aikman pointed out, last season, tipped balls were the result of Eli throwing the ball high in traffic in the middle of the field.  Since he does not take sacks, Eli unloads a ball to a receiver who is not expecting it coming his way.  And he throws off balance.  Throwing off balance leads to these tipped balls too.  

Washington’s defense will focus on stopping the run.  If their defensive line can control the line of scrimmage, this will give them the upper hand. Especially since Cofield is very familiar with the Giants offensive scheme and line calls. This will give the Skins an advantage. Once the Giants are in obvious passing downs, the Redskins will blitz up the gut.  By utilizing a Double A Gap blitz, the Redskins will create confusion along the Giants offensive line.  

You can see one particular stroke of Johnson’s imagination in any game, on any weekend, and you’ll see it in the playoffs too: the Double A Gap Blitz. Two linebackers blitz—or threaten to blitz—from positions on the left and right shoulders of the center (the A gaps), trying to get immediate pressure on the quarterback via the shortest route and forcing the offense into a series of quick and potentially dangerous decisions. “Every team in the league has a Double A Gap Blitz,” says Eagles offensive tackle Winston Justice, “and it’s a hard thing to block.”

Force Eli into making dangerous decisions.  Like Aikman discussed, Eli has a propensity to throw a football high in traffic in the middle of the field.  Subsequently, the Redskins can create turnovers and give their offense a short field.

In order for the Giants to win this game, their defense has to play very well.  Right now, the Giants defense has been decimated with injuries.  Osi, Thomas, Goff, Sintim are out.  More troubling is that star DE Justin Tuck may not play. Prior to the start of the year, what once looked like a probable win for Big Blue is now uncertain.  Remember last season at FedEx Field, DE Osi Umenyiora was a major reason why the Giants prevailed.  His two sack/strips which were deep in Giants territory thwarted two Redskins scoring drives.

On what will be a very emotional day (the 10 year anniversary of 9/11), this is going to be a tough NFC East match up.  I like the Redskins because

1. They are playing at home.

2.  Under Tom Coughlin, the Giants are 0-2 opening a season on the road.  In 2004, the Eagles thrashed the Giants.  And in 2007, the Cowboys won in a shootout.

3.  The Giants have defeated the Redskins SIX consecutive times.  The last time the Redskins defeated the Giants was in late 2007.  The law of averages are in the Redskins favor.

4.  The Giants special teams will play a pivotal role in this game.  Although the Giants have some new players like Mark Herzlich which will improve this unit,  retaining special teams coach Tom Quinn was a mistake.  Expect more blunders and botched plays from this feckless special teams unit. 

5. Turnovers.  Once again, this is going to be the death knell for this team.  Magnanimous Eli Manning, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Mario Manningham cannot continue their inexcusable behavior.  They must hold onto the football. 

Washington 24 Giants 13