Sunday’s Week 12 contest between the New York Giants and Washington Redskins is much more than just a rivalry game. The team that leaves FedEx Field with a victory will be in first place, as well as the frontrunner to win the NFC East.
Both teams are coming off losses to undefeated teams. The Giants had a bye in Week 11, but they were narrowly defeated by the New England Patriots in Week 10, falling to 5-5. The Redskins are 4-6 after being blown out by the Carolina Panthers, who improved to 11-0 on Thursday.
The Giants won by 11 points when the two teams met in September, and New York is favored to sweep the season series with the Redskins. Washington is a three-point home underdog at Las Vegas sportsbooks, according to vegasinsider.com. The over/under is 47 points.
NFC East Up For Grabs
With no team in the NFC East entering Week 12 owning a record above .500, the division appears to be up for grabs. But the Giants and Redskins are clearly the top two contenders for the division title after the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys were both blown out on Thanksgiving.
The Giants have a chance to take a commanding two-game lead in the division on Sunday. Having already beaten the Redskins once, a victory this week would essentially give them a 2.5-game lead over Washington because of the tiebreaker. Dallas is out of the race with a 3-8 record and Matt Cassel at quarterback for the rest of the season. At 4-7, Philadelphia doesn’t look anything close to being a playoff team.
The Redskins were considered the biggest longshot to win the division at the start of the season, but a win on Sunday would put them in the driver’s seat to win the NFC East. It’d give them a better division record than the Giants, and they still have two games remaining against the Tony Romo-less Cowboys. A loss, however, would make it very difficult for them to make the playoffs.
Cousins Faces A Nemesis
Head coach Jay Gruden chose to start Kirk Cousins at quarterback over Robert Griffin to begin the season, and the decision has produced mixed results. Cousins has been terrific in a few games this season, though he’s been quite inconsistent.
Cousins has had a few standout performances in 2015. He helped the Redskins overcome a 24-0 deficit to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 7, and he registered a perfect quarterback rating against the New Orleans Saints in Week 10. But Cousins has had multiple subpar performances, posting passer ratings of less than 70.0 in half of the team’s games. One of those such performances came in Week 3 against the Giants when Cousins was intercepted twice.
Cousins is 0-3 in his career against New York, throwing two touchdowns and eight interceptions while completing less than 52 percent of his passes. The Giants are tied for second in the NFL with 14 interceptions, though their pass defense has looked awful at times. New York ranks 18th in opponents’ passer rating and dead last with 310 passing yards allowed per game.
Eli Primed For A Big Game
Eli Manning is having the best statistical season of his career, and he could be in for a big day on Sunday. The Redskins rank 12th in the league in yards allowed through the air, but a closer look at the numbers suggests that Washington has a bad pass defense.
Opposing quarterbacks are posting a 100.1 passer rating against the Redskins, ranking them 27th in the NFL and nine spots worse than the Giants. The Redskins don’t have much of a pass rush, ranking 27th with just 17 sacks. Washington hasn’t allowed a whole lot of passing yards because teams usually look to take advantage of their poor rush defense, which ranks 29th in yards allowed per carry. The Redskins’ secondary took a major hit on Thursday when cornerback Chris Culliver suffered a torn ACL in practice that will sideline him for the rest of the year.
The Giants don’t run the ball particularly well, so they should look to throw the ball against Washington early and often. Manning has 21 touchdowns and six interceptions this season, and his Week 6 performance against the Eagles is the only one that stands out as a terrible performance.
The Giants are the best team in the division, and they should start to pull away from the rest of the NFC East on Sunday. Their offense can be explosive at times, and New York should put up a lot of points against a below-average Redskins defense. Cousins might throw multiple interceptions, which would mean the Giants win comfortably.
New York over Washington, 30-20