Few rivalries are as passionate and well publicized as those that exist in the NFC East. The Washington Redskins trip to MetLife Stadium to take on the New York Giants is as pure of a rivalry as there is in the NFL. Last year, the Redskins defeated the Giants in both of their meetings, despite the Giants eventually winning the Super Bowl. The rivalry has a different feeling this year, with Robert Griffin III now leading the Redskins potent offense, and the NFC East swimming in a pool of parity. This will be Washington’s first divisional game, while the Giants are already 0-2 in the division. The Giants need a win to maintain their lead in the NFC East. While Washington looks to go into New Jersey and hand the Giants a third divisional loss, while taking over the top spot in the East.
Giants Offense vs. Redskins Defense
Ahmad Bradshaw is a frightening questionable for this game. As Bradshaw goes, so do the Giants, who are 10-0 when Bradshaw rushes for 100 yards. The Giants will need Bradshaw against Washington’s stout 8th ranked rushing defense. If Bradshaw is unable to play Sunday, expect to see a healthy Andre Brown dominate the touches this week, with David Wilson only coming in to spell Brown. The real mismatch here is the Giants 5th ranked passing offense against the Redskins 32nd ranked passing defense. Washington has allowed more than 300 yards and a touchdown to every quarterback they have faced this season, except against Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman, who had 299 yards. Shanahan has tried multiple combinations of safeties and corners in an attempt to gain some kind of security in their secondary. Now Eli Manning will have a healthy Hakim Nicks to torture Washington with, along with Victor Cruz, who is tied for second in the NFL with 6 receiving touchdowns.
The Redskins linebackers are another deficiency in their passing defense, which should lend success to Giants tight end Martellus Bennett, who is second on the team in catches and touchdowns, with 20 catches for 3 touchdowns. The key to the game for the Giants will be to abuse the Washington secondary, while containing Robert Griffin III and forcing him to throw low percentage passes deep.
Redskins Offense vs. Giants Defense
Robert Griffin III is 3rd in passer rating with 100.5, and leading the NFL in completion percentage with 70.2%. If we project Griffin’s stats for the first 6 weeks over the entire season, he is on pace for 3,581 yards passing and 13 touchdowns with only 5 interceptions, in addition to 1,010 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns. These would be historic statistics, only Michael Vick has rushed for a 1,000 yards as a quarterback, and Vick only passed for 2,474 yards for the 2006 Atlanta Falcons.
Mike and Kyle Shanahan have built their offense on an option attack featuring Griffin using a quick option play action scheme and short crossing routes. This option play action happens faster than traditional play action under center, and causes linebackers to make hasty decisions. The Giants linebackers have been successful supporting a weakened secondary against the pass.
Linebacker Michael Boley leads team with 3 interceptions, but is questionable for Sunday’s game. Cornerback Prince Amukamura has been exceptional for New York, but they will be without safety Kenny Phillips as well, and Griffin will look to continue to complete short and intermediate passes at a high percentage, exploiting the Giants 21st ranked passing defense.
Washington will be without Pierre Garcon, and lack of open receivers may cause Griffin to scramble against the Giants first-rate pass rush. New York likes to move their superstar defensive end Jason Pierre Paul all over the defensive line, wherever he can get a one on one match, and the rest of the Giants outstanding defensive line will need to play smart to contain Griffin’s scrambling ability.
Opposing teams have had success running against the Giants aggressive pass rush, accounting for their 15th ranked rushing defense. Alfred Morris is changing all ideas of a Shanahan running back, and is 5th in the NFL with 538 yards rushing. The effectiveness of Griffin and Morris in the option has led to the Redskins 2nd ranked rushing offense. The key to this game for Washington will be Griffin and Morris running effectively to set up the play action, and if New York is without Bradshaw, not letting Cruz and Nicks to beat them.