"Sunday Night Football" in Week 13 offers a matchup between two division rivals, but the contest won’t mean much in the standings. The New York Giants are set to visit the Washington Redskins in a battle of two NFC East teams who are on the cusp of elimination from a postseason berth.
The Giants’ loss to the Dallas Cowboys put a severe dent in their hopes for winning the division. The Redskins have almost no chance of defending their division title, with an 3-8 record in their first 11 games. Now, the two teams will meet and try to avoid finishing the season in last place. The Giants are one game ahead of Washington and the two still have another meeting this year.
"Everybody's got a lot of pride in the NFL regardless of what your record is," Washington head coach Mike Shanahan said this week. "Everybody wants to win and I'm sure the Giants feel the same way."
Both teams were expected to compete for a playoff spot at the start of the year. However, the poor play of their quarterbacks has played a large role in the fate of both clubs.
Eli Manning has played like one of the worst quarterbacks in the league for much of the 2013 season. He’s second in the NFL with 17 interceptions. Even as he’s cut down on his turnovers, he’s failed to make many big plays. The two-time Super Bowl MVP hasn’t reached the 300-yard mark since Week Five. In New York’s crucial Week 12 loss to the Cowboys, Manning threw for 174 yards and completed just over 50 percent of his passes against one of the worst secondaries in football.
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New York’s defense struggled during the team’s six-game losing skid to start the season, but the unit has been much better of late. In their four-game winning streak, the defense allowed just two offensive touchdowns.
The Redskins haven't been able to contain opposing offenses all year, but their quarterback hasn’t helped their cause. Coming off his standout rookie campaign, Robert Griffin III hasn’t looked the signal caller that was poised to join the ranks of the elite players in the NFL. Many who have watched Griffin all season long have concluded that he still isn’t fully recovered from the ACL injury he suffered in last year’s playoffs. The same sentiment has been shared by an opposing defender.
"He's obviously a man and he makes his own decisions, but I personally don't feel he should be playing right now," said San Francisco 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks of Griffin to CSN Washington. "He's a man, he has the heart of a warrior and is going to go out there and play regardless of the circumstance. Everybody can see it. Everybody can see it. He shouldn't be playing."
On Monday night, Brooks and the 49ers dominated the Redskins, 27-6. Brooks sacked Griffin twice, and the quarterback had one of his worst games in 2013, completing 16 passes for 118 yards. Last season, Griffin might have made up for a poor passing performance with his legs. This season, though, he hasn’t been nearly the same threat on the ground. He ran four times for 27 yards, and has yet to rush for a touchdown in 11 games. He ranks 26th in passer rating and 19th in touchdown passes.
Despite the similar records of the two teams, and the game being held in Washington, the betting line at most Las Vegas casinos has the Redskins listed as one-point underdogs. They have covered the point spread in all three wins and failed to do so in every loss. The over/under of 45.5 is one of the lowest of Week 13.
Prediction: New York over Washington, 20-17