By Paul Dottino
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The Giants have every right to feel good about last weekend's demolition of the San Francisco 49ers -- which is why coach Tom Coughlin gave them off on Monday to enjoy it.
However, it's been all business around the locker room since they got back to practice on Wednesday. There are no reminders needed to tell the team (4-2) that it is 0-2 in the NFC East with the division-rival Washington Redskins on deck Sunday.
The Redskins (3-3) possess the NFL's most dynamic rookie in quarterback Robert Griffin III, the only passer in league history to throw and run for a 70-plus yard touchdown in the same season. And if that's not enough, the Giants need to remember how they were swept by a subpar Redskins team last season -- nearly costing them a playoff spot.
So here are this week's three matchups to watch:
1. Giants' front seven vs. Redskins QB Robert Griffin III: Why the entire front seven? That's easy. RGIII has 4.4 speed, shoots through an open lane like a lightning bolt and is faster than most linebackers and defensive backs -- meaning you don't want him to break containment.
The Giants' pass rushers held their lanes in San Francisco and made sure they would not get hurt on a scramble. They must do the same this week. Washington runs three versions of the option and rolls Griffin outside a lot -- the quicker the Giants cut him off to the outside the hash marks, the better off they will be. LB Jacquian Williams has been an effective spy in the past, but he will not play because of a knee injury. LB Michael Boley, LB Spencer Paysinger, LB Keith Rivers or speedy S Stevie Brown might be a good alternative, should the Giants decide to use a spy.
2. Giants QB Eli Manning vs. Redskins CBs DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson: The Redskins have allowed 15 touchdown passes, tied for the worst in the NFL. They attempt to cover up their secondary's deficiencies with plenty of exotic blitz packages, hoping to keep quarterbacks off balance.
Manning and his receivers must be sure to read their keys correctly and not get duped into throwing an easily-intercepted pass. In addition, the quarterback must be patient. He cannot be afraid to throw it away or check down and save the big gainer for another time. The Redskins would much prefer Manning force the issue through the air, giving them a chance at creating turnovers: Washington is tied for third in the NFL with a plus-nine turnover ratio, and they've run back three interceptions for touchdowns.
3. Giants running backs vs. Redskins ILB London Fletcher: Fletcher is as smart as they come -- you will not fool him after 15 seasons in the league. He's still a tackling machine, even if he may have lost a half-step from sideline to sideline. He knows everybody's assignments, and the Giants believe he makes Washington's entire defense play faster because he makes sure his teammates are mentally into the game. RB Ahmad Bradshaw is nursing a sore foot, although Andre Brown (concussion) will be back to share some of the workload, and rookie David Wilson appears to be gaining some of coach Coughlin's confidence, so he likely will receive a few carries.
Prediction: Giants 34, Redskins 23
Prediction record vs. the spread: 3-2-1
What is your prediction for this Sunday, Giants fans? Give us your scores in the comments section below...
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