|NFC East Rivals Square Off in D.C. When Redskins Host Giants|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Wednesday, 26 November 2008 12:55|
NFC East Clash
Washington, D.C. - The New York Giants' last five games were all against teams with winning records, but those opponents did nothing to slow down the defending Super Bowl champions.
The Giants will try to extend their winning streak to seven games Sunday in what should be an emotional environment when they visit the NFC East rival Washington Redskins, who will induct the late Sean Taylor into their Ring of Fame in a pregame ceremony on the one-year anniversary of his death.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Giants –3.5 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 78% of bets for this game have been placed on Giants –3.5 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
New York (10-1) is tied with Tennessee for the best record in the NFL, thanks in part to an offense that has produced a league-high 329 points - including 177 in the first four games of November. After a win over San Francisco on Oct. 19, the Giants' last five victories have all come against playoff contenders.
"Well, we have known that we have had a tough schedule," quarterback Eli Manning said. "We knew that five weeks ago - that it was going to be a tough road ahead of us and we were going to be playing a lot of good teams. And it is going to continue."
While the Giants have opened up some distance on the rest of the NFC East, Washington (7-4) is in the mix with a number of teams for a possible wild-card berth. The playoffs, though, will only be one incentive for the Redskins this Sunday.
Taylor was shot in his Florida home last Nov. 26 and tragically died a day later, but Washington used the inspiration of his memory to finish 2007 on a four-game winning streak and gain a playoff berth. He will become the 43rd person to be inducted in the Redskins' Ring of Fame.
"I think this is a great organization and I think Sean did a lot for this organization and I think Mr. Snyder (owner Dan Snyder) is doing the right thing in honoring Sean for everything that Sean brought to this organization and the effect that he has had around the world," Washington running back Clinton Portis said.
After New York faced Arizona's prolific passing offense last Sunday in a 37-29 victory, stopping Portis will be critical to its hopes this week. Portis leads the league with 1,206 yards rushing, including a 143-yard effort in last week's 20-17 win at Seattle.
"He is having a great year obviously," Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce said. "Whatever they ask him to do, blocking, catching the ball out of the backfield, running the ball, he is doing everything for them, an MVP-type season for him and we can't let him have a MVP performance on Sunday."
Slowing down the Giants' vaunted running game will be just as important for Washington. New York leads the league with 164.9 rushing yards per game, although running back Brandon Jacobs missed last week with a knee injury.
Giants coach Tom Coughlin has indicated Jacobs will return to practice Thursday, although his status remains uncertain. Wide receiver Plaxico Burress is still being bothered by a hamstring injury that limited him to a few snaps last week, and is day-to-day.
Washington's injuries may be more critical since they are on the defensive side of the ball, and will affect how well the Redskins can contend with New York's ground game. Linebacker London Fletcher, who has started 130 straight games, is battling foot injuries while defensive end Andre Carter (plantar fasciitis) and defensive tackles Kedric Golston (bone spurs) and Cornelius Griffin (shoulder) also may miss this game. Linebacker Marcus Washington is already sidelined with a sprained ankle.
Redskins first-year coach Jim Zorn indicated that his club may be forced to use more nickel packages due to the lack of depth in its front seven, a less than ideal option against the powerful Giants.
"It doesn't change what we do," Manning said. "If they want to go nickel, that is fine. They still have to line up; we still have to line up across from them. It doesn't matter - it doesn't really change anything for us."
New York began its title defense with a 16-7 win over Washington on Sept. 4 in the NFL season opener, as neither team scored in the second half. Portis had a per-carry average of 3.7 yards - his second-lowest of the season.
"We really didn't do a lot," Portis said. "It was a new offense, the first game of the season, they came out, and we got behind early. We kind of got away from the running game."
This is the first of three straight games against NFC East foes for the Giants, who are 3-0 versus the division and intent on moving closer to gaining the conference's No. 1 seed after being forced to go on the road for last season's Super Bowl run.
"We realize what our goals are and we realize that just one of them is making the playoffs," defensive end Justin Tuck said. "I don't think guys are going to start thinking they are better than what they are because we know what we had to go through last year as far as the playoff run and it isn't going to be any different this year. Hopefully we get a lot of home games instead of having to travel."
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Posted: 11/27/08 11:57PM ET