Saturday, December 28, 2013
W2W4: Giants vs. Redskins
By Dan Graziano
One more for the road, as the New York Giants will finally wrap their long-lost season with a home game against the Washington Redskins at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. It will be the last game in that building until the Super Bowl, which will come complete with weeks' worth of minute and detailed analysis. This game, which is justifiably of interest to far fewer people, comes with this analysis. A couple of things to watch in case you have absolutely nothing else to do and you're tuning in or going to the game Sunday:
Encore for Tuck? Defensive end Justin Tuck had four sacks when the Giants beat the Redskins in Week 13, but he'll have a different target Sunday. The Redskins benched franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III with three games to go in the season and replaced him with Kirk Cousins, who will be under center (or in the shotgun) for the Redskins in this one. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said last week that the team plans to pay extra attention to Tuck as a result of the success he had earlier in the month, and Tuck said he expected as much. But he's likely got to be more concerned with running back Alfred Morris than with getting to Cousins, as the Redskins will try to get the ground game going before doing anything else. Tuck has been strong against the run all year and is well aware of Morris' gifts, but he'd much prefer to spend his night teeing off on Cousins if given the choice. Tuck is eligible for free agency at season's end, and this could be his final game in a Giants uniform.
Other potential farewells: Tuck isn't the only pending free agent the Giants have. Mainstays such as guard David Diehl, wide receiver Hakeem Nicks and defensive tackle Linval Joseph all hit the market this offseason and could be wrapping their Giants careers. Players like Mathias Kiwanuka and Antrel Rolle, who have heavy cap numbers next year, also could be playing their final games as Giants. Obviously, some of those guys are more likely to stay than others, but their situations remind you that there's always more roster turnover than you expect in an offseason. With the Giants, every year means goodbye to players who have helped win Super Bowls. This year will be no exception.
Is this Eli's week? We've asked it pretty much every week, and this is the only one left. Giants quarterback Eli Manning is suffering through the worst year of his career, leading the league with 26 interceptions and is playing without top wide receiver Victor Cruz, who's out with a knee injury. All of that said, the Redskins allow 249 pass yards per game and are very vulnerable in the secondary. He'll need left tackle Will Beatty to do a better job than he did in Week 13 of keeping the Redskins' pass rush out of his face. And he might need Nicks to haul in his first touchdown catch of the season in the final game. But this game does offer Manning a chance to finish off the season on a high statistical note. Whether he can take advantage of the opportunity is another matter.