NFL Preview - NY Giants (4-7) at Washington (3-8)
By Shawn Clarke, Contributing NFL Editor
(SportsNetwork.com) - Although they're not mathematically eliminated from postseason contention, it's safe to say playoff chances for the New York Giants and Washington Redskins have gone by the wayside.
The NFC East rivals hope to save face Sunday night at FedEx Field.
Washington is a disappointing 3-8 on the season and has lost three in a row, including Monday night's 27-6 drubbing at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers in the first of three straight games in D.C. Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III had a rough go of it and threw for a season-low 127 yards with no touchdowns and an interception.
Griffin had five touchdown passes to one interception in his previous two games and head coach Mike Shanahan was asked if the young QB has regressed from last season.
"No, I don't believe so. I think I shared with everybody that we tried to do things a year ago that gave him the best chance to be successful and things that he could do very effectively that I thought he was very good at," Shanahan said. "The drop-back passing game takes some time. It doesn't happen overnight. Robert is getting better and better every game. He feels more comfortable with it and we're putting him through a lot of situations."
The Redskins, who had a total of 190 yards on Monday, haven't lost four in a row since a six-game slide in the middle of the 2011 season and hope to get their offense going again this week. Getting running back Alfred Morris off to a strong start could help and he ran for a season-low 52 yards on 14 carries versus the 49ers. He had rushed for 90-plus yards in five straight games and hasn't scored since Nov. 3.
Morris, though, is 30 yards shy of 1,000 for a second year in a row and believes the Redskins are better than advertised.
"It's just frustrating because we know we're better than this," said Morris, who has 593 rushing yards and two TDs in the last six games. "We're better than what we're putting out there on the field.
"If I had an answer to the problem, I would tell you. We don't have an answer. We're the same team, we have talent, we know we're better than our record says. It's just frustrating when you put it together and can't get a win."
Washington is 0-3 in division play and just 1-7 against the NFC.
The Giants, meanwhile, are a game ahead of the 'Skins in the division with a 4-7 record and had their season-high four-game winning streak come to an end with Sunday's 24-21 loss to the rival Dallas Cowboys.
Perhaps some trash talk before the game jinxed the G-men, whose winning streak came on the heels of an 0-6 start. The Giants rallied to tie the game at 21-21, but the defense allowed Tony Romo and the Cowboys to march into New York territory to set up Dan Bailey's game-winning 35-yard field goal.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning passed for 174 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions and said there's still hope to make a run at an NFC East title.
"I think we know we have to win these next five games to give ourselves a shot," Manning said. "It's still just a shot, nothing is guaranteed, but there's still hope and we know all we can do is worry about us trying to win each game and win the next game and that's what we're going to do."
Andre Brown ran for a career-high 127 yards on 21 carries and has two 100-yard games in three contests this season. Rueben Randle led the receivers with 64 yards on three receptions, while Victor Cruz caught just two passes for 27 yards. Cruz hasn't found the end zone since Sept. 29, but owns 12 receptions for 235 yards and a TD in last two meetings with Washington.
Hakeem Nicks was inactive versus the Cowboys and is questionable this week. Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said Nicks is receiving treatment on his abdominal strain. Nicks has yet to score a touchdown this season.
The Giants will host the Redskins on Dec. 29 at MetLife Stadium and split last season's series. They lead the all-time series with Washington, 92-64-4, and have won 10 of the past 14 meetings between the NFC East foes. New York suffered a 17-16 loss in Landover last Dec. 3.
Coughlin is 13-8 lifetime against the Redskins and Shanahan owns a 4-6 mark against the Giants.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Look for both the Redskins and Giants to establish their ground attack behind the powerful legs of Morris and Brown. Morris is one the top young backs in the league and can both take it up the gut or around the ends.
Morris talked about getting a win Sunday and how it would lift the spirits.
"It would definitely help us with momentum to get a win. We just (need to) continue to fight and get that win," Morris said. "I don't feel like our wheels are coming off.
"Every day we have to show up and put this behind us and just continue to work for it and just take it one game at a time."
If it wasn't for Brown on Sunday, the Giants probably would have been blasted by the Cowboys. Brown has been refreshing to the offense and gives Manning less stress knowing he doesn't have to win it with his right arm.
Brandon Jacobs added 75 yards on nine carries for the Giants, whose 202 yards rushing were the most in a loss since 244 on Dec. 17, 1995 at Dallas. The Giants averaged 6.7 yards on their 30 rushing attempts.
"I just think that our offensive line was just out there playing very physical, and we were pushing guys back," Brown said. "And we went out there, found easy holes, and hit the holes."
Meanwhile, the Giants are hoping Nicks will return to stretch the field and need Cruz to start scoring again. It's been a while since Cruz was able to do his traditional salsa dance after finding the end zone.
The Redskins could find it tough to pass on the Giants on Sunday. The Giants have allowed only two players (DeSean Jackson, Jordy Nelson) to gain 100-plus yards and are tied with five other teams for the third-fewest total in the league.
The Giants can still make something happen in the NFC East and are no stranger to winning late in the season. They need this win badly in order to keep pace in the standings and help from around the league.
Arizona has a good shot at knocking off Philadelphia, but the Cowboys have an advantage versus Oakland on Thanksgiving.
Either way, New York has to convert on third down and Manning must continue to protect the football. The Giants are 37-12 in games in which Manning is not intercepted and will pull off a close one even if he turns the ball over.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Giants 20, Redskins 13
11/28 11:37:22 ET