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Eye on the Redskins: Breaking down the matchup
November 22, 2017 10:00 AM | Michael Eisen
Giants.com's Michael Eisen scouts the opposing offense, defense, and special teams:


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The Giants will try to win consecutive games for the first time this season when they face the Washington Redskins on Thanksgiving night in FedExField. Both teams played overtime games on Sunday. The Giants defeated Kansas City at home, 12-9, to improve to 2-8.

NEWS > Quick turnaround for Giants after OT win > Cover 3: Takeaways from Week 11 > Chad Wheeler steps up in first start PHOTOS > Know Your Opponent: Redskins Playmakers VIDEOS > CrossFire: Best gameplan to top WAS Washington wasted a 15-point lead in the final three minutes of the fourth quarter and lost in New Orleans, 34-31, to fall to 4-6. Last season, the Giants and Redskins split their season series with each team winning on the road. Washington won in MetLife Stadium, 29-27, on Sept. 25, while the Giants took the season finale on New Year's Day, 19-10. The Giants lead the regular-season series, 98-66-4.

What is the Redskins' biggest strength?

Their competitiveness and ability to hang in every game they play. The Redskins have been decimated by injuries on both sides of the ball, but they don't panic and never seem out of sync. That remained true Sunday, when Drew Brees and the Saints completed a few late passes to complete an improbable comeback. Five of Washington's losses have been to division leaders - Philadelphia (twice), New Orleans, Minnesota and Kansas City. The Redskins defeated the top two teams in the NFC West, the Rams and Seahawks, on the road. They were down 18 to the Vikings in the third quarter, but rallied to make it a one-score game. Washington makes enough big plays to always stay in a game, and they never feel they're out of it, no matter what the scoreboard says.

What player is key to the Redskins' offense?

Last week, we would have said running back Chris Thompson, a running and receiving threat. But he fractured his fibula against the Saints and is out for the season. That leaves quarterback Kirk Cousins as the obvious choice. Although all five of Washington's starting linemen have suffered injuries of various seriousness, Cousins has kept the offense moving forward. The Redskins are ranked 10th in the league in yardage per game (359.4), seventh in yards-per-play (5.7) and 11th in scoring (23.8 points a game). With shaky blocking in front of him in Seattle, Cousins led Washington on a game-winning, four-play, 70-yard drive in only 35 seconds. Cousins has thrown 17 touchdown passes and only five interceptions, and his 101.8 passer rating is the NFL's seventh-best.



What is the strength of the Redskins' offense?


Their ability to continue to move the ball despite missing many key players, both from a year ago and those who were on the team earlier in the season - a challenge that becomes more acute with the loss of Thompson. Their two 1,000-yard receivers from 2016 - DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon - play for other teams, and Washington has struggled to replace their production. Wide receiver Jamison Crowder is tied with Thompson with a team-high 39 catches but has not yet scored a touchdown. Tight end Vernon Davis has averaged 16.0 yards - a league-high for tight ends - on 33 catches, but has scored just once. Jordan Reed, Washington's other outstanding tight end, has missed the last three games with a hamstring injury.

Which player is key to the Redskins' defense?

Weakside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who has started all 106 regular-season games since Washington selected him in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft. His career numbers include 65.5 sacks and 21 forced fumbles. The Redskins' defensive captain, Kerrigan leads the team this season with 7.0 sacks. Middle linebacker Zach Brown, who is always in attack mode and leads Washington with 106 tackles (71 solo), deserves special mention.

What is the strength of the Redskins' defense?

Their ability to apply pressure. The Redskins really get after the opposing quarterback with Kerrigan, Preston Smith and Matt Ioannidis, among others. And they are more aggressive than they've been in the past in the secondary, where they play more man-to-man coverage. Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland are physical corners, and safety D.J. Swearinger has three interceptions.


What is the strength of the Redskins' special teams?

Kicker Nick Rose replaced Dustin Hopkins, who is on injured reserve after suffering a hip injury. Rose has kicked well - missing just one extra point and one field goal attempt on 23 total tries, including a 55-yarder - but this will be his first game in the national television spotlight. The Redskins are eager to see how Rose performs in a pressure situation.

Based on the scouting report, what must the Giants do to win the game?

Find a way to move and keep the ball against Washington's competitive defense. Despite their losses on offense, the Redskins still have big-play ability. They can jump on you and score 30 points quickly. But they can't do it without the ball. Time of possession will be important for the Giants.

Statistics you should know:

*Washington has scored five times (four touchdowns and a field goal) in its last eight opening drives and has 40 total points on its opening possessions this season.
*The Redskins have played 1,239 combined regular season and postseason games in their 86-year history - and this is their first Thanksgiving Day home game.
*Washington is 6-11 on Thursdays.
*Cousins has started 42 consecutive regular-season games, the second-longest streak by a Redskins quarterback since the 1970 merger (Joe Theismann started 60 straight from 1980-84).

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