Tale Of The Tape: Washington Redskins At New York Giants
- QuarterbackThe Redskins have endured a disastrous season, but nearly punched the Dallas Cowboys in the mouth in Week 16. While they dropped a 24-23 decision, the Redskins came up with a monumental effort. Kirk Cousins was calm under pressure and he completed 21-of-36 passes for 197 yards with a touchdown. Cousins is a sharp leader who can find the soft spot in the defense.The Giants were unable to overcome a painful 0-6 start and they were never able to make a move in the weak NFC East. Quarterback Eli Manning has endured the worst season of his career and he has been overwhelmed by interceptions throughout the year. A win in the season finale won’t undo all the problems, but it will at least allow Manning to end his year on a positive note.
- OffenseAs bad as things have been for the Redskins this year, they have been able to run the ball effectively with Alfred Morris all season. Morris is a power back who can get low and push the pile, but he also has the feet to pick the holes and get into the secondary. Wide receiver Pierre Garcon is a reliable receiver who knows how to get open. Tight end Logan Paulsen can make tough catches on third-down plays.The Giants have not had the kind of consistency on offense that is normally expected from a team coached by Tom Coughlin. The Giants have struggled to come up with a ground game and they rank 28th in rushing as Andre Brown is not a major threat. Rueben Randle and Hakeem Nicks will take up the slack on the receiving front because Victor Cruz (knee) is done for the year.
- DefenseThe Redskins have played with excellent effort on the defensive side and rank 20th in yards allowed. While that might not sound impressive, the Redskins lack speed and overall talent. Linebacker London Fletcher will call it a career after this game, and he had an excellent year. Outside linebacker Brian Orakpo (groin) is the team’s best pass rusher with 10.0 sacks.The Giants started the season quite poorly on defense, but that unit has gradually picked it up this season. New York ranks 10th in yards allowed, and the Giants might have been able to save their season if they were just a bit more proficient at rushing the passer. Strong safety Antrel Rolle has had a remarkable season and is the team’s best tackler and cover man.
- Special TeamsThe Redskins have endured one of the most miserable special-teams seasons in recent memory. They have given up three punt returns for touchdowns as well as one kickoff return for a score. The Redskins rarely threaten on their own returns. Kai Forbath is an ordinary placekicker.The Giants have had big problems of their own with their coverage teams, and they have also given up three punt returns for touchdowns. The Giants have not gotten any big returns from Randle. Placekicker Josh Brown has had a consistent season and he will make the clutch kick if he gets the opportunity.
The Redskins came up with a big effort against the Cowboys, but it is not likely to be repeated in the season finale against a non-playoff team like the Giants. Look for New York to end the season on a two-game winning streak. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor