1. THANKFUL FOR FIRST PLACE
Despite not playing since Nov. 15, the New York Giants (5-5) managed to gain ground in the NFC East race over the last two weeks as they enjoyed their bye. Their upcoming opponent, the Washington Redskins (4-6), lost their last outing in Week 11, and both the Philadelphia Eagles (4-7) and Dallas Cowboys (3-8) fell on Thanksgiving Day. Now it's a six-game race to the finish line.
"It's as interesting to the Redskins as it is to us, no doubt, so it put things into perspective," coach Tom Coughlin said. "You've got to take care of your own business and we know that, we've been down that road before, so hopefully we'll be able to do that."
2. JEKYLL & HYDE
The Giants hit the road and will play on Sunday at FedEx Field, where the Redskins are 4-1 and have outscored their opponents, 135-91. It has been a different story on the road as Washington is winless in five games away from the comforts of home, including losses to Carolina and New England, the NFL's last two undefeated teams. Meanwhile, the Giants are 2-3 on the road with wins at Buffalo and Tampa Bay.
3. THE PRINCE RETURNS; WILL HAKEEM?
Keep an eye on these five players as the Giants face Washington
After missing the last five games with a pectoral injury, fifth-year cornerback Prince Amukamara practiced fully this week and is listed as probable for Sunday's game. In five starts before the injury, Amukamara had 34 tackles, seven passes defended, an interception, a forced fumble and fumble recovery.
"He's played in this league a long time," defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said. "He's a solid pro, we rely on him as one of our real good football players, and to have one on either side, that being DRC [Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie], I think there is a sense of security there for us."
Meanwhile, wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, who signed back with the Giants over the bye week, is working his way up to speed after not playing in a game since January. He has made progress, but "we'll see" if he is ready and suited up for Sunday.
"He had a good week of practice, caught the ball well, seemed to pick up with the signals and with the offense," Coughlin said. "So to what extent is he really prepared? Not going to give you percentages, but I think he's done a good job."
4. JPP, PASS RUSH KEEP BUILDIING
Sunday will be defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul's third game back from a serious hand injury. As the two-time Pro Bowler continues to build strength and comfort, the team is getting back defensive reinforcements at a key time. Meanwhile, the Giants are coming off a season-high three sacks after having just nine in the first nine games.
"We're getting back there as a group, it's not just about me, and we're getting back there as a whole group and that's what counts," Pierre-Paul said. "The sacks are going to come, but when you get back there as a whole group and disturb the quarterback, that's a great feeling."
5. O-LINE FORCED TO SHUFFLE
With left guard Justin Pugh (concussion) ruled out and center Weston Richburg (ankle) listed as doubtful for Sunday, John Jerry and Dallas Reynolds are the next men up, respectively. Jerry has started 63 games in his career, including two at left guard this season. Reynolds, who has been a backup for the Giants for three seasons, last started in the 2012 regular-season finale with the Eagles. The opponent? His current team, the New York Giants.
"We had a good week this week," offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo said. "Dallas came in, we haven't missed a beat so far up front. He does a nice job directing traffic for us. We'll need a big week from those guys this week. Washington does a nice job up front creating some havoc."
6. DONNELL OUT; GIANTS INJURY REPORT
TE Larry Donnell (neck), LB Mark Herzlich (quad), LG Justin Pugh (concussion).
Doubtful: Weston Richburg (ankle).
Questionable: LB J.T. Thomas III (ankle).
Probable: CB Prince Amukamara (pectoral), CB Leon McFadden (groin), DE Damontre Moore (hamstring), RG Geoff Schwartz (ankle), LB Uani 'Unga (neck).
7. WILLIAMS PROBABLE; REDSKINS INJURY REPORT
Out: B Chris Culliver (injured reserve), S Trenton Robinson (hamstring).
Questionable: CB Deshazor Everett (hamstring), LB Keenan Robinson (shoulder), CB Bashaud Breeland (hamstring/illness).
Probable: S Dashon Goldson (knee/hamstring/wrist), CB DeAngelo Hall (toe), DE Jason Hatcher (knee), S Jeron Johnson (illness), LB Ryan Kerrigan (hand), NT Terrance Knighton (migraine), C Josh LeRibeus (ankle/shoulder), RB Alfred Morris (rib), WR Andre Roberts (ankle), G Brandon Scherff (thigh), OT Trent Williams (knee).
8. CONFIDENT COUSINS
When coaches and players were asked about the difference in Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins between now and when they last played him, the answer is always "confidence." He is third in the league behind Drew Brees and Philip Rivers with a 68.3 completion percentage, including marks of 82.5 and 80.0 in his last two home games.
He also put up a perfect 158.3 passer rating in his last outing at FedEx Field against the New Orleans Saints. Cousins is as good as it gets when it comes to the play-action.
9. ONE DIMENSION
The best way to take away the play-action threat is to stop the run game, which has been up and down for Washington all season. In the Redskins' four victories, they averaged 142.0 yards on the ground. In the six losses, they put up only 64.2.
10. THE GREEN ZONE
Over the bye week, one of the Giants' primary focuses was the red zone, or the "green zone," as Coughlin calls it. The Giants have turned the ball over five times inside the 20-yard line. in addition to other mistakes that the offense will try to correct for the home stretch.
"When you turn the ball over five times down there, you've got problems," McAdoo said. "Nine penalties, dropped balls, missed throws, and mental errors. Our focus needs to increase the longer you drive the ball and that's a major factor. You have five turnovers, you lose five possessions and five opportunities to score right there off the bat. When the field shrinks and you have longer down and distances to go, it makes it a lot harder and a lot easier to call a defense. That's what we need to do, we need to focus on the details, chase the details and not touchdowns."