Three keys to victory for the Giants on Sunday against the Redskins:
1. Don’t let up on Adrian Peterson. The Redskins’ 33-year-old running back broke Herschel Walker’s record as the oldest player with a 90-yard rushing touchdown in NFL history in Week 13. His three runs before that went for a loss of two yards and gains of six and one. Peterson can pop one at any moment, like his 64-yard score that broke open the Redskins’ victory over the Giants in Week 8. The future Hall of Famer also had a seven-yard touchdown catch in that game and will be leaned on heavily this week given Washington’s injuries at quarterback. Mark Sanchez is set to start after Alex Smith and Colt McCoy suffered season-ending leg injuries.
“It’s still crazy because when I was in high school and college, I was an AP fan, that’s the crazy part,” second-year defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson said. “Just playing against him, you just know how explosive he is and you know he’s a little bit older now, he still has it. You have to come prepared just knowing you have to be gap leverage and disciplined out there just so you can make sure you can stop him.”
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2. TE Jordan Reed can’t get going. The biggest security blanket for a quarterback, let alone one making his first start in more than three years, is a tight end. Jordan Reed is the fourth-most targeted tight end in the NFL and leads the team by a wide margin in catches (54) and receiving yards (558). Meanwhile, Vernon Davis is another ageless player on the Redskins’ offense. The 34-year-old only has 19 catches, but they have gone for an average of 16.8 yards. The Giants, who have faced their share of top tight ends this season, will play without safety Landon Collins the rest of the way after the two-time Pro Bowler suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. Redskins coach Jay Gruden is aware of it.
“All safeties have to cover,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “If you play any form of man, then a safety has either got to cover in most cases a tight end or a [running back]; there aren’t many choices beyond that. So we asked [Collins] to do that, we play man like every other team, so he’s required to do that.”
3. Keep Eli upright. In their Week 8 meeting, the Giants gave up seven sacks and ran for only 37 yards against the Redskins. Both teams have changed significantly since that game. The Giants have found the right combination on the offensive line and have won three out of four games. They are averaging nearly 30 points in that span, while Saquon Barkley has rushed for 100 yards in three consecutive games. On the other side, Washington’s defense has allowed 134.4 yards on the ground as the team has gone 1-5.
“They’re still good on defense,” quarterback Eli Manning said. “They do a good job of getting a pass rush. Their front five are really strong. So, we’ve got to handle that. We’ve got to run the ball, and protect, and make sure we can get the ball out on time.”