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Eye on the Washington Redskins: Breaking down the matchup


*'s Michael Eisen scouts the opposing offense, defense, and special teams: *

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –The Giants will attempt to win their third game, their second at home, and their first in the NFC East when they conclude their forgettable 2017 season Sunday against the Washington Redskins in MetLife Stadium. A five-game losing streak has left the Giants with a 2-13 record. The streak began with a 20-10 Thanksgiving Night loss in Washington. The Redskins defeated Arizona and Denver in their previous two games and at 7-8, will try to finish their season with a .500 record. The Giants lead the regular-season series, 98-67-4.

What is the Redskins' biggest strength?

Quarterback Kirk Cousins. The sixth-year pro has started every game and has played well all season. He is ranked in the top 10 in every important statistical category but interceptions (he has thrown 10). Cousins is eighth in completion percentage (65.0), seventh in passing yardage (3,935) and sixth in both touchdown passes (27) and passer rating (98.5). He has put together an impressive resume as he prepares to enter free agency following the season.

What player is key to the Redskins' offense?

In the interest of avoiding repetition, we won't say Cousins. The nominee is wide receiver Jamison Crowder, who torched the Giants last month with seven catches for 141 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown. Crowder has been targeted by Cousins 97 times, or 31 more than any other Washington receiver. Crowder's 63 catches are 20 more than runner-up Ryan Grant. The Redskins' best playmaker, Crowder is a downfield threat who consistently comes through on third down and in the red zone. The Giants must find a way to limit his impact.

What is the strength of the Redskins' offense?

Their passing game. Coach Jay Gruden has designed a creative scheme that has challenged defenses all season. Washington lines up its personnel in numerous formations to try to confuse its opponents. The looks change, but the routes are largely similar. As noted, Cousins has had success slinging the ball, most often to Crowder. But the aerial attack is not a two-man show. Tight end Vernon Davis remains a reliable target in his 12th season. He is third on the team with 41 catches and has scored three touchdowns. Rookie running back Samaje Perine, who rushed for 100 yard and caught three passes vs. the Giants, is a reliable receiver.

Which player is key to the Redskins' defense?

Weakside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who has started all 111 regular-season games since Washington selected him in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Kerrigan has a team-high 11.0 sacks, his second straight double-digit sack season. Any team that does not pay special attention to the always-disruptive Kerrigan is going to pay a price.

What is the strength of the Redskins' defense?

Their ability to harass opposing quarterbacks, from both the outside and inside. In addition to Kerrigan – who had two of the Redskins four sacks in the first meeting - linebacker Preston Smith has 8.0 sacks. Ends Matt Ioannidis and Anthony Lanier apply consistent pressure and have combined for 9.5 sacks. Linebacker Junior Galette had a 13-yard sack of Eli Manning last month.

What is the strength of the Redskins' special teams?

Punter Tress Way has a 45.5-yard average and has dropped 29 kicks inside the 20-yard line. Washington has the NFL's second-ranked kickoff coverage unit, allowing an average of just 18.7 yards on 24 returns.

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

Slow down Washington's pass game and give Manning time to throw the ball. That did not happen in the first meeting, when the Redskins had seven quarterback hits in addition to their four sacks.

Statistics you should know:

*Washington is the only Giants opponent this season that had both a 100-yard rusher (Perine) and a 100-yard receiver (Crowder).
*Kerrigan's 7.0 sacks of Manning is the highest total among active players.
*Cousins will be the first Redskins quarterback to start 16 games in three consecutive seasons since the NFL expanded to a 16-game schedule in 1978.
*Cousins' next touchdown pass will be the 100th of his career.

A look at the key playmakers from the Redskins roster heading into Week 17

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