Giants.com's Dan Salomone highlights three keys for the Giants to come away with a win Sunday:
With a postseason berth wrapped up, the New York Giants are traveling this weekend to face a Washington Redskins team that needs a win – so long as Green Bay vs. Detroit does not end in a tie – to clinch its own spot. And despite no chance of helping or hurting their No. 5 seeding, the Giants are playing to win on Sunday at FedEx Field.
"I mean that's what [players] do for a living," coach Ben McAdoo said. "They like to play games, games are fun, practices are work. Games are fun, that's what we do for a living and it's exciting. We have an opportunity to go play a division opponent, we're 7-1 at home, they knocked us off at home. It will be exciting to go down to Washington and play a game."
With that in mind, here are three keys to victory in the regular season finale:
LIMIT BIG PLAYS
Washington is second in the NFL with 74 plays of 20 or more yards, falling between Atlanta (79) and New Orleans (69). Quarterback Kirk Cousins is 370 yards shy of a 5,000-yard season while averaging 308.7 per game, second only to Drew Brees (323.9). In their Week 3 meeting – the Giants' only home loss of the season – five different Redskins had a reception of 20-plus yards, including a 44-yard touchdown by DeSean Jackson and another 55-yard score by Jamison Crowder. The Giants need to keep everything in front of them and clamp down in the red zone, where they have the No. 1 defense with opponents scoring on just 39 percent of trips inside the 20.
PROTECT THE QB
In their 3-4 scheme, the Redskins are stacked with a group of pass rushers that are tied with Seattle and Chicago for seventh in the NFL with 37 sacks. Ryan Kerrigan leads the way with 11 of them, while Trent Murphy has accounted for nine. Washington has notched at least one sack in every game this season. If the Giants can buy time up front, they could find success against a Redskins defense that is giving up 380.9 yards per game. Only the 49ers (408.4), Browns (397.8) and Dolphins (381.7) are allowing more this season.
The Giants gained 470 yards of offense and notched 24 first downs last Thursday in Philadelphia, but they went 1-for-5 in the red zone while turning the ball over three times in the game. Those are the areas keeping the Giants from reaching their 2014 and 2015 levels as they have fallen to 24th in yards (330.6) and 25th in points (19.4). Finishing drives was a common theme around the Quest Diagnostics Training Center this week as the team readies for the postseason. "The Duke's like a bar of gold this time of year," McAdoo said.