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Scouting Report: Eye on Giants vs. Redskins

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants will attempt to win their second consecutive game and sweep their season series with Washington for the second year in a row when they visit the Redskins Sunday in FedExField. Both teams are 3-11. The Giants defeated Washington on Sept. 29 in MetLife Stadium, 24-3, and can clinch third place in the NFC East with a victory in the rematch. Last week, the Giants broke their nine-game losing streak with a 36-20 defeat of the Miami Dolphins. Washington fell to Philadelphia, 37-27, its second loss in a row and sixth in the last eight games. The regular season series between the two teams started in 1932, and the Giants lead, 101-68-4. The Giants are the only NFL franchise with 100 regular-season victories against another franchise.

Washington has 16 players on injured reserve, including Pro Bowl guard Brandon Scherff; running back Derrius Guice; wide receivers Paul Richardson, Jr. and Trey Quinn; tight ends Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis; cornerback Jimmy Moreland; and linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who recorded 11.5 sacks while playing in the last 17 Giants-Redskins games since 2011. The Redskins' best offensive lineman, left tackle Trent Williams, has not played a down this season because of contract and other issues. Starting cornerbacks Quinton Dunbar – who intercepted two passes vs. the Giants in September – and Fabian Moreau have hamstring injuries. Dunbar was inactive last week. Their top three available corners are Aaron Colvin, who has a left leg injury, Danny Johnson and Josh Norman. Washington this week added defensive backs Kayvon Webster and Coty Sensabaugh (who played for the Giants in 2016) to its roster.

Rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who made his first career appearance against the Giants, will make his seventh start. The Redskins also have a different head coach than they had in the first game; Bill Callahan replaced Jay Gruden after the team's 0-5 start.

What is the Redskins' biggest strength?

Despite their poor record and numerous injuries, this team plays with a lot of energy and enthusiasm on both sides of the ball. They deploy a lot of young players who are trying to make a positive impression. On offense, they have 15 players, including seven starters, who are 25 or younger. All six of the wide receivers and three tight ends on the current roster fit in that category. Although progress has been difficult to detect because they've won just three games, the Redskins are going all out and improving each week.

Which player is key to the Redskins' offense?

Running back Adrian Peterson might deserve this as a career achievement. Last week in Philly, he rushed for 66 yards to increase his total to 14,102, one more than Hall of Famer Curtis Martin and good for fifth place on the NFL's career list. In his 13th season, Peterson has double-digit carries in all but two games this season and has rushed for a touchdown in each of the last three games.

Despite all that, Washington's most consistent producer is wide receiver Terry McLaurin, a serious contender for the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. McLaurin, who didn't play in the first meeting, is Washington's chief offensive weapon. His 51 receptions, 833 yards and seven touchdowns are, respectively, 14, 473 and five more than any other receiver on the team. McLaurin affects all three levels, is averaging 16.3 yards a catch, has three 100-yard games (including one last week, when he had a 75-yard touchdown) and will be a challenge for the Giants' young secondary.

What is the strength of the Redskins' offense?

Washington has a very good play action game. Because Peterson is a threat to gain chunks of yardage each time he runs the ball, the defense must commit to stopping him. But when it gets too focused on that task, Haskins will fake a handoff and throw to McLaurin or another rookie, Kelvin Harmon, who has replaced Richardson in the lineup. Steven Sims, Jr. has filled in for Quinn as the slot receiver. Chris Thompson is an effective third-down back who is second on the team with 37 catches.

Which player is key to the Redskins' defense?

Kerrigan has occupied this spot for years but is now idle with a calf injury. The dominant players are currently linemen Jonathan Allen and Matt Ioannidis. We'll give the nod to the latter, because Ioannidis has 4.0 sacks in the last three games, raising his total to a team-leading 8.5. He also tops the defense with 10 tackles for loss and 15 quarterback hits and is sixth with 56 stops (36 solo).

What is the strength of the Redskins' defense?

There are two and they go hand-in-hand: the ability to get pressure on the quarterback and to take the ball away from the offense. Washington is sixth in the NFL with 42 sacks. The Redskins also have 21 takeaways and a plus-two turnover differential, an anomalous statistic for a team that is eight games under .500. Look no further than the first meeting between these teams. Washington forced four turnovers but lost by 21 points. The Redskins have 15 takeaways in the 10 games since then. Against Philadelphia, linebacker Ryan Anderson – who replaced Kerrigan in the starting lineup - had two sacks and forced a Carson Wentz fumble on each of them – and he caused another fumble as well. Daniel Jones and the Giants will need to focus on taking care of the ball.

Which player is key to the Redskins' special teams?

Tress Way was announced this week as the punter on the NFC Pro Bowl team. His ability to consistently pin opponents deep in their own territory makes him the defense's best friend. Way leads the NFL with a 49.4-yard gross average and is tied for second with a 43.6-yard net average. He has placed 26 of his 70 punts inside the 20-yard line and has only three touchbacks.

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

Bottle up Peterson so the Redskins' play action is less effective. Offensively, value the ball and prevent the strip sacks that can turn a game.

Statistics you should know:

*The Redskins have become a tough second-half team. In their last 10 games, they have allowed an average of just 9.6 points after halftime.

*The Giants lead the NFL with an 11.2-yard punt return average. Washington is 31st with a 4.4-yard average. The Giants are also first in the league in kickoff coverage, allowing an average return of 18.4 yards. The Redskins are 28th, at 24.7 yards.

*Peterson scored on a 10-yard run last week, his 110th career rushing touchdown. That tied him with Hall of Famer Walter Payton for fourth on the NFL's career list.

*McLaurin is the third rookie in Washington history with at least 50 catches, 750 yards and five touchdowns, joining Charley Taylor (1964) and Gary Clark (1985).

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