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The Washington Redskins play their bitter rivals the New York Giants in a must-win contest at FedEx Field in their bid to reach the playoffs.
Jay Gruden’s men bounced back from their surprising defeat to the Carolina Panthers by beating the Chicago Bears last week, giving them one last chance to secure a post-season berth.
The Giants would love to end their NFC East foes’ aspirations to compete deep into January and send them into the playoffs with momentum.
Washington have been inconsistent throughout the season, highlighted by their 8-6-1 record. At times the club have looked a potent force, especially on offense when they hammered the Green Bay Packers in week 11 of the campaign.
However, they’ve also endured disappointments such as their defeat to the Panthers, which makes their future in the 2016 campaign far from certain. Although, they are facing a Giants outfit with little to play for as they cannot improve their position in the fifth seed in the NFC Conference.
Gruden’s side will have to put in their best performance as New York will seize upon any invitation to eliminate the Redskins from post-season contention. Ben McAdoo’s men have the tools needed to send them home early with a strong defense and an offense with a propensity for big plays.
Given the importance of the fixture at hand and their display against the Giants earlier in the term, the Redskins might just have enough to secure the win backed at -305 with BetOnline.
The Redskins have endured an up-and-down season and their tie against the Cincinnati Bengals might be the perfect microcosm of their campaign. It was a game that they should have won, but could very easily have lost, so the tie was the fair result at Wembley Stadium.
Due to their inconsistent form and failure to seize on the initiative in many of their contests late in the season they probably don’t deserve a place in the playoffs, but should they get over the line and secure the sixth seed, they’re in and have a shot at winning the Super Bowl.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins has been a solid operator throughout the campaign, and will rightly earn a long-term contract in the off-season whether or not the club reach the playoffs.
The 28-year-old has produced some magical moments, and although he may not be in the upper echelons of signal-callers in the NFL, he has certainly proved that he is good enough to challenge for a divisional crown at the least.
The Redskins will need his best against a stout Giants defensive unit, who will challenge his ability passing downfield and on third down. Should Cousins have a solid afternoon along with wideouts Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson then it will place huge pressure on his opposite number Eli Manning to perform, which could open the door for Gruden’s men to earn the win.
Defensively, Washington have had their issues over the course of the term and are ranked 29th in the NFL. Fortunately for the home side the Giants don’t have the rushing game to capitalise on their weak run defense, while Manning has struggled on his throws downfield this season. However, the threat of Odell Beckham Jr looms large over Gruden and his team, with the 23-year-old boasting the ability of turning a game on its head on one play.
Therefore only a complete performance from the Redskins will be good enough to walk away with the win, and even that may not be good enough to secure a place in the post-season.
The Giants secured their place in the post-season, although not in the circumstances they would have hoped. McAdoo’s men put forward a meek performance in their defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles, with Manning throwing two back-breaking interceptions. The first was a pick-six to Malcolm Jenkins and the second allowed Ron Brooks to ice the game, fending off a desperate late comeback.
New York cannot afford to enter the playoffs on a two-game losing streak as it could set them up for a potential fall at the hands of a team like the Green Bay Packers in a trip to Lambeau Field. In their past two Super Bowl triumphs, the Giants have usually ended the season on a strong note to head into the wildcard round with confidence so McAdoo will be determined to do so and echo the success of his predecessor Tom Coughlin.
The Giants need Manning to return to the peak of his powers that he displayed in the 2007 and 2011 post-seasons, although he looks a shadow of his former self at the moment. He has lacked power and accuracy on his throws downfield and without a running game to alleviate the pressure on him, New York will need him to rediscover his touch immediately. Beckham Jr has bailed his quarterback out by taking numerous short passes for touchdowns, but he cannot do it all by himself and will need more support from his team-mates down the stretch.
On the defensive side of the ball the club have turned into one of the best units in the NFL led by their stout stance against the run, which ranks them seventh in the league. Their pass-rush lacks the vigour of their 2007 and 2011 counterparts, but Olivier Vernon has proven to be a solid pickup, despite the heavy outlay, notching 8.5 sacks. They have the talent to stifle the Redskins’ wide receiving corps, but will have to be on top form to get to grips with Jackson and Garcon.
The Redskins have to win this match to have any chance of reaching the post-season. They will be motivated and will leave nothing out there on the field, while the Giants on the other hand may look to preserve themselves for the wildcard round.
New York are not good enough to beat their rivals without their best effort, which may allow Gruden’s men to secure the win they need to oust either the Green Bay Packers or Detroit Lions from the playoffs and earn the sixth seed.
Washington Redskins to beat New York Giants
Sunday January 1st 2017 16:25 ET (21:25 GMT)
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