A lot is potentially at stake when Washington takes the field at FedEx this afternoon to face the New York Football Giants.
Once again, the burgundy and gold find themselves in the position of controlling their own destiny. A position they squandered most two weeks ago, in another poor prime time showing, versus the Carolina Panthers. Provided they find a way to finish the deal today, they will essentially punch their ticket to the playoffs for the second consecutive season (the first time that’s happened since the ’91, ’92 seasons).
Having rebounded from the Carolina loss with a convincing 41-21 win on the road versus the Bears, Washington at least looks the part of a squad ready to take advantage of their last opportunity to setup play beyond week 17. Kirk had a solid day throwing the ball, with three touchdowns (two on the ground), and the team got a combined 178 yards and two scores from the trio of Kelley, (Mack) Brown and Thompson. The defense picked off Chicago’s Matt Barkley five times and got consistent pressure from second year man Preston Smith, for the first time all season.
In a game that clearly means more to the home team, one has to like the Skins chances ahead of today’s 4:25pm tip. At 10-5, a win or loss by the G-men has zero impact on their seeding for the postseason, firmly slotted in the five hole in the NFC. However on the heels of their loss to the Eagles last week, first year head coach Ben McAdoo has to decide just how long to play his ones. It’s a health versus momentum and rhythm decision for New York. As the team is looking to get a number of major contributors (Janoris Jenkins and JPP to name a couple) healthy for the playoffs.
KEYS TO VICTORY
- Outside of knowing how long the Giants will play their starters, Washington will need to see good Cousins against the third ranked scoring defense in the league. Kirk, who has far surpassed the franchise passing yardage mark he set last season, stands 370 yards shy of a 5,000 yard season. DeSean Jackson, currently on a three game 100-yard receiving streak will look to equal his 8-96 and a TD effort versus New York in week 3.
- The health of Washington’s run game. Robert Kelly who has added a legit run threat to the offense, was banged up last week in the win (knee). His MRI came back negative showing no structural damage, and it’s been said that he could have gone back into the game if necessary. Mack Brown filled in admirably, running for 82 yards on 8 touches and a score. Look for both backs to possibly get carries this week along with Chris Thompson.
- With two of the players that helped seal the week 3 victory (Cravens, Dunbar) out today– even more pressure is placed on a defensive unit that has been up and down at best. The safety position the new position of interest, with Donte Whitner being placed on IR (quad) last week. The Skins re-signed Josh Evans to take his spot on the roster, as an already challenged group becomes thinner at an inopportune time. The team could use Preston Smith’s play from last week, to not be a mere aberration, to aid the secondary with increased pressure.
If Washington performs the way they have shown they can, they should lock up the sixth seed in the NFC playoffs with a win on Sunday. That is of course, as long as Green Bay and Detroit don’t create a magical way to tie, on Sunday night.
For those scoring at home, the latter would signal your favorite Redskin sitting at home watching the playoffs just like the rest of us. And a shake up potentially bigger than anyone may have fathomed.