It's getting closer.... kickoff about 4 hours away. It seems so trivial to say that this is a big game; they're all big games when there are only 16 in the season. Having said that, consider the fact that there are three division crowns already locked up (Patriots, Broncos, Falcons) and one other team (Texans) has a playoff spot clinched with 1/4 of the season to go . I find that stunning - what happened to parity in the NFL... One fourth of the season to go and realistically only one team in the AFC has a shot at making the playoffs and knocking out a team that is currently in "if the season ended today". A few more are alive in the NFC - but still, there are many teams eliminated and many spots virtually locked up. Based on this, I guess you can say that some games are bigger than others - you can lock up the playoffs early and coast home. If the Giants win tonight, they get a good lead in the NFC East, knocking out the Redskins from practical considerations and maintaining a 2 game lead on Dallas with 4 to go. If they lose, then both the Redskins and Cowboys would be just 1 game behind with a difficult stretch of games coming up for the Giants. Furthermore, it would be the Giants 3rd loss in the division - not good when it comes to possible tiebreakers. One thing that worries me about tonight's game: it means everything to the Redskins, but it is "just" very important to the Giants, not necessarily life-or-playoff-death.
Redskins defense is not that good - they are ranked near the bottom in pass defense and with Nicks getting healthier, we can hope/expect that the Giants offense will put some pressure on the Skins. Giants have to be careful with the ball, because Redskins defense is very aware of Giants offense, audibles and line calls with the defection of Cofield to Washington a few seasons ago. Redskins offense has been humming lately, they got Garcon back as a legitimate deep threat, they have run the ball very well and Griffin III has been great. Giants may have to put up a lot of points tonight.
Giants defense can not be too cautious tonight. They blitzed very little against the Packers but still were able to generate a pass rush with their front 4, so they could play coverage and take away Rodgers passing game. If Giants can do the same tonight: stop the Redskins running game and get something of a pass rush without blitzing, they may be able to contain the Redskins offense somewhat. The Redskins OL has played much better than the Packers, so Giants may need to be a little less afraid of blitzing to get some pressure. I suspect that the Giants will take away the deep balls and try to make Griffin beat them on slow, long methodical drives. If they can hurry him into a few mistakes or hope he gets impatient by taking away big plays, they may have some success. That argues for Giants not to be risky with lots of blitz packages and instead to stay in their rush lanes and be conservative, different than what i suggested above. I think they will have to bring some pressure and bother RG III into some mistakes, because of the balance of the Redskins offense. As dangerous as RG III is, Giants have to make a big effort to stop Morris and the Redskins running game.
It will be interesting to see what the Giants do with their 3-S look if Phillips (as expected) will not play. I still like Kiwanuka on the DL, because having speed on the field is important - Kiwanuka is fast for a DL-man but not as fast compared to typical LBs. Even without the 3-S look, Giants should use Hill, Hosley or Hill as a S and let Rolle play nickel slot against Moss. This is a key matchup for the Giants; Moss did some real damage in the first game and the Giants know from using Cruz how important a deep threat in the slot is.