New York Giants vs. Washington Redskins: Prediction, preview, pick to win

By The Sports Xchange  |  Nov. 22, 2017 at 11:33 AM
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NEW YORK GIANTS (2-8) AT WASHINGTON REDSKINS (4-6)

KICKOFF: Thursday, 8:30 p.m. ET, FedExField. TV: NBC, Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (field reporter).

SERIES HISTORY: 169th regular-season meeting. Giants lead series, 98-66-4. The Giants have split the season series with the Redskins the last two years. The Giants, who last played on Thanksgiving in 2009 (a 26-6 loss to the Broncos), are 7-4-3 in Thanksgiving games.

KEYS TO THE GAME: For the Redskins, it's simple. How fast can they forget Sunday's 34-31 overtime loss to the Saints and how fast can they get healthy? Four more players were placed on injured reserve on Tuesday, leaving the roster in flux heading into the short week. The Redskins will be wary of the Giants despite their 2-8 record.

But there are plenty of areas for Washington's offense to exploit. The Giants rank 21st in points allowed, 28th in yards allowed per play, 31st in yards allowed per game and 29th in third-down conversions.

Running back Samaje Perine has a finger injury but looks like he'll be able to play after having the best game of his career. If the makeshift offensive line can open holes for Perine, quarterback Kirk Cousins should be able to make plays with newfound favorite receiver Josh Doctson. He has just 19 catches, but 11 have come in the past three games, and six have been for 20 yards or more.

The Giants' front four -- led by Jason Pierre-Paul, Damon Harrison and Olivier Vernon -- is still capable of imposing its will on any offensive line and could have a sizable advantage over the Redskins, who will be without two starters (Shawn Lauvao and Spencer Long). Three others (Trent Williams, Brandon Scherff, Morgan Moses) will be playing hurt.

When the Giants have the ball, their best chance is to sustain drives with their ground game because their top wide receivers, including Odell Beckham Jr., are on injured reserve. They might just be able to do that with Washington's defensive line banged up. Per Pro Football Focus, Orleans Darkwa and Wayne Gallman have combined to create 19 missed tackles (out of 154 attempts) when rushing the ball, 12.3 percent of their combined carries.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

--Redskins RB Samaje Perine vs. Giants run defense. With Chris Thompson done for the season, Perine likely will carry the load for the Redskins the rest of the way. Last week he rushed for 117 yards and a TD on 23 carries. New York's run defense, meanwhile, has struggled to hold opposing offenses under 100 rushing yards in all but one game, Week 6 vs. the Denver Broncos. The Giants' run defense also has been prone to allowing big-play runs of 10 or more yards -- 36 of them, with 11 of those going for 20 or more yards. Perine does have a finger injury, so it will be interesting to see how that injury affects his ball security.

--Giants TE Evan Engram vs. Redskins linebackers. Engram is a legitimate weapon as a rookie, with five touchdowns and 41 receptions. He will see a lot of Redskins LB Zach Brown, who has the speed to stay with Engram but can get lost in coverage sometimes. Brown leads the NFL in tackles (101). Engram has topped 60 yards receiving four times this season.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Redskins C Tony Bergstrom. Bergstrom will be the third player to start at center this season for the Redskins. Cut by Baltimore in October, Bergstrom was quickly signed by Washington, which was decimated by injuries to the offensive line. Now, Bergstrom has been thrust into a starting role after Spencer Long was placed on IR on Tuesday. Backup center Chase Roullier took over this month and had played five games in a row, including every snap against Dallas, Seattle and New Orleans. But he fractured his right hand on Sunday against the Saints and needs surgery. Bergstrom, 31, makes his fifth career NFL start.

FAST FACTS: Giants QB Eli Manning has 12 touchdowns and six interceptions in his last six games against the Redskins. He has 1,055 passing yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions in his last four road games. He is averaging 311.7 passing yards per game in his past three Thursday games. ... RB Orleans Darkwa has 218 yards from scrimmage in his past two road games. ... WR Sterling Shepard has 23 receptions for 329 yards and a touchdown in his past three road games. ... TE Evan Engram leads rookie tight ends with 41 receptions, 452 receiving yards and five scores. He has scored touchdowns in two straight road games. ... DE Jason Pierre-Paul has 9.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. ... DE Olivier Vernon has two sacks and a safety in his last three Thursday games. ... S Landon Collins had a career-high 14 tackles and an interception in Week 11. Since 2016, he leads all safeties with 194 tackles and is tied for third with seven interceptions. ... Redskins QB Kirk Cousins ranks third in the NFL with 2,796 passing yards. In his last Thanksgiving game (Nov. 24, 2016, at Detroit) he passed for 449 yards and three touchdowns. ... RB Samaje Perine rushed for a career-high 117 yards and a touchdown in Week 11. He is one of five rookies with more than 100 yards and a score in a single game. ... WR Jamison Crowder has 13 receptions for 199 yards (99.5 per game) in his last two at home. ... LB Ryan Kerrigan had a sack in the 2016 Thanksgiving game. He has three sacks in his last three games at home against the Giants. ... LB Zach Brown leads the league with 101 tackles, his second consecutive 100-tackle season. ... CB Josh Norman is the only player in the NFL with more than 50 passes defended and more than eight forced fumbles.

PREDICTION: The Giants will not be able to muster much consistency on offense while the Redskins have found their running back of the future in Samaje Perine and wide receiver of the future in Josh Doctson.

OUR PICK: Redskins, 31-17.

--Dennis Rudner

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