New York Giants (10-5 SU, 8-6-1 ATS) vs. Washington Redskins (8-6-1 SU, 10-5 ATS)
Week 17 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, January 1, 2017 at 4:25PM EST
Where: FedEx Field, Landover, Maryland
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: NYG +8/WAS -8
Over/Under Total: 44
The New York Giants take on the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field on Sunday in big week 17 NFC East action. The Giants are in, locked into the wild card as the 5-seed. Nothing can change that, with only the identity of their opponent being in question. The Redskins are still in it with a chance and will get in with a win. They face a win-and-in scenario based on the Lions loss on MNF. Look for them to be shot out of a cannon at home. Last week, the Giants lost on Thursday Night Football to the Eagles, 24-19, while the Redskins kept their playoff hopes alive with a 41-21 win at the Bears.
The Redskins have been a streaky bunch and have done well to hang on with a chance to win themselves into the playoffs. The season opened with them looking awful en route to an 0-2 start. They would go on to lose just once in their next 8 games. But 3 losses in their next four games led to week 16 where they needed and got the win. It's been disconcerting to watch them melt away some in the past 5-6 weeks, but the Redskins are a streaky bunch and at their best—a very dangerous team.
Key among the Redskins' attributes is a diverse aerial offense, led by Kirk Cousins and his 4630 yards passing. The weapons are numerous through the air, with DeSean Jackson (questionable) leading the way, closely followed by Pierre Garcon and Jamison Crowder. Tight ends Jordan Reed (questionable) and resurgent Vernon Davis have combined for 103 receptions. RB Chris Thompson has over 300 yards on the ground and through the air. The air-attack for Washington offers size and speed and a multitude of different abilities with so many relevant pieces to the puzzle. In recent weeks, they've gotten a spurt in the run-game with rookie Robert Kelley having some big games in the second half of the season, though he is listed as questionable for this game with a knee sprain. It's a bad time for this offense to be so banged-up
The Redskins' defense really hasn't been very good from a stoutness standpoint, ranked 29th in total defense—28th against the pass and 25th against the run. They can range from fairly-effective to downright exploitable. Injuries have been an issue and so has inconsistent play, which has plagued this side of the ball. They get good play from Trent Murphy and Ryan Kerrigan, who have been adept in getting after quarterbacks. Mason Foster has also been big in the middle. And in the secondary, Josh Norman has made a lot of plays this season and given them a boost.
The Giants can approach this is any number of ways with nothing really at-stake and a playoff spot already locked in. They can just play it like any other game, go for a win and spoil things for their hated rivals, and enter the postseason with some momentum. Or there is any number of different variations of some form of "phoning it in." That could mean all the starters play, but maybe hold something back. Or maybe coach Ben McAdoo starts Eli Manning to keep the consecutive starts streak rolling, then pulls him later. Maybe they just basically lay down for the Redskins and not put much into this week's effort. There are a lot of variations and most of them won't stack up well against a Redskins team trying to win their way into the postseason.
It's really a different Giants team this season than what we've become accustomed to seeing during the long tenure of the league's most-durable quarterback—Eli Manning. Normally, they're what one would call offensively-inclined. This season, they've adopted a more-conservative approach, relying on a vastly-improved defense. This season, we've seen a slew of low-scoring games won by the Giants, something they weren't very good at in recent seasons. Leading into their Thursday loss to Philly, they had won two games in a row, by the respective scores of 10-7 and 17-6.
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Again, the Giants' defense deserves a ton of credit. Only once this season has an opponent surpassed 24 points and that was in week three. Ironically, that was this Redskins team, who defeated the Giants way back on September 25th, 29-27. It was so long ago with the circumstances so different that it might not even really matter what happened in that game, other than some vague conclusion that the Redskins can do well against this defense. Only two teams in the league have given up fewer points than the Giants. They've been big up-front, with first year Giant Olivier Vernon having a big season. And a playmaking secondary led by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Landon Collins, and rookie Eli Apple have been pretty good.
Manning is still able to air it out and has made a lot of connections with Odell Beckham, who could win the receiving title this week. He will also renew acquaintances with Josh Norman, with the pair going at it hard in week three. There is also nice support from promising rookie Sterling Shepard and revived veteran Victor Cruz. In recent weeks, the Giants have put more effort into getting the run-game rolling. With Rashad Jennings and rookie Paul Perkins starting to roll a little, it's a part of their game that could come around right in the nick of time. Still, it's a pretty lackluster offense, averaging 19.4 points a game.
There haven't been any indications from McAdoo at Giants' practice that he will rest starters. That still doesn't mean that the reality of it all won't dawn on Giants' players. And when the going gets tough, that's when the sense of urgency resonates. Still, the Giants don't want to have such bad momentum going into the postseason. I look for them to give it a good enough go to get the cover this week.
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