By Paul Dottino
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Think back to Week 4. It was a long time ago and one of the highlights of the Giants’ season.
They belted the Washington Redskins, 45-14, before a prime time audience at FedEx Field. The Giants were 2-2 and, in conjunction with their previous rout of the Houston Texans, it appeared they were on track to have a competitive season. They enhanced that belief with a win the following week over the Atlanta Falcons.
Well, not so fast …
A combination of poor play and injuries ended up sending the Giants on a seven-game losing streak, which is why they are 4-9 with the Redskins (3-10) coming to town Sunday.
Here are three key matchups two watch:
Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. and Rueben Randle vs. Redskins CBs David Amerson and Bashaud Breeland: The Redskins rank 12th in the NFL in passing defense (237.8 yards per game), but they have allowed 28 touchdown passes against only five interceptions, which amounts to an astronomical opposing passer’s rating of 109.2. Beckham (59 catches for 829 yards, 6 TDs) will line up against Amerson, who has allowed 71 percent of passes to be completed and four touchdowns. Breeland, a rookie, has allowed 61 percent and three scores. Randle’s inconsistent season continues after a season-low one reception for nine yards against Tennessee last week. He needs to finish strong to give the Giants hope that he finally will reach his potential next season.
Redskins RB Alfred Morris vs. Giants LBs Jameel McClain and Devon Kennard: Washington remains a run-first team that wants to set up the play-action pass, regardless of who is playing quarterback. Morris ranks seventh in the NFL with 899 yards (4.1 avg.) on 218 carries with seven TDs. The Giants limited him to 63 yards and a TD on 12 carries in the first meeting. McClain is playing on a sore knee that has limited him in practice, yet he is the team’s leading tackler with 95. Kennard has been sensational since being inserted into the injury-ridded starting lineup four games ago, collecting 23 tackles, four sacks and a forced fumble. He had six tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble against the Titans, becoming the first Giants rookie to be named NFC Defensive Player of the Week.
Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul vs. Redskins LT Trent Williams: Pierre-Paul may be able to do a lot for his off-season contract negotiations with a big finish, no matter which team he end up playing for. He followed up a 1 1/2-sack effort against Jacksonville with two sacks against Tennessee. This week, he will go up against a two-time Pro Bowl lineman. Williams has allowed four sacks this season and leads NFL tackles with five holding penalties. In fact, he’s third among left tackles with 10 drawn flags, overall. Yet he’s a much better litmus test for where JPP stands at this point after strong outings against subpar competition the past two weeks.
PREDICTION: Giants 34, Redskins 10
PREDICTION record vs. spread: 10-3
Follow Paul on Twitter at @GiantsWFAN
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