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What to Watch: Redskins vs. Giants

It's the first division game of the year for the 'Skins

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images
    Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants passes under pressure from Stephen Bowen #72 of the Washington Redskins.

    Game time: Sunday, Oct. 21, 1 p.m. ET, MetLife Stadium
    TV: FOX
    Weather: low-60s, mostly sunny
    Records: Redskins (3-3) at Giants (4-2)

    When the Redskins have the ball. Despite rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III's league-leading 70 percent completion percentage, the Redskins are still a running team. It starts with RGIII, who is as dangerous with his legs (379 yards, 6 TDs) as his arm (1,343 yards, 5 TDs). Then there's his rookie backfield mate, Alfred Morris, who has 538 yards on 116 carries (4.6 YPC).

    For all Griffin has accomplished in his short career (and the legend seems to grow by the week), the 76-yard touchdown sprint against the Vikings last Sunday is all anyone is talking about. But the Giants, a veteran team with a tenacious pass rush, isn't getting caught up in the hysteria.

    Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul couldn't have been clearer about this when he said Thursday "Don't bring it to my side. Go the other way."

    Pierre-Paul might be one of the few people in the league who can match RGIII's athleticism. He's listed at 6-6, 273 pounds and ripped off 13 consecutive backflips during the NFL Combine.

    “Trust me, we chase quarterbacks all time,” Pierre-Paul said via the New York Daily News. “We turn and run to the ball, no matter what. He may get past us and zoom right past us, but trust me we’re right behind him. You’ve got to respect that too. It’s not all about the speed. We’ve got guys, all 11 guys that can run to the ball very quick. You’d be surprised. Very surprised.”

    The Giants are coming off a convincing win in San Francisco, but the front four was ineffective in the Week 4 loss to the Eagles. In broad terms, the Redskins' offense resembles what the Eagles sometimes try to do with Michael Vick, but RGIII's more dangerous. Coach Mike Shanahan watched the tape and knows how Philadelphia had success. But so did the Giants. And, as often happens, fundamentals will be critical.

    “Making sure that each guy has a sound awareness of who they have and what the checks are,” defensive end Justin Tuck said. “Communication is key. … They’ve seen us face option quarterbacks, too. So they know how we’ve played them, and they’re gonna throw some things in.”

    When the Giants have the ball. The Redskins secondary played well against the Vikings last week, but the difference between second-year quarterback Christian Ponder and two-time Super Bowl winner Eli Manning can fit into the Grand Canyon. Put another way: Washington's defense has to play mistake-free football because if they don't, Manning will take advantage of them all afternoon.

    Complicating matters: Manning is nearly perfect against the blitz, so sending an extra rusher in his face only makes his job easier. Oh, and he's been sacked four times. All season. (The Cardinals' now-injured quarterback Kevin Kolb was sacked 17 times in a two-game span earlier this season.)

    “When you don’t have many sacks, it’s a combination of a lot of things,” Manning said via CSNWashington.com. “The offensive line, obviously, playing well and doing a great job with one-on-one blocks and picking up blitzes. …And when you’re running the ball well, that slows down the pass rush a little bit.”

    In one sense, this makes the 'Skins' job easier: they can rush four with coverage behind them. The problem: if those four don't generate a pass rush -- and that's been an issue this season -- Manning will eat them alive.

    “A lot of it is he’s smart in the pocket,” defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. “He slides in the pocket. He stays alive. He knows when to get out of the pocket. … We have to be disciplined in our rush. And relentless to disrupt the passing game.”

    X Factor. With the kicker situation settled (for now), the Redskins can focus their attention on finding another punter in the event that starter Sav Rocca can't play. Rocca's been slowed by an injury to the knee of his kicking leg (right). The Washington Post reported that former Eagles punter Chas Henry would work out for the Skins Friday.