- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 30, 2008

Giants (10-1) at Redskins (7-4)

Today, 1 p.m.

Where: FedEx Field

TV: Chs. 5, 45

Radio: ESPN 980

REDSKINS

STARTERS

Offense

WR89Santana Moss

LT60Chris Samuels

LG66Pete Kendall

C61Casey Rabach

RG77Randy Thomas

RT74Jon Jansen

TE47Chris Cooley

WR82Antwaan Randle El

QB17Jason Campbell

RB26Clinton Portis

FB45Mike Sellers

Defense

DE55Jason Taylor

DT96Cornelius Griffin

DT94Anthony Montgomery

DE92Andre Carter

OLB52Rocky McIntosh

MLB59London Fletcher

OLB54H.B. Blades

CB27Fred Smoot

CB22Carlos Rogers

SS48Chris Horton

FS30LaRon Landry

Specialists

K6Shaun Suisham

P1Ryan Plackemeier

PR82Antwaan Randle El

KR31Rock Cartwright

KR83James Thrash

Injuries

Out: LB Marcus Washington (ankle)

Questionable: DE Andre Carter (foot), LB London Fletcher (foot), DT Kedric Golston (ankle), RB Clinton Portis (knee), T Chris Samuels (knee), DT Cornelius Griffin (shoulder)

Probable: G Pete Kendall (knee), DT Anthony Montgomery (Achilles)

GIANTS

STARTERS

Offense

WR12Steve Smith

LT66David Diehl

LG66Rich Seubert

C60Shaun O’Hara

RG76Chris Snee

RT67Kareem McKenzie

TE89Kevin Boss

WR81Amani Toomer

QB10Eli Manning

FB39Madison Hedgecock

RB27Brandon Jacobs

Defense

DE91Justin Tuck

NT96Barry Cofield

DT98Fred Robbins

DE97Mathias Kiwanuka

OLB55Danny Clark

MLB58Antonio Pierce

OLB57Chase Blackburn

CB31Aaron Ross

CB23Corey Webster

FS20Michael Johnson

SS37James Butler

Specialists

P18Jeff Feagles

K5John Carney

PR87Domenik Hixon

KR44Ahmad Bradshaw

KR87Domenik Hixon

Injuries

Out: WR Plaxico Burress, LB Jonathan Goff (hamstring)

Questionable: RB Ahmad Bradshaw (neck), DT Fred Robbins (shoulder), RB Brandon Jacobs (knee)

Probable: WR Domenik Hixon (ankle), DE Jerome McDougle (knee), DE Justin Tuck (leg)

KEY MATCHUP

Redskins LB Rocky McIntosh and H.B. Blades vs. Giants RB Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw and Derrick Ward

Just when the Redskins have the third-ranked defense in the league (a season high), they might be without middle linebacker/top tackler/signal-caller London Fletcher for the first time since his arrival in 2007 led to a turnaround by Washington’s unit.

Fletcher’s left foot injury suffered last week at Seattle compounds the difficult task for a defense that will be without strongside linebacker Marcus Washington (ankle) for a second straight week and is facing the Giants’ league-leading rushing attack.

Second-year man Blades has been credible, if not much of a playmaker, in three starts in place of Washington. If Fletcher can’t play, Blades will move inside and Alfred Fincher will make his first NFL start outside. Making matters worse, both of the Redskins’ starting defensive tackles, Cornelius Griffin (shoulder) and Kedric Golston (ankle) are banged up, as is right end Andre Carter (foot). The only healthy members of the front seven are weakside linebacker McIntosh and left end Jason Taylor.

New York bruiser Jacobs, who sat out last week’s game at Arizona with a knee injury, averages 5.4 yards a carry and has 11 touchdowns. Jacobs overpowered Washington for 116 yards on 21 carries in the Giants’ 16-7 season-opening victory, and backup Ward added 39 yards on nine carries. Bradshaw is the speedy, change-of-pace back, averaging 6.3 yards a carry.

At least the Redskins can be encouraged by the second half of the opener, when they shut out the Giants and held them to seven first downs and 113 yards after being slapped around for 16 points, 14 first downs and 241 yards before halftime.

THREE KEYS

1. Stick with the run

Clinton Portis has added an injured rib muscle to his still-ailing knee, but the NFL’s leading rusher still thrives on a serious workload, which he showed again with 143 yards on 29 carries last week at Seattle. The Redskins are 7-2 when Portis carries at least 21 times (including the Week 1 loss to the Giants) and 0-2 when he doesn’t hit that plateau.

2. Block the ends

Washington’s running game took off when Jon Jansen replaced Stephon Heyer at right tackle in Week 4. However, Jansen was never quick and, at age 32, he often struggles against quick pass rushers such as New York’s Justin Tuck (9.5 sacks). Left tackle Chris Samuels would normally win his matchup against Mathias Kiwanuka (6.5), but he’s hampered by a bad knee.

3. Use the emotion

The Redskins lost their first game after safety Sean Taylor’s murder last year before using his death as a rallying point for a four-game winning streak that took them to the playoffs. Taylor will be inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor before the game; the Redskins, who need the victory much more than the Giants, need to feed off that emotion.

THE EDGE

WHEN THE REDSKINS HAVE THE BALL

Coach/play caller Jim Zorn got away from what the Redskins do best in their losses to Pittsburgh and Dallas, calling just 33 runs combined. Washington trailed at halftime last week at Seattle, but Zorn stuck with the run, calling 23 more after halftime for a total of 41. Quarterback Jason Campbell has beaten NFC East rivals Philadelphia (twice) and Dallas, but he has yet to defeat the Giants. Controlling the clock will be critical, so expect plenty of handoffs to Portis against the No. 6 run defense and also short passes to tight end Chris Cooley and receiver Santana Moss to try to negate New York’s pass rush.

Edge: Giants

WHEN THE GIANTS HAVE THE BALL

That the Giants controlled the ball for more than 30 minutes and scored 37 points last week against the NFC West-leading Cardinals without Jacobs and, effectively, Plaxico Burress speaks volumes about the improvement and depth of talent of New York’s offense from this time last year. Besides Manning and Ward, the featured performers were receivers Dominik Hixon and Steve Smith and tight end Kevin Boss. The Redskins are strong in the secondary, with Shawn Springs’ return to health giving them four fine cornerbacks, but the injuries in their front seven tilt this matchup toward New York.

Edge: Giants

SPECIAL TEAMS

At 44, New York’s John Carney doesn’t have the leg strength he once did, but he has been deadly accurate, connecting on 24 of 25 field goal attempts. At 42, New York’s Jeff Feagles, is the NFL’s fifth-ranked punter. In contrast, Washington kicker Shaun Suisham has missed his last two kicks beyond 26 yards, and Ryan Plackemeier is the 30th-ranked punter. Both teams do a good job of covering kickoffs, but the Redskins have all kinds of trouble covering punts, while the Giants are second in the league in that area. Washington (Rock Cartwright) has the edge on kickoff returns, but New York (Hixon) does on punt returns.

Edge: Giants

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