- The Washington Times - Monday, December 21, 2009

NEW YORK GIANTS (7-6) at WASHINGTON REDSKINS (4-9)

Today: 8:30 p.m.

Where: FedEx Field

TV: ESPN, Ch. 20

Radio: ESPN 980

GIANTS

STARTERS

Offense

WR - 82 - Mario Manningham

WR - 12 - Steve Smith

LT - 66 - David Diehl

LG - 69 - Rich Seubert

C - 60 - Shaun O’Hara

RG - 76 - Chris Snee

RT - 65 - Will Beatty

TE - 89 - Kevin Boss

RB - 27 - Brandon Jacobs

FB - 39 - Madison Hedgecock

QB - 10 - Eli Manning

Defense

DE - 91 - Justin Tuck

DT - 96 - Barry Cofield

DT - 99 - Chris Canty

DE - 72 - Osi Umenyiora

SLB - 55 - Danny Clark

MLB - 54 - Jonathan Goff

WLB - 52 - Michael Boley

CB- 24 - Terrell Thomas

CB - 31 - Aaron Ross

FS - 26 - Aaron Rouse

SS - 20 - Michael Johnson

Specialists

K - 9 - Lawrence Tynes

P - 18 - Jeff Feagles

PR - 87 - Domenik Hixon

KR - 87 - Domenik Hixon

Injuries

Doubtful: CB Corey Webster (knee), RT Kareem McKenzie (knee).

Questionable: CB Aaron Ross (hamstring).

Probable: RB Ahmad Bradshaw (ankle/foot), QB Eli Manning (foot).

REDSKINS

STARTERS

Offense

WR - 89 - Santana Moss

WR - 11 - Devin Thomas

LT - 76 - Levi Jones

LG - 66 - Derrick Dockery

C - 61 - Casey Rabach

RG - 71 - Mike Williams

RT - 74 - Stephon Heyer

TE - 86 - Fred Davis

RB - 35 - Quinton Ganther

FB - 45 - Mike Sellers

QB - 17 - Jason Campbell

Defense

DE - 99 - Andre Carter

DT - 96 - Cornelius Griffin

DT - 92 - Albert Haynesworth

DE - 93 - Phillip Daniels

WLB - 52 - Rocky McIntosh

MLB - 59 - London Fletcher

SLB - 98 - Brian Orakpo

CB - 27 - Fred Smoot

CB - 22 - Carlos Rogers

FS - 30 - LaRon Landry

SS - 37 - Reed Doughty

Specialists

K - 4 - Graham Gano

P - 3 - Hunter Smith

PR - 82- Antwaan Randle El

KR - 11 - Devin Thomas

Injuries

Questionable: K Graham Gano (right foot), DT Cornelius Griffin (shoulder), CB DeAngelo Hall (knee), RT Stephon Heyer (knee), S Kareem Moore (ankle), FB Mike Sellers (thigh).

Probable: DT Albert Haynesworth (ankle).

KEY MATCHUP

REDSKINS RB QUINTON GANTHER VS. GIANTS MLB JONATHAN GOFF

When the Redskins and Giants kicked off the season three months ago at the Swamp, Ganther was recovering from a preseason injury and dealing with the disappointment of being cut by Tennessee. Goff was a second-year special teams player working behind the durable Antonio Pierce.

And now…

Ganther is the Redskins’ starting running back following season-ending injuries to Clinton Portis (concussion in Week 9) and Ladell Betts (knee injury in Week 11) and the demotion of Rock Cartwright following Week 12.

Goff is the Giants’ starting middle linebacker following a season-ending injury to Pierce (neck), who before heading to the sideline had missed only four games in five-plus seasons with New York.

Because the playing field is a quagmire thanks to the weekend blizzard, the Redskins’ running game will be emphasized even more, which means a lot of Ganther and a lot of Goff directing traffic.

In his first NFL start, Ganther provided two things the Redskins have lacked this year - a presence on running back swing passes (a 42-yard catch and run) and short-yardage effectiveness (two 1-yard touchdown runs). It’s unlikely he’ll be the starter next year, but Ganther certainly should be auditioning to serve as a third-down back if he improves his blitz pickup recognition.

Goff will be making his third career start. He made five tackles in the Giants’ win over Dallas and intercepted a pass against Philadelphia last week.

THREE KEYS

1. Avoid early deficit

A constant during the Giants’ current streak of six wins in the last seven meetings has been New York jumping out to an early lead - 16-0 and 13-0 last year and 17-0 in Week 1 this year. If the Redskins can survive the first quarter or even get an early lead, they stand a much better chance.

2. Thomas in return game

Devin Thomas has averaged 23.6 yards on kickoff returns since taking over for Rock Cartwright, and now he could be slated for punt return duties according to coach Jim Zorn. Although the Redskins have a woeful 89 total punt return yards this year, the Giants’ punt coverage unit is 30th in the NFL.

3. Third-down defense

The Redskins are first in red zone defense and eighth on third down, but New York has driven Washington crazy recently. In their last three wins over the Redskins, the Giants are 29-for-59 on third down (49 percent) and have 10 drives of at least 10 plays.

THE EDGE

WHEN THE REDSKINS HAVE THE BALL

In the past three games, the Redskins’ offense has been watchable and productive with 88 points and 1,053 yards. The Giants are vulnerable despite top-10 rankings in major yardage categories - only four teams are giving up more points a game, and New York hasn’t allowed less than 21 points in eight games (2-6 record). Jason Campbell has three 100-plus passer rating games in the past five weeks, but the Giants get the slight edge because their pass rush still knows how to pressure the quarterback.

Edge: Giants

WHEN THE GIANTS HAVE THE BALL

Strength vs. strength - the Giants are fifth in yards, and the Redskins have allowed the seventh-fewest yards. New York can run it (4.3 yards a carry), Eli Manning is having a great year (23 TDs) and the receivers can make big plays (47 plays of at least 20 yards). The Redskins’ secondary seems better prepared to prevent the big play now that LaRon Landry has switched from free to strong safety. In the pass rush, Brian Orakpo and Andre Carter each have 11 sacks, and they give the Redskins an advantage.

Edge: Redskins

SPECIAL TEAMS

The Redskins can’t return punts (3.6-yard average), but the Giants can’t cover punts (11.5-yard average allowed). The Redskins are 28th in net punting, but the Giants are 30th. Something’s got to give, right? Jim Zorn has hinted Devin Thomas will join the punt return rotation after Antwaan Randle El made two mistakes last week. New York is sixth on punt returns, so Domenik Hixon is a threat. Redskins kicker Graham Gano was limited in practice because of a right foot injury, so his distances on kickoffs bear watching.

Edge: Even

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