After weeks and weeks of drab and dull matchups between boring teams no one cares about — not even their fans, probably — Monday Night Football returns to relevance this week when Robert Griffin III and the Redskins host the defending champion New York Giants.
Normally, the hype over Monday Night Football and the significance of performances on the first night of the work week, as opposed to the last day of the weekend, is completely overblown by ESPN/ABC. Of course, ESPN wants people to believe MNF is more important than it actually is because it's in the company's best financial interests. To be fair, MNF has a ton of history, and although it gets killed in the ratings to NBC's superior Sunday Night Football, it's still a national platform.
That's exactly the kind of place Griffin needs to be. He's already the game's most electric player. He's thrown four touchdown passes each in his last two games, he's among the league's most accurate passers already, and, perhaps most importantly, he's led the Redskins to the brink of playoff position. A win against the Giants would put the 'Skins at 6-6, launch Griffin hype into the stratosphere — at this point, that's really where it belongs — and make a lot of teams (read: the Seahawks, Saints, Bucs and Packers) nervous about that second Wild Card seed.
Meet the Redskins
One-man teams are frequently overblown, but considering the roster RGIII has around him, he's really the Redskins' alpha and omega. Early in the season, the team lost Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker to season-ending injury, and a few weeks after that, tight end Fred Davis went on injured reserve.
Without Orakpo and Carriker, London Fletcher has played well, but the Redskins defense has been awful. They've allowed more than 300 yards a game through the air, so the fact that they're third in the league in rush defense (89.2 yards a game) is likely more attributed to teams simply electing to pass than an especially stout front line.
On the flip side, Griffin and his fellow rookie Albert Morris have combined to lead the league's No. 1 rushing attack. Griffin has passed for 2,497 yards and rushed for 642, making it a distinct possibility he puts in a 3,000-1,000 effort in his first season.
Meet the Giants
At this point in the Giants season, one that has been rife with inconsistencies but proven that the Giants can raise their game to among the best in the league, Giants fans would probably say they have the league right where they want them. Heck, they might be doing too well, considering both times they've won Super Bowls in the Coughlin-Manning era they just squeaked in the playoffs.
This Giants team is just like the others. Led by the steady hand of Eli Manning and a nightmarish pass rush with Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora, they have the ability to brutalize teams, like they did the Green Bay Packers last Sunday night, a 38-10 victory.
The Giants had a stable of useful running backs, but that's been cut into after backup Andre Brown broke his leg last week, opening up carries for rookie David Wilson, who has been dynamite returning kicks this year. That talent loss should be mitigated by pass catchers like Hakeem Nicks, who had his first big game of the season against the Packers, and Victor Cruz, among the best slot receivers in the NFL.
Local Takes: Redskins
Mackenzie Rivers from SB Nation Redskins blog Hogs Haven had a post earlier this week about 10 under-appreciated Redskins.
1. Darrel Young-
Kyle Shanahan isn't engaging in coach speak when he says D-Young is one of the best fullbacks in the league. The numbers say Young is one of four fullbacks with two receiving touchdowns, fifth among fullbacks in rushing yards with 42, (26 of which came at New York) and 12th in receiving yards with 58. But the numbers don't tell the story. The value of a fullback comes from his ability to clear space for his running back, and ask Alfred Morris, D-Young has done an exceptional job at that for the No. 2 rushing attack in the league.
Local Takes: Giants
[Brown's injury is] not just an opportunity for Wilson to contribute to this offense. He understands the magnitude of it considering how huge Brown had been for the Giants. His big opportunity can come next Monday night against the Washington Redskins. Wilson feels he's ready to fill in Brown's shoes.
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Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Hogs Haven and Big Blue View, for more analysis and highlights from the game.
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@amazen6483 I think Randle is going to grow into the job. But Manningham was a really good player.— Ed Valentine (@bigblueview) November 28, 2012
The Giants beat the Redskins last time, but they needed a last-second deep bomb touchdown to Victor Cruz to do it. This time RGIII has officially hit his stride and the Redskins will be at home at FedEx Field. The Giants have been wildly inconsistent over the past month, but their performance on primetime against the Packers showed that when they have a stage, they should rise to the occasion. As tempting as it is to pick
God's side whatever team RGIII is on, I have a hard time predicting against Eli Manning in a big spot.
Giants 31, Redskins 30
The Giants are three-point favorites on Oddsshark.com. Although, as Odds Shark staff notes, the 'Skins have covered the spread four weeks in a row.
The Redskins will host the Baltimore Ravens next week, following their collapse against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday. The Giants will play host to the New Orleans Saints, also trying to bounce back from a loss to their biggest rival.