Giants vs. Redskins 2013 game preview: Not quite the NFC East matchup we once expected

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

To open the season, these two teams might have been the favorites to win their division. But with only five games left, they're instead fighting to get out of the cellar.

The Washington Redskins sacrificed a lot of draft value for the rights to get Robert Griffin III and it appears as though their defense is suffering greatly for it. But things get even worse now that their offense has also struggled for much of the season. Will they able to turn it around against a suddenly-hot New York Giants defense?

That would seem hard to believe.

Last season these two teams split their season series, with each winning at home. Both games were close, with neither team winning by more than four points, but they both seem awfully different at the moment. The Redskins won their last seven games last season to take the NFC East and the Giants lost five of their final eight games to relinquish the division crown to Washington, but they are now again headed in opposite directions.

Which two teams show up on Sunday night in DC?

Meet the Redskins

It seemed as though maybe Washington was again turning around their season after they beat the San Diego Chargers in overtime to get to 3-5, but three straight losses by an average of 12 points each has them looking ahead to next year.

Unfortunately they can't really look ahead to the top of the draft but that pick is headed to the St. Louis Rams as the final piece of their deal for Griffin. They won't be able to use the pick to get a defensive player to spark that side of the ball and they truly do need one.

The Redskins have arguably the worst pass defense in the NFL and that's not a good thing in this era of football, where passing records seem to fall every week. Last year the offense was good enough to overcome the defense, for awhile, but it's not nearly at that level anymore.

Though they are still second in rushing yards and first in yards per carry, Griffin is averaging one interception and one fumble per game. Yardage is up but efficiency is way, way down. And they now face the Giants at a time when their defense is riding high.

Meet the Giants

The New York Giants started the season 0-6 and had given up 34.8 points per game as one of the worst defenses in the league. Things changed in a hurry.

The Giants are 4-1 over their last five games and the defense has allowed just 14.2 points per game. Unfortunately, it's probably too late for them to get any playoff aspirations. Even in the NFC East.

New York is coming off of a 24-21 loss to the Dallas Cowboys despite a season-high 202 rushing yards. That loss put them at 4-7 and two games back of the Cowboys and Eagles, and they got swept by Dallas this year. Even winning out might not be enough for the Giants but that doesn't mean that they can't continue to win back some pride after such an embarrassing start to the year.

The offense turned it over 23 times in the first six games but just seven times over their last five. The Giants might be one of the best 4-7 teams of recent memory but can they keep that rolling against the Redskins?

Local Takes: Washington Redskins

Tom Garrett at Hogs Haven spoke this week about the situation at quarterback and whether or not backup Kirk Cousins should be starting:

Suggesting that Kirk Cousins take over for a healthy RGIII is absurd. A healthy RGIII is a better quarterback than Cousins (and I say that as a fan of Cousins' who thinks he's good enough to be an NFL starter).

But this isn't a healthy RGIII. Washington had RGIII skip preseason in the hopes that the extra month would be just enough time for him to be ready to play at the level he did in 2012. But a blown-out knee is a blown-out knee. Hoping four weeks would make a difference is like thinking you can ace a test by getting up thirty minutes early on the day of the exam and cramming.

Local Takes: New York Giants

Ed Valentine at the Big Blue View wrote about "What I think I think" this week and specifically what he thinks about wide receiver Hakeem Nicks' intentions all year long:

Truth is, I haven't been convinced that Nicks was "All In" to help the Giants since well before the season even began. Everything he has done since the end of the 2012 season has been about protecting himself and getting to the free-agent market in the best possible condition.

He skipped OTAs without bothering to tell anybody he wasn't coming. He bailed on much of training camp to protect a groin issue he said he "wouldn’t even categorize it as an injury." He played very little in the four preseason games. During the regular season Nicks has not been the explosive play-maker he used to be.

There was the incident where he took himself out of the Green Bay game. Now this. Is he playing cautiously, protecting his free-agent value? Only he knows that for sure, but he certainly has left himself open to the question.

Follow the Fun

Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Hogs HavenBig Blue View, for more analysis and highlights from the game.

Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:

@HogsHaven

@BigBlueView

Prediction

If Griffin is able to do what he wants to do and gets free against this defense, there is certainly every reason to think that the Redskins can pull off the upset. Especially if Eli Manning starts making mistakes again at the rate he did to open the year.

But if we are just going off of recent trends, it seems like one team is just playing a lot better than the other. Even if it's on the road, the Giants should be able to take this one.

NYG 34, WAS 27

Odds

The Giants are 1.5-point favorites but some books have it as close as an even line, according to OddsShark.com.

Next Week

On Sunday, December 8 at 1:00 PM EST, the Redskins take on the Kansas City Chiefs at home. Later in the day, at 4:25 PM EST, the Giants play the Chargers in San Diego.

The two teams will meet again in Week 17.

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