It's been seasons of failed expectations for the Redskins and Giants. Both were thought to be NFC East and potentially Super Bowl contenders heading into the season. Instead, they'll enter the game on Sunday with a combined nine wins.
The Giants have rebounded following an 0-6 start, but the hole was too big to dig out of. New York is 6-3 since, including wins against Philadelphia, Green Bay and Detroit. New York has played better defensively as the season has gone on. The Giants are eighth in the NFL, allowing 5.0 yards per play. Turnovers, however, continue to be an issue. The Giants are last in the NFC without a minus-16 turnover differential. Eli Manning leads the league in interceptions with 26.
While the Giants are having a down season, 2013 has been a complete disaster in Washington. From injuries and poor play on the field to drama and distractions off it, not much has gone right for the Redskins this season. Depending on the results on Sunday, Washington could land the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. It won't keep it, however, as the Redskins traded the pick to St. Louis in the Robert Griffin III trade.
Meet the Giants
The Giants have had a variety of issues this season. They can't run the ball, have been hit hard by injuries and give up too many points. The biggest issue, however, is turnovers. New York has given the ball away 41 times this season, seven more than any other team in the league. For a comparison, the Seahawks and Panthers -- the teams on top of the NFC Standings -- have combined for 36 giveaways.
New York ranks in the bottom-third of the NFL in a number of key offensive categories, including yards per play (26th); first downs per play (23rd); and third down conversation rate (30th). The Giants haven't been great defensively -- especially on third downs -- but the bigger issues lie on the offensive side of the ball. New York's defense ranks near the bottom of the NFL in sack percentage, but the Giants have been better in recent weeks. The amount of pressure they are able to apply on Sunday could be a deciding factor.
Meet the Redskins
Washington has had significant issues on both sides of the ball this season. It is dead last in defensive points per play allowed and 24th in offensive points per play. The Redskins struggle to score and are even worse at stopping the opponent from doing so. Not a good combination.
Kirk Cousins will make his third straight start in place of Griffin. After a solid first start against Atlanta, Cousins struggled last week, averaging just 5.5 yards per attempt. Washington is 20th in the NFL, averaging 6.4 yards per passing attempt. That is down significantly from the 7.5 yards per attempt it averaged last season.
If Washington loses on Sunday, the Rams will hold no worse than the No. 2 pick with a chance to secure the No. 1 overall pick.
Local Takes: New York
Taylor and his girlfriend are renting out the two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo for Super Bowl week because "We thought it would be the best time to get out of the city and go on vacation because that week will be a madhouse," said Taylor.
Local Takes: Washington
With the season a lost cause, Mark Tyler of Hogs Haven is looking ahead, including at some potential free agent targets:
I have outlined four major areas of need for this team in free agency based on projected value at the position both in the open market, and with potential draft targets. My targets are, Right Tackle, Middle Linebacker, Safety and Defensive Tackle/Defensive End.
Follow the Fun
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@ConorTOrr -- Giants beat writer
@MikeJonesWaPo -- Redskins beat writer
Shanahan said he's told players that although they don't have anything to play for, they're being evaluated, many by future GMs and coaches— Mike Jones (@MikeJonesWaPo) December 26, 2013
SB Nation's NFL experts favor the Giants, with all five picking New York to win.
The Giants opened as a 3.5-point favorite, according to OddShark.com. The total was set at 45.5 points.
Both teams will begin the offseason after the game.