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Skins-Giants first take

Sep 3, 2008, 12:19 AM EDT

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My initial impression of the upcoming Washington Redskins-New York Giants game is that this is a winnable game for the Redskins.

That doesn’t mean that I’m going to pick them to win. I’m not sure about that just yet. But it doesn’t seem to me that this is as daunting a task as one normally would think that going into the house of the defending Super Bowl champs would be.

No disrespect intended for the Giants here. I’m not one of those who calls their run to the title last year a fluke or anything like that. Three road wins in the playoffs, two of them against the #1 and #2 seeds, and then beating the supposedly unbeatable team ready to be crowned as the Greatest of All Time in the Super Bowl is no fluke.

The championship run is history. So is the last meeting between these two teams, a 22-10 win for the Skins in Week 15, a game that was not as close as the final score indicated. Eli Manning threw a mind-numbing, record-setting 35 incomplete passes. Clinton Portis rushed for 126 yards on 26 carries. The Redskins were in charge of the contest throughout, building a 22-3 lead in the third quarter that emptied out Giants Stadium early.

If you’d told any of those chilled, disgusted fans then that their team would be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in a little less than two months, you would have gotten some strange looks. If you’d told them then that the Redskins would be returning to that stadium in the teams’ first game of 2008, most would have looked for a place to bet the Redskins.

So, the question is: Are the Giants a better team now than they were on December 16, 2007?

In regards to personnel, the answer would seem to be no, they are worse. The loss of Osi Umenyiora to injury added to the retirement of Michael Strahan puts a couple of major dents into the defensive line. Fortunately for the Giants the position was one of great strength and depth. Justin Tuck is a quality replacement and while linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka
may develop into a good DE some day, there still is a dropoff from Strahan and Osil.

Tight end Jeremy Shockey was injured and put out for the season in that December game. Kevin Boss starts in his place and while he caught a few key passes down the stretch, the Shockey trade may end up being one of those that seemed to be a good idea at the time, but later on maybe not so much.

Manning certainly rebounded from that dismal showing in the swirling Jersey winds with a nice showing in the postseason. He threw for 854 yards with six TD’s to one INT for a 95.7 rating during the playoffs. His confidence—and, just as important, his teammates’ confidence in him—grew by the game.

Confidence was what the run was all about. It was at a low point after the loss to the Skins. The next week against the Bills, the G-Men were in danger of missing the playoffs altogether as they bumbled and stumbled and trailed a pesky Bills team in Buffalo.

They came back and won that game to clinch a playoff spot, and then gave the Patriots all they could handle in the season finale. They got on a roll that didn’t stop until they dashed New England’s dreams of grandeur in Arizona.

But it’s seven months later now. Can momentum carry itself through spring and summer, through ring ceremonies and mall openings, through writing books and collecting accolades? If the answer is yes, can Big Mo make up for the absence of Umenyiora and Strahan?

  1. Billy Lathorn - Sep 3, 2008 at 4:30 AM

    WooHoo! I get to see the defending world champs in person! The offense looks extremely promising going into the year AND…AND the defense is still loaded up even after losing two DE greats. If there are any other Giants fans out there looking for last second tickets today…I got my tickets for $80 yesterday and they arrived today! http://www.esellout.com/ResultsGeneral.aspx?kwds=New+York+Giants I just love how Eli is MVP of the Super Bowl but isn’t even the QB that anyone cares about in NYC right now! How great…It’s actually possible for the Giants to fly under the radar again in 2008! I am not worried about the Eagles or Redskins this year but I do think the Cowboys pose a real threat as well especially with that “O”…

    Giants in 2008!

  2. Rich Tandler - Sep 3, 2008 at 12:10 PM

    Thanks for the YIPPEEE great, cogent analysis. Should you find a HIP-HIP HOORAY Giants blog or message board on which to share your joy?

    Enjoy the YEE-HAW game.

  3. Anonymous - Sep 3, 2008 at 9:20 PM

    Against the Redskins:

    - Playing in NY
    - Small d-line may have troubles stopping Brandon Jacobs
    - Laron Landry, Marcus Washington will be rusty after limited playing time
    - Redskins O looks suspect and has to prove itself
    - Rookie head coach for Skins, Veteran for Giants

    For the Redskins
    - Giants have won Super Bowl, will they rise to challenge or suffer malaiase?
    - Giants d-line is not as good as last season. Opportunity for Portis? More time for Campbell to throw?
    - Redskins can beat Giants if they stop Jacobs, cover recievers, and get pressure on Manning
    - No Shockey!

    My gut feeling is this will be a close game but the Giants will win at home. I hope to be pleasantly surprised, but I am not holding my breath. The last 2 preseason games have really got me worried that the Skins are not going to be very strong in the first 2 or 3 games until their first unit players get some game time behind them.

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