LANDOVER, Md. (AP) It’ll be a long night for the Washington Redskins on Sunday, even if they beat the New York Giants at home in the afternoon.
The Redskins face a virtual win and get into the playoffs scenario in their regular-season finale, with one hitch. If the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions play to a tie Sunday night, those teams make it and the Redskins don’t.
”It’s 99.9 percent guaranteed,” safety Will Blackmon said. ”I joked around with it with my wife. I said that’d be something else: We win and they get a tie. We joked around about it. But we’re the first game. Just control what we can control and that’s it, and sit at home and hope for someone to win.”
Washington (8-6-1) played in one of the two ties this season, and no NFL season has had three since overtime rules were changed in 1974. With that in mind, the Redskins are focused on controlling their playoff future against a Giants team locked into the first NFC wild-card spot with nothing tangible to play for.
New York coach Ben McAdoo said Eli Manning and his starters will play ”the game” with the intent of getting into a rhythm going into the playoffs.
”We want to go out there and put some drives together, put some points on the board and take it from there,” Giants receiver Victor Cruz said. ”We just want to get some things going a little bit, get our offense going, get some rhythm as we go through these games and make sure that we’re sharp for the first week of the playoffs, and make sure that we’re clicking kind of on all cylinders.”
Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson wants the Giants’ ”best shot” and hopes it’s another great NFC East battle. Coach Jay Gruden is preparing for the Giants (10-5) to go all out, and the Redskins have no choice but to match that to join them in the postseason.
”It’s the biggest game of the season, obviously, and we have got to play our best football,” Gruden said. ”It’s Week 17, we should be mentally sound. We should be physically in good shape and ready to roll. We have got a lot to play for, so it should be exciting for them.”
Some things to watch when the Redskins host the Giants on Sunday:
BY THE COACHING NUMBERS: If the Giants win, McAdoo will become the second coach to win 11 games in his first season with the franchise. Dan Reeves had 11 in 1993. McAdoo also is the Giants’ fourth rookie head coach to make the postseason, joining Reeves (’93), Allie Sherman (’61) and Jim Fassel (’97). The Giants have not won 11 games in a season since 2008 (12-4).
BECKHAM VS. NORMAN: There’s far less hype on Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Josh Norman than in the teams’ first meeting, but it’s still a showdown between one of the league’s top receivers and one of the top cornerbacks. ”The storm has finally settled down, which is awesome,” Norman said. ”Just a regular guy playing a regular game, you get to see on Sundays, that’s it.” It’s also the most important one-on-one matchup because Washington defensive coordinator Joe Barry won’t again make the mistake of letting Beckham run rampant.
GIANTS ON THE RUN: While they rank No. 29 in the league in rushing with an 83.4-yard average, the Giants are starting to show signs that the ground game is improving. New York has gained 96, 114 and 114 yards in the past three games, and the big difference has been the play of rookie Paul Perkins. The fifth-round draft pick from UCLA has run for 45, 56 and 68 yards the past three games on 41 carries, a 4.12 yard average. Perkins gives the offense a changeup from the hard-pounding Rashad Jennings. He can make that first tackler miss and he has been a step away from breaking a big one. New York has not had a run longer than 25 yards this season on 358 carries.
MAYBE THE END: Pending free agent receivers Jackson and Pierre Garcon could be playing their final game with the Redskins, and if it is they’re going out in style. Jackson has 100-plus yards receiving in three consecutive games and four of five, and Garcon had four catches for 94 yards last week. They insist their focus is on the Giants and not the offseason.
”We’re trying to keep putting our best foot forward to give the team everything we’ve got as we work toward the playoffs and play better in the playoffs,” Garcon said. ”You can’t really think about what’s going to happen.”
MISTAKES GALORE: The Giants handed the Redskins the game in a 29-27 loss in Week 3. A kickoff out of bounds, a 20-yard pass, a 50-yard punt return, a 31-yard pass on a fake punt, and a roughing-the-passer penalty on Olivier Vernon on a second-and-14 incompletion set up five field goals for Dustin Hopkins. Touchdown passes of 55 yards to Jamison Crowder and 44 yard to Jackson accounted for the other 14 points. Washington did its best to give away the game, muffing a punt, allowing two 20-plus yard passes, and roughing Eli Manning on New York’s three touchdown drives.
AP Sports Writer Tom Canavan contributed.
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