Washington Redskins: 5 Keys To Notching A Victory Against Giants

BY Fansided and Gabby Birenbaum/FanSided via Riggo's Rag • December 31, 2016

With a playoff spot on the line, the upcoming Redskins-Giants game is a must-win situation for Kirk Cousins and Co. Here are 5 things the Redskins will need to do to defeat the Giants and clinch a playoff berth.

The all-important Week 17 matchup between the Washington Redskins and the New York Giants is almost here. Our own Jacob Camenker outlined the importance of this game in his Redskins to watch piece from earlier this week:

The day of reckoning is nearly here. All of the Washington Redskins playoff hopes are on the line during Sunday’s game against the New York Giants. A win virtually guarantees a playoff berth for the Redskins. A loss would send the team straight into the offseason.

That said, the Redskins have to be extremely focused on the regular season finale. Jay Gruden and the coaching staff have to make sure that they motivate the team and create an excellent game plan. The Giants are likely going to play their starters for at least part of the game, and that means that this game will be no cakewalk.

This game certainly will not be a cakewalk, and the Redskins need to make sure that they play their best on Sunday. Here is a look at five keys to the game, and how they can get a win.

Dec 22, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr (13) leaps in an attempt to evade a tackle by Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Leodis McKelvin (21) in the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New York Giants 24-19. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

5. Contain Odell Beckham Jr.

Beckham, currently second in the league in receiving yards, with 1,323, has been phenomenal this season. In his first matchup with the Redskins this year, a highly publicized tilt against Redskins cornerback Josh Norman, Beckham was largely kept quiet until a breakout fourth quarter. He finished with 7 receptions for 121 yards, and no touchdowns. Although the Redskins got the win, Beckham seemed to have won the matchup.

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For the Redskins to win on Sunday, Josh Norman has to do a better job shutting down the sure-handed receiver. Norman, who will shadow #13 all over the field, has to keep with Beckham step-for-step. In addition, he must break up passes. Finally, he cannot be penalized for illegal hands to the face. Having already secured the #5 seed, the Giants have no reason to play their stars except to be competitive. While Beckham will certainly start, there’s a good chance that he will sit by the third or fourth quarter. If Norman can keep Beckham at bay for as long as he’s on the field, the Redskins will be in great position to make the playoffs.

Dec 24, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon (88) catches a pass as Chicago Bears cornerback Tracy Porter (21) defends during the second quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

4. Spread the Ball on Offense

The Giants may be without playmaking cornerback Janoris Jenkins on Sunday, and the Redskins have many talented receiving options. Between DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Jamison Crowder, Jordan Reed (if he plays) and Vernon Davis, the Redskins always have lots of options.

If Kirk Cousins can hit Jackson on a few deep balls, find Garcon on the sideline and hit Crowder in the slot consistently, the Redskins offense will roll. Add in the tight ends, and the offense should click. Even in the red zone, if the defense can be kept guessing, the offense should function like a playoff-bound team’s.

Dec 24, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Washington Redskins inside linebacker Mason Foster (54) tackles Chicago Bears tight end Daniel Brown (85) during the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

3. Tackle Well

The Redskins have struggled for years with proper tackling. The first player to arrive on the scene is often juked out or left lying on the ground after a missed tackle. Against the Giants, this cannot happen. Eli Manning is at his best after having evaded tacklers. Odell Beckham leads the league in yards after catch. Giants rookie running back Paul Perkins‘ best asset is his ability to bounce off of would-be tacklers and keep running. Though it will be tough without Su’a Cravens, Washington must wrap up ball carriers at the first opportunity.

The bright side for the Redskins is that they will, in fact, have Will Compton at their disposal. Compton returned to the team in Week 16 after being sidelined for a week with a knee injury. Compton presence on defense has been a huge part of the Redskins success this season, and having him against the Giants will definitely improve their tackling abilities.

Dec 24, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) in action during the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. The Redskins defeat the Bears 41-21. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

2. Convert in the Red Zone

This has been the Washington’s biggest problem all year, and may well be the difference between a win and a loss, and by extension, a playoff berth and a season cut short. The Redskins must be efficient once inside the 20-yard line, and Cousins will need to make decisions based on what he’s seeing in the defense.

The good news is that the team has improved their red zone offense in the past few weeks. They hold a season long touchdown percent 45.8, per TeamRankings.com, but they have improved that by nearly 10 percent in their last three games. Still, Cousins has to be sharp when inside the opponent’s 20. Otherwise, the Giants could make a big play and take away some scoring opportunities from the Redskins.

Dec 24, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Washington Redskins running back Robert Kelley (32) gains yardage against the Chicago Bears during the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

1. Get Rob Kelley Going

The Redskins abandon the run and fail to utilize Rob Kelley far too often — to the point that it’s becoming an unfortunate trend. Although the Giants have a tough front seven, sticking with the run game is important to keep the defense on their toes. In addition, establishing the Redskins’ offense as a threat both on the ground and in the air strengthens the overall attack. If the Giants take out star defensive linemen Olivier Vernon and Damon “Snacks” Harrison, there should be lots of room for Kelley to run. By establishing the run game and sticking with it, the Redskins can keep their offense multifaceted.

Ultimately, this game will be a microcosm for the Redskins season. If they win, it will be because they utilize their strengths, like the depth of the receiving corps and establishing a power run game, and fix their problems, including tackling and red zone efficiency. If they lose, it will be because they succumb to the issues that they haven’t fixed all year. For the Redskins to earn the playoff berth, they have to play like a playoff team.

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