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Giants' last playoff gasp


Giants Credit: Getty Images

The Giants’ road to the playoffs became treacherous and uncertain after last week’s dismantling in Green Bay. For football to continue in January, the G-Men will need help from Chicago and a win in Washington. (4:15 p.m., FOX)

Unfortunately for the Giants (9-6), help might not be on the way. The Bears have nothing at stake in Green Bay on Sunday after clinching a first-round bye last week.

If the Giants aren’t playing for the postseason, they could be playing for head coach Tom Coughlin’s livelihood. Another loss would mark a second-straight, late-season meltdown to eliminate Big Blue from playoff contention.

Washington (6-9) would love nothing more than to end their own season on a three-game winning streak while crushing the Giants’ postseason hopes.

Time to ‘D’ Rex
Rex Grossman is no Aaron Rodgers (404 yards and four touchdowns last week against the Giants), but he has thrown for 504 yards and five touchdowns in the last two games since being named Washington’s starter. But Grossman’s three picks and six sacks in those games are more characteristic of the Bears’ former gunslinger. Big Blue’s NFC-best pass rush (44 sacks) should be able to break through Washington’s 29th-ranked offensive line (44 sacks allowed) to rattle the historically erratic Grossman.

Rampant running
It may seem like ages, but it was only four weeks ago when the Giants pounded the Redskins at the New Meadowlands. Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw ran rampant around Washington, combining for 200 yards and four touchdowns in a 31-7 beat down. The ‘Skins defense is still weak against the run, ranking 25th in the NFL with a 130.6-yard average allowed on the ground per game. A successful rush attack will also limit Eli Manning’s need to throw the ball, especially with leading receiver Hakeem Nicks’ (toe) status for Sunday unknown.

Simplified strategy
Much like the last game, Eli Manning will face the Redskins’ dismal, 31st-ranked pass defense without Nicks and Steve Smith (knee). Manning threw only 25 passes in that game, his second lowest in attempts this season, with only one interception – another accomplishment given his league-leading 24 picks. If Manning can resist the urge to force passes into double coverage, he could find success with relief receivers Derek Hagan and Mario Manningham against a ‘Skins’ defense dedicated to stopping the run.

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