These NFC East rivals will meet in a Week 17 matchup that spells the end to a disappointing season for both but where does the edge lie in our NFL picks for this meaningless game?
Washington Redskins (3-12 SU, 5-10 ATS)
The Skins have lost their last seven games but the good news is that they have covered the NFL odds in their last two. In what has been a season of chaos and confusion, RG3 has been shut down for the season and Kirk Cousins has been summoned as the starter for the last two games (coincidentally or not, both covers).
In their last outing the Redskins fell at home to the Dallas Cowboys 24-23. It was the second consecutive game in which Washington lost by a mere point, dropping their previous contest on the road to the Atlanta Falcons 27-26. Kirk Cousins has developed an aerial bromance with Pierre Garcon who broke the team’s single season mark for receptions with 107 on the season. Cousins was 11-for-17 targeting Garcon including a touchdown while going 10-of-19 with one pick when throwing to anyone else.
The last time these teams met RG3 was sacked five times with New York’s sack-master Justin Tuck registering four of those five. But the protection for Cousins has been solid since he took over for Griffin. He has only been sacked once in his two starts which could also be attributed to his more conventional pocket passing style versus RG3 who tends to roam leaving offensive linemen unaware of just where he is roaming and leading to protection breakdowns. Regardless, Washington’s offensive linemen will no doubt be aware of Justin Tuck this time out.
New York Giants (6-9 SU, 6-9 ATS)
The Giants season has been as disappointing as Washington’s and Big Blue has finally felt the sting of starting slow early. In past seasons their early losses were mitigated by a string of wins starting in the middle of the season. However, this year they could not dig out of the 0-6 hole in which they found themselves despite winning six of their last nine games.
New York played the role of a spoiler last week and won an overtime thriller in Detroit that bounced the Lions out of postseason contention and into also-ran status. It was a galvanizing game for the Giants in the sense that they had been trounced by 23 points in their previous two contests but demonstrated the type of grittiness that head coach Tom Coughlin has espoused since taking the reins in New York.
The Giants stagger into this game with injuries to Victor Cruz, out with a knee injury and their top two running backs Peyton Hillis and Andre Brown both sidelined with concussions. This will most likely pave the way for rookie Michael Cox to make the second start of his career. Eli Manning will once again be pulling the trigger but trying desperately not to add to his league high 26 interceptions.
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NFL Free Pick:
Here’s what we’ve got. Two lousy teams trying to end the season on a high note. When last they met earlier this month in Washington the Giants handed their hosts a 24-17 defeat. But RG3 was trying to play through pain and his lack of mobility was clearly illustrated by the five sacks he was unable to avoid.
The Giants won’t have much of a running game with Andre Brown sitting and therefore Manning will go to the air. But I am not as concerned about New York’s ability to torch the Washington secondary because the Skins have a not-so-secret weapon in Alfred Morris who should have a big day against New York despite his meager total in their previous game. Cousins’ ability to hit his targets will correlate directly to more space for Morris when he does get the ball. Washington gets the outright win here but just in case, grab the points in your NFL picks.
NFL Pick: Washington +4 (-120 buying a ½) at Bet365.com.