It's fitting that the Giants have drawn the Redskins for Monday night's game that will determine whether or not they remain relevant in the 2009 NFL season. They're a traditional rival, if one actually has a long enough memory to remember when the 'Skins were a good team, but it goes beyond that. Everything the Redskins do fits with the narrative of this disappointing Giants season.
The Redskins have a ferocious pass rush, which means that the beleagured Giants offensive line is going to have its hands full. It may actually be a blessing in disguise that right tackle Kareem McKenzie won't be in the lineup because it's been about a year since he gave anyone reason to believe he was still a capable NFL lineman. Will Beatty may get beaten up, but it is time to turn the page and see if he can help keep Eli Manning upright long enough to keep the season alive.
Theoretically, the best answer for the Giants on offense is to try and run the ball down the throats of the forgiving Redskins run defense. It's pretty clear at this point that the Giants would be foolish to trust their running game to pick up key yards or hold onto the football. Keeping Manning off the turf and away from pressure is going to be paramount for an offensive line that's been a continual letdown this season.
While stopping the pass rush is significant for the Giants, creating some pass rush of their own is just as important. The Redskins offensive line is a patchwork collection of mediocre players which should bode well for a team that prides itself on getting after the quarterback.
Strike that, it should read a team that used to pride itself on getting after the quarterback. The guys in blue don't do that anymore and, much like the running game, it's getting harder and harder to believe that will change before the season is out. That means increased pressure on a secondary that gets burned more regularly than steaks in a narcoleptic's kitchen. They're undermanned -- Corey Webster didn't make the trip -- and undertalented, but they can come up with a performance to save the season tonight.
Will it happen? The Redskins aren't exactly world beaters so it would be unwise to write the Giants off completely. It's hard to keep summoning up faith that things are going to go differently, however.