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Giants rolling on emotion


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Game of the Week

Washington at N.Y. Giants, 1 p.m.

After what the Giants experienced this week I'd hate to be the next team playing them. So this week's sympathy vote goes to Washington, a team in the right place at the wrong time.

The Giants will be playing five days after the death of owner and NFL patriarch Wellington Mara.


The Giants will be playing five days after the death of owner and NFL patriarch Wellington Mara. (AP)

The Redskins will play New York close -- heck, they play everyone but San Francisco close -- but I don't know how they compete with the flood of emotions that engulf the Giants' locker room. First, there was that last-second win over Denver. Then there was the loss of owner Wellington Mara. New York is a good team. Now they're a good team on a mission.

Quarterback Eli Manning hasn't lost at home this season and has 15 touchdown passes in his past seven starts. Now, I know what you're thinking: He hasn't faced a defense like Washington. That's fair enough, but the Giants have more weapons than Kansas City, and the Chiefs put 28 up on Washington. OK, so they did it thanks to three Redskins fumbles and linebacker LaVar Arrington did nothing more than make a couple of cameos that afternoon.

I still think there's too much here for Washington's defense or quarterback Mark Brunell to pull the upset. Granted, Brunell should take advantage of the league's 31st-ranked pass defense, but the Giants have too much going for them -- and I'm talking about playing at home, the emotion, Eli, you name it.

Mano a mano: Washington wide receiver Santana Moss vs. the Giants' cornerbacks, particularly Will Allen. Moss is a perfect fit for the Redskins' offense, producing 100 yards receiving in four of the past five games, and he's a perfect weapon Sunday. The Giants spotted opponents five 100-yard receivers in six games this season.

Injury update: The Giants this week put linebacker Barrett Green on injured reserve, shelving him for the year -- and maybe ending his career with the team. Green was no factor, playing only on special teams against St. Louis this season. Linebacker Carlos Emmons (slight pectoral tear) and wide receiver Plaxico Burress (shoulder) didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday, and both are listed as questionable. The Redskins have no serious injuries expected to keep starters out of Sunday's game.

Redskins @ Giants

Washington 2005: 4-2 Stat 2005: 4-2 N.Y. Giants






Pt. Scored:

Pt. Allowed:








Something to consider: The Giants have more takeaways (19) than anyone but Cincinnati, and have converted them into 57 points.

Three games I'd like to see

Miami at New Orleans (Baton Rouge), 1 p.m.

Who has the home game here? The Saints? Nick Saban? Ricky Williams?

For Saban, it's a return to the LSU campus, where he won a national title. For Williams it's a return to Louisiana, where he once starred for the Saints. For New Orleans, it's just another stop on the See the USA in a Most Unusual Way Tour.

The Saints can't catch a break this year. One week it's Hurricane Katrina. Then it's the NFL office. Last week it was officials turning an Ernie Conwell catch into a St. Louis interception and game-clinching touchdown. Now they open in Baton Rouge -- their third different home stadium this season -- and, presto, we have Saban pop up on the scene. Face it, Jim Haslett, this isn't your year.

Nevertheless, I like the Saints here because I don't like Miami on the road, and I do like New Orleans when it's not playing at the Meadowlands. I know, the Saints make too many mistakes. Their 21 turnovers lead the league. But they have been close in their past two losses and were 1-1 in San Antonio, losing only on a disputed field goal by Atlanta as time ran out. Miami hasn't played well the past two weeks, and now it's the Dolphins who can start talking about hurricane distress. After an impressive season-opening defeat of Denver, they have lost four of five.

Something to consider: New Orleans might have found something in running back Antowain Smith. At least it hopes it has. In his career his teams are 12-1 when he rushes for 100 yards, including 2-0 against Miami.

Kansas City at San Diego, 4:05 p.m.

I don't know what to make of the Chiefs. They're better than they were a year ago, but are they as good as they were last weekend in Miami? If so, San Diego's in for another close call.

This is a huge game for the Chargers, in danger of falling out of the AFC West with a loss, and if it's tight I'm with the Chiefs. The Chargers' past seven losses have been by four or fewer points. The pity of San Diego is that if it were in the NFC it would be the conference's best team; in the AFC, it will struggle to make the playoffs -- and right now the forecast isn't promising.

Look for LaDainian Tomlinson to have a big game. Not only do the Chiefs allow an average of 4.2 yards per rush, but L.T. never, ever, ever has two bad games in a row. The guy has run for under 50 yards only 10 times in his career, and in five of the games that followed he eclipsed 100 -- including two for 200; in the other five he averaged 82.4 yards. There is no need to remind the Chiefs. They see him twice a year and, besides, their track record against him isn't all that bad: Three 100-yard games, a per-carry average of 4.2 yards and two of his past three starts with 34 and 46 yards.

The Chiefs' offense is beginning to find itself now that tackle Willie Roaf is back, but the club still misses an outside receiving threat and hasn't found out how to get the ball to Tony Gonzalez in the end zone. That will make it tough to outscore San Diego at home, where the Chargers average 30 points a game.

Something to consider: Eight of the past nine games in this series were decided by seven or fewer points.

Philadelphia at Denver, 4:15 p.m.

At last, Eagles coach Andy Reid conceded the obvious: He must run the ball more. But how do you run if you don't have the legs? The Eagles' top backs are Brian Westbrook and Donovan McNabb -- yes, Donovan McNabb, the quarterback -- and one guy has trouble moving, while the other has trouble moving a pile.

It's a problem, and if you don't believe me look up the numbers: Over the past three games Philadelphia has 70 yards rushing. Eighteen backs last weekend had more. The Eagles are last in rushing, first in passing and desperately clinging to a three-way tie for first in their division. If they're determined to produce a rushing attack they might have to wait a week: Denver is fifth against the run and earlier this season held Jacksonville to a franchise-low 12 yards -- at Jacksonville, no less.

This is not what you'd call an ideal matchup for the visitors: Denver hasn't lost at home, and its quarterback, Jake Plummer, is 15-3 there. What's more, he hasn't thrown an interception since Sept. 18. In fact, the Broncos don't have a turnover in their past 21 quarters, and that could be a factor here: Philadelphia won its past two games thanks to mistakes. Oh, yeah, then you have Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell. The Eagles could stop LaDainian Tomlinson. But can they choke off two backs with 450 yards each? Stay tuned.

Something to consider: You have to wonder how much longer McNabb can keep up this pace. The guy's hurt, yet the Eagles are wearing him out. Over his past four games he has averaged 45 attempts -- including a franchise-record 54 against San Diego last Sunday

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