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ESPN Insider- 'Skins v. Giants, 10 Things to Watch


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After breaking down film of both teams, Scouts Inc. offers 10 things to watch in this week's Redskins-Giants matchup.

1. Washington needs to expand the offense for Jason Campbell: Campbell is entering his fifth season and has the tools to make all the throws, so expanding the passing-game package for him will be important. Look for Redskins coach Jim Zorn to attack all levels of the field.

2. Albert Haynesworth's impact: The Redskins made one of the biggest splashes in free agency when they landed Haynesworth. This impressive defensive tackle could be the key to stopping the excellent ground attack of the Giants. Haynesworth has outstanding power to push the pocket and be a disruptive in this game.

3. More balance in the backfield for Washington: Many clubs have gone with at least a two-back rotation in establishing their ground game. It would appear that Ladell Betts will be utilized more often this season to give talented runner Clinton Portis more rest and thus more durability.

4. Look for maximum protection from the Redskins: Zorn is well aware of how aggressive the Giants defense likes to be. New defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan probably will take the same approach that his predecessor Steve Spagnuolo did, with lots of pressure from different areas of the defense. Campbell can be effective if given time in the pocket so look for extra blockers to stay in to protect him.

5. Matchup to watch: Redskins LT Chris Samuels vs. Giants DE Osi Umenyiora: The battle between Samuels and Umenyiora should be a key to the outcome in this game. Umenyiora is an intense, athletic player who excels at pressuring the quarterback, but he missed the 2008 season with a knee injury. Samuels is a 10-year veteran with excellent skills, but this won't be an easy task.

6. New York will make a statement in their opener: Tom Coughlin and his staff will want to establish their identity early in the season by running the football with their two talented backs. Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw complement each other as a "thunder and lighting" tandem. Attacking the Washington defense with their power running attack will be a challenge with Haynesworth in the middle.

7. Expect rookie WR Hakeem Nicks to be a factor: Though Nicks is listed as a backup, look for Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride to get him the ball. With Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer gone from a year ago, QB Eli Manning is going to need Nicks. Nicks has shown excellent hands and ability to be a playmaker downfield.

8. Pressure from the Giants: The Giants' defensive success is predicated on an aggressive approach. They like to dictate the tempo of the game and in this NFC East matchup we should see them throw the kitchen sink at the Redskins. The Giants like to run their speed rusher up the field off the edge but also like to attack the "A gaps" with their linebackers.

9. Questions about Eli: As well as Manning has performed in the past, he didn't appear particularly sharp in preseason or at the end of 2008. Manning, who recently signed a lucrative contract extension, will need to step up his game against a hungry Redskins club. His passer rating is way down and the loss of Burress might hurt him more than most may believe.

10. Matchup to watch: TE Chris Cooley vs. Giants linebackers: A big key in this game is how well Campbell will perform when he needs to convert and move the chains. His most reliable target has been Cooley, and we should look for him to see lots of action in this game. Cooley can stretch the field with his speed and quickness and has a great ability to get separation from opposing linebackers.

Predictionnyg.gifWashington 17

New York 24

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