The Giants have five games remaining, and it’s hard not to look ahead to weeks fifteen and sixteen and see that the ones against the 8–4 Eagles and 7–4 Green Bay will go a long way toward determining the NFC East champ, or perhaps the Giants seed in the playoffs, or maybe even whether they make the postseason at all. Until then, though, the Giants will play two very winnable games, beginning with Washington on Sunday.
Philly’s win over Houston last night means the Giants already know they need to win to keep pace in the division. Washington is coming off a home loss to Brett Favre and his 4–7 Vikings — they’re the Giants’ next opponent, by the way — while the Giants are coming off half of a really good game against Jacksonville. The Giants will once again play shorthanded, particularly at receiver, but the good news is that help appears to be on the way — not quite yet, but at least sooner than expected. Via the Star-Ledger, David Diehl returned to practice this week (though he’s officially listed as doubtful), and Shaun O’Hara and Steve Smith took part in individual drills. (Hakeem Nicks, meanwhile, is aiming to return next week against Minnesota, a week earlier than expected.)
But that’s all at least a week away. This week, Eli Manning will have the same weapons at his disposal as he did last week, which is to say, fewer than usual, but enough to win. (A stat to remember: The Redskins defense has allowed 32 sacks this season, sixth most in the league, while the Giants pass rush has recorded 31 sacks, also sixth most in the league.) Even shorthanded, it’s a a game they should win, and with the playoff picture still very much unclear, the Giants can’t afford to lose many of those.