Scouting the Giants
1 Eli Manning uses whomever he has » Wide receivers Hakeem Nicks, Domenik Hixon and Ramses Barden have all missed games, but Manning and the Giants' passing attack haven't been affected. Five different receivers have led the team in receiving yards in six games. Manning, the two-time Super Bowl MVP, is third in the NFL with 1,772 passing yards. With Nicks returning last week, the Giants' receiving crops will be at full strength against the Redskins. And the one main target who has stayed healthy all season, Victor Cruz, is tied for second in the NFL with six touchdown catches and has 496 yards receiving.
2 Where's the pass rush? » The names are still there -- Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck -- but the pass rush hasn't been. Those three defensive linemen have combined for just 5 1/2 sacks. The Giants are tied for 14th in the NFL with 14 sacks, and that's after their best performance of the season (six sacks) against the 49ers. Pierre-Paul was dominant on Sunday -- two sacks, one pass defense and three quarterback hits -- as the Giants' defense held San Francisco to just three points. But has the line turned a corner, or did it just take advantage of teeing off on a team that was getting blown out?
3 Running from the problem » In 2011, the Giants were last in the NFL in rushing. They drafted David Wilson out of Virginia Tech to help, but he has just 15 carries after fumbling in his first game -- although the rookie has flourished returning kicks. Journeyman Andre Brown also has been a nice surprise, rushing for 113 yards vs. the Panthers. But it has been Ahmad Bradshaw who has battled foot issues to lead the team with 449 yards, including 316 the last two weeks. Bradshaw became the first 100-yard rusher against the 49ers at Candlestick Park since Nov. 8, 2009.
4 In the trenches » While the backs will get most of the credit for the vastly improved running game, the offensive line has been the difference. New York is ninth in rushing, and Manning has been sacked only four times this year. The veteran group will pose a challenge for a Redskins team that has struggled to pressure the quarterback since the loss of Brian Orakpo.