This matchup was certainly more attractive over the summer, back when neither the Giants nor Redskins were decimated by injuries, bad luck and poor form, and the NFC East was legitimately a four-team race.
Now, after 11 weeks and a lot of losing football, Washington and New York are at the bottom of the division. And while it's too early to dust off the tired "All that's left to play for are bragging rights!" storylines, the number of good teams in the NFC makes the postseason problematic for the Redskins and practically impossible for the Giants.
As it stands, the Giants are 2-8 and have the NFC's second-worst record, ahead of only the 49ers. There are eight teams between them and the final wild-card spot. One of those teams is the Redskins, who at 4-6, are five spots out of the playoff conversation. It's only a matter of time before we can close the books on Big Blue's forgettable season; meanwhile, Washington will need some 2012-level magic to avoid missing the postseason for the second straight year.
How to watch, stream
- Kickoff: Nov. 23, 8:30 p.m. ET
- TV: NBC (check local listings)
- Streaming: fuboTV (Try for free)
So you're telling me there's a chance
It has only been five years since Robert Griffin III was the Redskins' much-beloved rookie quarterback and future of franchise. But Washington's 2012 season got off to a rocky start and the team headed into the Week 10 bye with a 3-6 record. Things were so hopeless that then-coach Mike Shanahan had all but given up on the season.
"Now you're playing to see who obviously is going to be on your football team for years to come," Shanahan said in early November 2012, via the Washington Post. "Now we get a chance to evaluate players and see where we're at. Obviously, we're not out of it statistically, but now we find out what type of character we've got and how guys keep on fighting through the rest of the season."
But a funny thing happened on the way to evaluating the roster for 2013; starting in Week 11, the Redskins reeled off seven straight wins -- including five against division opponents -- to finish 10-6, win the NFC East and qualify for the postseason. Quarterback Kirk Cousins was a rookie that season, appearing in three regular-season games for an injured RG3. That scenario would play out in some form over the next two seasons and by 2015 Cousins had replaced Griffin atop the depth chart. Now one of the league's best quarterbacks, Cousins faces long odds to replicate in 2017 what happened over the final two months of the 2012 season.
According to SportsLine's Stephen Oh, the Redskins' playoff chances currently stand at 1.4 percent, which is better than the Giants' (while mathematically still in it, Oh puts their chances at precisely 0.0 percent) but slightly behind the Cowboys (8 percent) and not in the same galaxy as the Eagles (99 percent).
So, yes, we're telling you there's a chance.
Good news: Giants on a one-game winning streak
Bad news: Everything else.
Yes, the Giants beat the Chiefs last week in a game that featured one touchdown and five field goals. But the week before that, the Giants lost to the previously winless 49ers. The only thing more demoralizing would be losing to the Browns. There are reasons for the Giants' predicament, starting with general manager Jerry Reese's suboptimal job of assembling the roster.
"This roster -- it's my roster. I'm responsible for everybody on the roster and I'll take ownership to where we are right now with this 1-6 start," Reese said during the Giants' Week 8 bye, via ESPN.com.
The offensive line has been a liability all season, the free-agent acquisitions have been expensive non-factors and recent draft picks haven't panned out. Reese is on the hook for all these shortcomings. One thing he can't control, however, are injuries. And the Giants have been plagued with injuries this season. Fourteen players are currently on injured reserve, including all-world wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. He's joined by starters and key contributors Brandon Marshall, Weston Richburg, Mark Herzlich and Dwayne Harris.
But the biggest difference between this team and the 2017 version, which qualified for the playoffs, can be explained in two words.
At least that's the theory of Redskins coach Jay Gruden on what's changed from last season. "Without Odell Beckham, it's a huge difference. He's the best receiver in the league."
This explains why rookie first-round tight end Evan Engram leads the Giants in receptions with 41 for 452 yards and five touchdowns. Behind him is wideout Sterling Shepard (38/475/1), who missed the last game with a migraine and remains questionable to play on Thursday. Which brings us to this depressing stat:
Two takeaways: Injuries have derailed both teams' seasons.
The Redskins lost one of their best players last week when running back Chris Thompson fractured his fibula. He joins Terelle Pryor, Su'a Cravens, Jonathan Allen, Mason Foster and 11 other players on injured reserve.
If you're a glass-half-full type, this is an opportunity for others to play well. With that in mind ...
Dispatches from Fantasy Island
It's slim pickings this week, which makes sense given the two injury-ravaged rosters. That said, if you need a wide receiver, CBSSports.com fantasy expert Dave Richard has a name for you:
Jamison Crowder. Bank on Crowder picking up some of the slack left behind by Chris Thompson's season-ending leg injury. Thompson was a big-time short-area target of Kirk Cousins, something that fits into Crowder's game since he plays the most in the slot and has plenty of established chemistry with the quarterback. What really stands out is Crowder's 32 targets in his last three games -- proof that Cousins isn't quite spreading the ball around to all of his receivers like he was earlier in the year.
Eli Manning, (reluctant) motivational speaker
It took a loss to the 49ers that dropped the Giants to 1-8 before Eli Manning finally snapped. But his impassioned pregame speech ahead of last Sunday's victory over the Chiefs worked, so maybe he should make it a weekly ritual.
"Eli is the heartbeat of our team," running back Orleans Darkwa said this week, via ESPN.com. "Pregame, he gave a fiery speech that got everybody riled up, and to have a guy like that, that has been through so much, that's got those two Super Bowl rings, we follow him. We follow his footsteps in everything, so to have him come up there -- it just shows the weight that he carries on this team and he's definitely up for it. ...
"Everybody tries to follow his footsteps because at the end of the day, he's been there, he's done that as far as reaching to the promised land and getting those two Super Bowl rings. Everybody is trying to push for that goal, so we try to follow his footsteps as much as possible."
So why did it take Manning two-and-a-half months to finally weigh in?
"I mean, he talks to us a lot," Darkwa explained. "I would say I guess the difference [Sunday] was just you could sense the fire in his voice. But at the end of the day, Eli is going to be Eli. He shouldn't change the way he commands the room. He shouldn't change the way he talks to us and that's just how he is. That's how he leads us, and like I said, if the Super Bowl rings don't hold any weight, then I don't know what else should. You got to be able to follow a guy like that and listen to what he says."
Who ya got?
Half the CBSSports.com experts think the Redskins will cover the seven-point spread at FedEx Field while all six experts expect the Redskins to win outright.
"The Giants showed some life last week in upsetting the Chiefs. I expect them to be feisty here too against their division rival. The Redskins need to win here to have any real playoff shot. The Giants will make it close, but Washington finds a way." -- Pete Prisco, who has the Redskins winning, 20-17