At one time the Giants and the Redskins waged mighty warfare on the battlefields of the NFC East. Joe Gibbs coached the Skins, Bill Parcells the Giants, and in half of the eight years they faced each other, from 1983 through '90, one of them went to the Super Bowl. Parcells won two championships, Gibbs one.
In the ensuing years one of the teams would occasionally raise its head, but seldom both in the same season. Until now. They share the division lead, at 4-2, along with Philadelphia, and if Washington and New York should both finish with winning records, it'll be the first time since 1997.
Their November meeting that year was certainly one of the wackiest in the series. It ended 7-7, and there has been only one tie in the NFL since. Redskins quarterback Gus Frerotte celebrated a second-quarter TD by banging his head against the padding on the wall beyond the end zone, spraining his neck. There were three turnovers in overtime. The Skins were moving into field goal range when wideout Michael Westbrook became enraged by a call and slammed his helmet; the 15-yard penalty hurt their chances for a field goal.
This season Washington had its share of heart-stoppers until catching a laugher against the 49ers on Sunday. After the Broncos' Tatum Bell and the Chiefs' Priest Holmes had broken big plays against the Skins the previous two weeks, Washington's defensive coaches bit the bullet and gave the gift of life to their own big-play guy, linebacker LaVar Arrington, who had been languishing on the bench. He promptly rang up a team-high nine tackles.
The Redskins are riding the wave, and they figure to throw a serious blitz package at the Giants' Eli Manning this Sunday. Why not? Dallas, which beat New York in OT, and Denver, which lost to the Giants in the last five seconds, did it. For a while both had great success, but Manning is a gamer. He simply wore out the rush by completing passes, finishing off the Broncos with a 15-play, 83-yard drive against a defense that looked spent.
I think the Redskins' best chance is to force early turnovers with their pressure package. It could happen, but I'm riding with destiny's darlings. The Giants are the pick.
You could almost feel Donovan McNabb's pain from that abdominal strain as he tried to get his passes to behave early in Philly's game against San Diego. He zeroed in after he got warmed up, but he still looked shaky whenever he tried to get something going downfield. The Eagles won a game they shouldn't have, on the return of a blocked field goal, and I think their luck will run out against the Broncos. Denver to win it.
I've always been a Jeff Garcia fan, and now that he's got a second life in Detroit, I'm not going to quit on him. The Lions to capture undisputed first place in the NFC North with a hard-fought win over the Bears. I've predicted a maiden victory for Houston before and gotten killed; let's try it again: The Texans to beat the Browns.
I'm looking hard for an upset. Could it be Kansas City at San Diego? Nope, the Chargers to bounce back. Dolphins against the Saints? Nope, New Orleans deserves a win after the hosing it's been getting from the officials. Who, then, will suffer an upset? Nobody, and that includes Pittsburgh, which will beat Baltimore in the Monday-nighter. --Paul Zimmerman
Last week: 6-2 Season: 40-22
Dr.Z writes for the web every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at SI.com/nfl.
Arrington is off the bench, wreaking havoc.
Garcia has given the Lions confidence.