EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants (4-9) will try to win their second game in a row Sunday when they host Washington (3-10) at 1 p.m. ET at MetLife Stadium. Three things we'll be watching extra closely:
1. One again, the pass protection. We all spent the week joking about Giants quarterback Eli Manning showing up on the injury report with a back injury. Manning will surely play. He doesn't miss games. But the fact is that he was dinged up after Sunday's game in Tennessee, and the amount of pressure he's faced this year should be having a cumulative effect. Just because Manning is the most durable quarterback in the league doesn't mean the Giants can let him sit back there and take a pounding. It was Washington that knocked him out of the game in Week 17 last year with an ankle injury that ultimately required surgery, and outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan ranks eighth in the league with 11.5 sacks. The Giants' line hasn't shown it could stand up to tough pass rushers, and it gets another chance to try Sunday.
2. The Jason Pierre-Paul/Trent Williams matchup. Williams is Washington's Pro Bowl left tackle. He's been banged-up a bit this year, but he remains a tough test for even the best pass-rushers in the league. Pierre-Paul has turned it on of late, as has the entire Giants pass rush, which has recorded 15 of its season-total 34 sacks in the last two weeks. They've been using blitzes and getting pressure on quarterbacks with defensive backs and linebackers, but it starts up front, and if Williams can handle Pierre-Paul one-on-one, it'll be tougher for the rest of the Giants' pass-rushers to get home and hit Colt McCoy, Robert Griffin III or whoever's playing quarterback for Washington.
3. The run game. With starting running back Rashad Jennings back healthy, will rookie Andre Williams return to the bench after last Sunday's 130-yard breakout? The Giants still want to feed Jennings the ball as much as possible, but the answer to the question likely lies in how much they believe Jennings can absorb physically. Jennings is still far and away the better option in the passing game, and if he were 100 percent healthy, he'd be the clear No. 1 option on first and second downs as well. But if Jennings is still hobbled by the early-season knee injury, the late-season ankle injury or both, Williams could rotate in at the goal line or if the game gets out of hand.