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Need to Know: Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Giants

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Need to Know: Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Giants

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, November 29, the day the Washington Redskins host the New York Giants.

Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Giants

—Giants left guard Justin Pugh and center Weston Richburg have been ruled out of today’s game, meaning that both teams will be without the left guard and center they started the season with. The Giants will shuffle the interior of their line, flipping right guard Geoff Schwartz from right guard to left, putting John Jerry at right guard, and plugging Dallas Reynolds in a center. I’ve been asked if the Redskins will try to blitz Eli Manning up the middle to try to take advantage of Jerry and Reynolds. I think they will try but Manning gets rid of the ball so quickly that it may be a futile effort. It’s probably better to keep defenders back in coverage.

—The more defenders you have on Odell Beckham Jr. the better. Manning to Beckham is the big edge the visitors will have today. Eventually Scot McCloughan would like to get the types of big, physical cornerbacks who can handle a receiver like Beckham. But today they don’t have anyone. Bashaud Breeland will try to break a string of three straight 100-yard games for the second-year receiver.

—Then again, Kirk Cousins should be able to pick out a target and make some hay all day against a Giants pass defense that is the worst in the NFL in terms of yards allowed. Part of their problem is that they don’t get much of a pass rush; they are tied for last in the NFL with 12 sacks.

—A good possibility for the player to be Cousins’ favorite target today is tight end Jordan Reed. He’s usually the QB’s preferred target anyway but the Giants have seen allowed the second-most fantasy points in the league to tight ends this year. In Week 3 in the Meadowlands this year Reed had his best day of the season in terms of yards gained, with six catches for 96 yards. On a side note, to the surprise of many, Reed was not on the injury report this week after leaving the Panthers game for a while with a knee injury. Perhaps he is learning to take care of himself, a good sign for his longevity in the NFL.

—The Giants are favored by 2.5 points. There is a perception out there that they are really a much better team than their 5-5 record indicates because they led at the two-minute warning in four of their five losses. But in terms of points they have scored 273 and given up 253. When your point differential is roughly equal at this point in the season that means that you are about a .500 team. Their record is no fluke. Giving up late leads also means that their defense isn’t very good. Cousins, Reed, DeSean Jackson, Matt Jones, and the rest should be able to move the ball against them. I’ve been saying the Giants will win all week but the call this morning is to take the Redskins plus the 2.5 with the expectation that they get the outright win in a shootout.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Redskins vs. Giants, 1 p.m., FOX

Days until: Monday night Cowboys @ Redskins 8; Redskins @ Bears 14; Bills @ Redskins 21

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Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Redskins fans were frenzied when Scot McCloughan said that Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback, but not a special one. The #KirkHive shuddered and the Kirk Haters celebrated.

McCloughan, the former Redskins GM who's wildly popular with fans, explained what few people will say publicly: Cousins is a skilled player but probably not deserving of the money he might make in free agency. 

Let's start with the obvious: Cousins is good.

He's a durable passer in a league that doesn't have enough of them. He's started the last 49 games for the Redskins and thrown for more than 4,000 yards each of the past three seasons. 

Now more obvious: He isn't great.

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Bleacher Report's Chris Simms, speaking on the #RedskinsTalk podcast, said Cousins ranks about 12th among NFL passers. It's top half of the league, but it's not Top 5 or even Top 10. 

Cousins has had tremendous games with the Redskins, like a near perfect performance against Oakland in 2017 or a dominant performance against Green Bay in 2016. 

Cousins has also been awful, as recently as Week 17 in New York a few weeks ago, or an equally stinky Week 17 game against the Giants two seasons ago. 

While some might view McCloughan's statement as controversial — "He’s a good player. Is he special? I don’t see special," he told Denver radio station 104.3 the Fan — it's not. 

Plenty of people agree with McCloughan, including some in Redskins Park. Last year, a source told NBC Sports Washington that the team believed they could get nearly as much production from Colt McCoy as Cousins provided. 

Even this year, Washington head coach Jay Gruden offered lukewarm praise of his quarterback.

When the season ended, asked to evaluate Cousins' play, the coach said, "When you’re 7-9, it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ There’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent [Williams] when he played was a Pro Bowl-type and Brandon [Scherff] when he was healthy was a Pro Bowl-type guy. Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, you know, we’re 7-9."

That quote made headlines when Gruden said it, much like McCloughan's comments now are circulating faster than Beltway traffic. 

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Truth is, it's not new. And it's not news.

There are coaches that think Cousins is only scratching the surface of his capabilities. Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay come to mind, but both of those coaches have other QBs likely for the long-term future. 

Cousins might end up being paid like a Top 3 quarterback in the NFL, and that might be the right move given the demand at the position. Will that make him a special passer?

Not if special is defined as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. Even Cousins wouldn't argue with that.

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Redskins Fan of the Year bracket: Which Washington supporter deserves the title?

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Redskins Fan of the Year bracket: Which Washington supporter deserves the title?

Every week during the 2017 Redskins season, NBC Sports Washington found two Redskins fans in the crowd and paired them in a head-to-head matchup on Twitter to determine the fan of the game.

And now that the season is over, it's time to take each of those winners, throw them into a NCAA Tournament-style bracket and let Twitter pick the Redskins Fan of the Year.

Starting on January 8 over on the @NBCSRedskins Twitter account, one matchup a day will be posted at 11 a.m., and fans will have 24 hours to vote for their favorite supporter by retweeting or liking depending on their preference. Week 1's winner will face off with Week 17's, Week 2's will play Week 16's, etc.

The winners will advance, and eventually, one member of the Burgundy and Gold faithful will stand above all the rest, earning the coveted title of Redskins Fan of the Year. 

Check out the results below, which'll be updated every day. To see the tweet that corresponded with each matchup, click the link after the date, but remember, retweets and likes submitted after the 24-hour period won't be counted.

ELITE 8 RESULTS

January 18: Round two, matchup one

The first Elite 8 matchup was... not close:

January 19: Round two, matchup two

The Elite 8's second tilt is underway. Vote now:


FIRST ROUND RESULTS

January 8: Round one, matchup one

This was a close one that came down to the last-minute, but at the 24-hour mark, Week 17's winner garnered justtttttttt enough retweets to move on.

January 9: Round one, matchup two

In this tournament, a giant Redskins chain is apparently worth more than a giant football hat.

January 10: Round one, matchup three

In the tournament's third showdown, we have our first winner from the Likes side:

January 11: Round one, matchup four

Was there anyway she wasn't gonna win, especially with the little Hogettes nose?

January 12: Round one, matchup five

Our fifth matchup's winner earned the most retweets of anyone up to this point:

January 15: Round one, matchup six

These three 'Skins fans had to witness Washington's Thursday night flop in Dallas, so it's only fair that they get to advance to the second round:

January 16: Round one, matchup seven

You'd think a turkey hat would be enough to capture a W, but not in this one:

January 17: Round one, matchup eight

The Elite 8 is now set with this showdown going to the retweets side: