New York under pressure

The Giants might have a winning record but fans are thoroughly disappointed.

After starting the 2009 NFL season 5-0 among the league’s elite the team has cracked and crumbled via a four-game losing streak.

Coming into this week New York is 7-6 and third in the NFC East after getting rattled by the Philadelphia Eagles last week.

That game showcased why the Giants have struggled: their defense. Allowing the Philly offense to rack up over 300 yards through the air is one thing but to have six teams pile up north of 220 passing yards is another.

It’s hard to say exactly what part of the defense is in worse shape: the banged up, inexperienced secondary that lacks playmakers like Kenny Phillips to break up big plays or the defensive line that has produced just 26 sacks.

At least stats-wise there is a ray of hope. Terrell Thomas has 66 tackles to lead the team and Osi Umenyiora has six sacks.

Offensively the Giants have had their issues. For part of the season Eli was playing hurt (and is really still not 100 percent), Brandon Jacobs was not running the ball with the same authority as last season and the receivers made mistakes in key situations.

The stats sheet at least gives all of those guys much solace. Manning has 3316 passing yards and 23 touchdowns, Jacobs has 782 yards and Steve Smith already has 1,053 receiving yards and five touchdowns.

Tonight the G-men hope to get back on track against division rival Washington at 8:30pm on ESPN.

At 4-9 the Redskins are in the cellar thanks to an offense that has struggled mightily to score. The squad ranks in the bottom half of the league in nearly every statistical category.

Bear in mind the team barely has a run game with or without Clinton Portis (who is out for the season after racking up just 494 yards and a TD).

Then again there have been some bright spots. Jason Campbell, even with his 12 picks and issues making deep throws, has 2966 yards and 17 TDs. Receiver Santana Moss has been a real chain mover with his 700 yards.

On defense Washington has held its own ranking fourth in passing yards (188) allowed and seventh in total yards allowed (305.5) per game.

A big reason for that success is the play of Andre Carter (tied for the team lead with 11 sacks) and London Fletcher (with a team-high 118 tackles).

Washington has played all their division foes tough this season and that should be no different tonight. Expect the Skins to hit hard, blitz a lot and make passing a tough task for Manning.

New York can break the game open if Jacobs steps up or Mario Manningham makes a great catch.

Tonight’s game has a defensive struggle written all over it. Washington has come up short in most of those games and New York has to step up for that trend to continue.

The gut feeling is that Washington’s defense will not break under pressure but this reporter is picking Michael Boley to step it up in a narrow 11-7 New York victory.