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Posted at 09:00 AM ET, 12/15/2011

Giants offensive player to watch: Eli Manning

How he beats you: Now in his eighth NFL season, Manning has taken his game to another level. With the Giants’ run game struggling because of injuries to their backs, Manning has shouldered the load, putting up career bests in every category while throwing for 4,105 yards, 25 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions — down from 25 last season — while posting a passer rating of 95.5. Manning has been clutch late in games as well, leading six fourth-quarter comebacks this season for the Giants, who average 24.9 points a game (seventh in the league).

“He’s played well the whole year,” Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said. “Very few sacks, good touchdown-to-interception ratio. He’s playing with a lot of confidence. They’re throwing the heck out of the ball and scoring a lot of points.”

How to stop him: Like any quarterback, Manning will lose his effectiveness if he doesn’t have much time to throw. The Redskins will aim to swarm to Manning with their pass rush and rattle him, forcing him into poor throws. “He’s playing as good as any quarterback right now,” Redskins defensive lineman Stephen Bowen said. “He’s putting the team on his shoulders, but we’ve got to do a good job of making him antsy in the pocket, try to make him make some mistakes, and on the back end, get some picks.”

Bottom line: The Giants haven’t been able to rely on running backs Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs, because they have both battled injuries. As a result, New York ranks 32nd in the NFL in rushing with 85.8 yards per game. Because of Manning, however, the Giants have remained in the hunt. “He’s been playing awesome this year,” wide receiver Victor Cruz said. “I think some of the change is just his confidence in us. His confidence is sky-high. He’s just out there commanding the field and just having a real good rapport with all the receivers and things like that.”

By  |  09:00 AM ET, 12/15/2011

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