WHEN THE REDSKINS HAVE THE BALL

No one is quite sure what the Redskins' offensive plan is. Coach Joe Gibbs said he has been preparing a special strategy for this game since the start of training camp. The Giants' defense is the NFL's best (223.3 yards allowed per game), mainly because of an awesome group of defensive linemen and linebackers. The secondary is good, but not great. For Redskins quarterback Stan Humphries to exploit the defensive backfield, he'll need time. That means stopping linebackers Carl Banks, Gary Reasons and -- especially -- Lawrence Taylor. The responsibility of containing the stunting Taylor will rest on more than one person, but tackle Jim Lachey will get the lion's share of Taylor duty. If Humphries gets time, he may be able to cash in on good matchups with the wideouts. The Posse -- Art Monk, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders -- will compete against a secondary that includes two veterans, cornerback Everson Walls and safety Dave Duerson. The Giants are allowing only 47.8 rushing yards per game, which may prevent the Redskins from unleashing Gerald Riggs and Earnest Byner. The biggest problem for Washington, however, may be getting their hands on the ball. The Giants lead the league in time of possession (36 minutes per game).

WHEN THE GIANTS HAVE THE BALL

Phil Simms is the NFC's second-ranked passer, but he doesn't have to throw much because he has Ottis Anderson, Lewis Tillman and Rodney Hampton in the backfield. But with standout rookie Hampton nursing a sore ankle, the tandem of Anderson and Tillman will handle the bulk of the ballcarrying load. But the Redskins' success against the run this year may force the Giants to the air more than they'd like. That may not be much of a panacea for the Redskins, because Simms is both accurate -- a 63 percent completion rate -- and dangerous. Hampton has been Simms's main target, and his injury will mean more playing time for sparkplug Dave Meggett, who leads the NFL with a 13.6-yard punt return average. Getting the ball into the end zone may be vital to the Giants, because they'll be playing only their second game with new kicker Matt Bahr, who has replaced the injured Raul Allegre.