EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., OCT. 25 -- Bad news for the Redskins: The ankle injury Phil Simms suffered against Phoenix is almost completely healed and he should start Sunday's rematch against Washington at Giants Stadium.

"I feel good," Simms said today. "I should be 100 percent by Sunday. If I'm not I won't play, because I don't want to hurt the team."

He is playing too well to let a sore ankle derail him. He leads all NFL quarterbacks with a rating of 107.5, almost six points better than runner-up Joe Montana's 101.6. Over a full season, Simms has never been higher than the 90.0 rating he had in 1987, when he played nine games. This year he has completed 75 of 121 passes (62 percent) for 1,020 yards, eight touchdowns and one interception.

"We're doing some things better with pass protection," said offensive coordinator Ron Erhardt. "We're giving him more time to throw. We're utilizing some different people for certain routes, and I think it's helping him."

Simms, 21st on the all-time NFL list with 27,255 yards, has led the Giants to their first 6-0 start.

"It's a much better game when you're winning," Simms said. "Absolutely. Everybody has more fun."

Simms has had a great time against the Redskins in recent years. The Giants have defeated Washington five times in a row and in eight of the last nine nonstrike games. On a larger scale, the Giants have been to the playoffs in four of the last five nonstrike seasons. Perhaps the most important constant on the team has been Simms.

"The best thing about having Phil now is that he knows the personnel in the league," said Coach Bill Parcells. "You don't have to tell him that this guy can do this and this guy can do that. He just looks at the team and he knows these guys and that's great for a coach."

Simms said: "I recognize the faces out there, much less the defenses. At Washington {in the Giants' 24-20 victory on Oct. 14}, I was startled at the snap of the ball about two or three times. But most of the time, you have a feeling for what they're going to do."

Simms will turn 35 on Nov. 3 and he's in the midst of his 12th season. He has thrown nearly 4,000 regular season passes and been sacked 402 times, so there aren't many strategic maneuvers he hasn't seen.

"I think Phil is a great player," said Lawrence Taylor, his teammate for 10 years. "When he has bad games, people get on his butt about it. But he comes back the next week and lights up the scoreboard. I feel he's a great quarterback and he goes out and proves it every week."

Except maybe last week, but that wasn't his fault. Late in the first quarter, Simms was sacked by Phoenix's Ken Harvey and Cedric Mack. The hit momentarily knocked him woozy and he had a slight sprain of his left ankle. Jeff Hostetler replaced Simms and led the Giants to two late scores and a dramatic 20-19 triumph.

Parcells, though comfortable with Hostetler as the backup quarterback, is not ready to put Simms in an easy chair. "I think he's a great competitor," Parcells said. " . . . He's a team player. All he cares about is winning.

"When he's gone, whoever's playing here, they'll be saying, 'Well, he's pretty good, but he's no Phil Simms.' I'm lucky to have the guy."

And the Redskins are unlucky to have to face him again.