EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — East Rutherford, N.J.--For the Washington Redskins, playing the New York Giants is pro football's version of playing blackjack against the house.
Giants coach Bill Parcells can count on his dealer, quarterback Phil Simms, to put between 17 and 27 points on the board.
After all, Simms has helped produce between 17 and 27 points -- no more, no less -- the past 11 games he's played against the Redskins the past six seasons -- a remarkable feat of consistency.
Parcells, who likes to play a safe, conservative game, counts on that being enough for his defense. It has been in nine of the past 11 non-strike games.
Simms has beaten five different Washington quarterbacks -- Joe Theismann, Jay Schroeder, Doug Williams, Mark Rypien and Stan Humphries -- during this string.
There were extenuating circumstances the only two times the Redskins beat Simms and the Giants in the past six seasons in non-strike games.
Schroeder did it both times, a 23-21 verdict in 1985 in which Theismann's leg was broken, and 23-19 in the strike year, 1987, when the Giants' defense couldn't hold a 19-3 lead in the second half.
Simms has guided the Giants to five straight victories over the Redskins since that 1987 loss and will attempt to make it six straight today at Giants Stadium.
Although Simms was knocked out at the end of the first quarter of last Sunday's 20-19 victory over the Phoenix Cardinals with an ankle injury, there seems to be little doubt he'll go today.
Simms, who declined to speak to Washington writers on a conference call last week, said in New York that he expects to be 100 percent by today. He said he won't play if he's not, because he doesn't want to hurt the team.
Parcells, who said Monday that Simms would start, said his quarterback was 100 percent by the middle of last week.
Regardless, it's unlikely that Simms would miss a game against the Redskins as long as he can walk onto the field.
"Phil Simms isn't playing now for a lot of reasons that a lot of players are playing," Parcells said. "Phil Simms is playing because he enjoys the game and he just wants to win. That's the only reason he's playing. He's not playing for recognition. He's not playing for money, and he's not playing for statistics. He's just playing because he enjoys the competition. Not that he's not making a good living doing it."
Simms, who is earning $1.4 million in base salary this year, will be 35 Saturday -- an age when he savors the victories.
A lot of quarterbacks might get frustrated running the conservative Giants offense with its emphasis on the running game. Simms thrives on it.
"He's a team player," Parcells said. "That's the best thing I can say about him. Just win the game, that's all he cares about. He doesn't care how we do it. He got over that five, six years ago."
The way Simms engineered the 24-20 victory over the Redskins two weeks ago was typical of the way he can burn them. He completed only 13 passes, but when he went long, he was effective. Three of his completions went for a total of 204 yards -- an 80-yard touchdown pass to Stephen Baker, a 63-yarder to Maurice Carthon and a 61-yarder to Mark Bavaro.
Emmitt Thomas, the Washington secondary coach, said Simms took advantage of Washington mistakes on the plays.
"A lot of younger quarterbacks or inexperienced ones, we would have had a chance to recover," Thomas said. "Not against Simms."
"He's persistent, he's tough and he overcomes adversity," Giants general manager George Young said.
Parcells said Simms is tough enough to survive in New York, where the scrutiny never seems to end.
"I think New York quarterbacks have had a tough time of it, going all the way back to Charley Conerly of the Giants and even in some cases Joe Namath of the Jets," Parcells said. "There's so much scrutiny and evaluation that I just think it's tough to survive, and I'm not just talking about football. I can remember when they were booing Mickey Mantle, if you can believe that."
Parcells said the New York fans are finally starting to appreciate Simms.
"I read a quote from Steve Grogan [of the New England Patriots] where he said they love you when you're young and they love you when you're old," Parcells said. "It's just that middle part you have to get through."
Simms has gone through that transition.
"They loved him when he was young because he was a new guy, and then he went through that middle part where they would question this and that, and now that he's older he's much more greatly appreciated," Parcells said.
But Parcells said he doesn't think the New York fans will really appreciate Simms until he's retired.
"I'm telling you, when he's gone, and whoever's playing here next, they'll be saying this about him, 'He's pretty good, but he's no Phil Simms.' "