Washington Redskins vs. New York Giants: Full Washington Game Preview
What a difference a year makes?
This time a year ago, the New York Giants were upstaging the Washington Redskins before a national audience to the tune of 45-14. The Thursday night tilt saw Kirk Cousins throw four interceptions and Eli Manning toss five touchdowns.
Both quarterbacks will return on Thursday night football, but that's where the similarities end. In the polar opposite of last season, the Redskins defense and running game have propelled the team early in 2015. With the NFL's 20th-ranked defense in total yards allowed and 19th-ranked rushing attack in 2014, Washington sits atop both statistical categories through two games.
Next up, the Redskins look to end their four-game losing streak to the Giants.
Here is the Week 3 preview for Washington.
Location: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
Time: 8:25 p.m. ET, Thursday
Week 2 Results and Recap
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After putting to waste a dominant first half in the season opener, the Redskins turned in a complete game in their 24-10 victory over the St. Louis Rams in Week 2.
Led by rookie Matt Jones' 123 yards, the team churned out 182 yards on the ground. Fulfilling his role as a game manager, Cousins added 203 yards through the air while playing turnover-free football.
With the defense holding St. Louis to 213 total yards, these contributions were more than enough for the team to avenge last season's shutout at the hands of the Rams.
The gridiron wasn't the only place Washington registered a win in Week 2, though. With the Philadelphia Eagles and Giants both falling, the team now stands alone in second place in the NFC East.
It gets better. With Tony Romo and Dez Bryant both out for the foreseeable future, the division-leading Dallas Cowboys are in a vulnerable state.
With matchups against their winless division cohorts the next two weeks, the Redskins will have an opportunity to distance themselves from their NFC East competition.
News and Notes
Redskins Cut CB David Amerson
A starting cornerback for Washington just a year ago, David Amerson's tenure with the team that drafted him 51st overall in 2013 is now over, per ESPN.com's John Keim.
Following what occurred in the Week 2 win, the move comes as little surprise.
Despite being down a suspended Chris Culliver, in addition to DeAngelo Hall playing hurt, the team never called Amerson's number against St. Louis. It instead turned to Will Blackmon, who had been with the team for less than a week.
Taking this into account, the writing was on the wall for Amerson's ouster.
With that said, the only thing to mourn here for Washington is its 2013 draft class. Only Jordan Reed and Chris Thompson remain from the seven-player class.
NFC East Contenders?
An afterthought in the NFC East race to start the season, Washington now has a realistic chance of winning the division—in the opinion of the Washington Post's Neil Greenberg, that is.
If you cite the Giants' fourth-quarter meltdowns, the Eagles' uninspiring play and Dallas' injury woes, Greenberg isn't too far off base.
Adding fuel to the fire, he also sports some numbers to support his line of thinking:
Let's not crown the Redskins just yet, though. As impressive as the team looked against the Rams and Miami Dolphins, let's remember it was against the Dolphins and the Rams—when was the last time they made the postseason? Furthermore, the games were at home.
Starting this week against the Giants, Washington will have to show it can take its early act on the road. Over the past two seasons, the Redskins have registered just two wins on the road.
With little time in between their Week 2 and 3 contests, the Redskins are fortunate not to be hammered by injuries. That isn't to say they're injury-free, though.
Perry Riley was a casualty in the St. Louis game, suffering a calf injury. New York isn't reliant on the run, but in the aftermath of what tight end Larry Donnell did to Washington's defense in 2014, the team needs a healthy Riley and Keenan Robinson to potentially throw at him.
Speaking of tight ends, without Jackson, Reed should factor heavily into the team's passing attack. His hamstring injury didn't prevent him from producing against the Rams (82 yards), and despite his injury history, he's a player worth monitoring in this game.
All injury statuses from ESPN.com.
Matt Jones and Alfred Morris vs. New York Front Seven
The combination of Matt Jones and Alfred Morris has gotten Washington this far. Why stop running now?
Well, New York does boast the NFL's No. 3-ranked rushing defense. The Giants are surrendering a meager three yards per carry and 68 yards rushing per game. In two matchups against New York last year, for his part, Morris tallied 112 yards.
Keep this in mind, though, it came on just 26 carries. Sporting a healthy average of 4.3 yards per rush in 2014, Morris' lack of yards had more to do with a pass-happy attack than his own performance.
With the Skins averaging an NFL-high 37 attempts per game in 2015, Morris won't be short on touches this time around, unless Jones gets his fair share.
Redskins Pass Rush vs. Giants Offensive Line
The result hasn't always been sacks, but a strong pass rush has contributed to Washington's No. 2-ranked passing defense.
In stark contrast to the 8.2 yards it allowed per passing attempt last year, the team is surrendering just 5.7 yards per pass in 2015.
This came against Nick Foles and Ryan Tannehill, though. Against Eli Manning, the Skins will be dealing with a whole different animal. Consistency has long been an issue for Manning but not against Washington.
In 2014, Manning threw for 550 yards and seven touchdowns against the Redskins. He completed 69.9 percent of his passes while throwing just one interception. On 73 attempts, he was sacked just twice. For the Redskins to win here, these numbers have to change, starting with the latter.
The Giants have surrendered just three sacks thus far, but in rookie left tackle Ereck Flowers, they have a vulnerability up front. Predictably inconsistent at this point, Flowers is also nursing an ankle injury he suffered in the opener, per CBSSports.com.
With its untested secondary, it's a must for Washington to exploit this matchup.
Redskins X-Factor: CB Chris Culliver
Suspended in Week 2, Culliver will return to the lineup with the task of slowing down Odell Beckham Jr.
Culliver was signed to handle big matchups in the first place. While he played no part in New York's Week 4 victory last season, Beckham was a central figure in his team's 24-13 Week 15 win.
Posting 12 receptions, 143 yards and three touchdowns, he was the Giants offense. On the day in question, Rueben Randle was second in receiving with 30 yards.
With Victor Cruz sidelined, it's been much of the same in 2015. Running back Shane Vereen trails Beckham in targets and yards. Preston Parker, who was second among the team's receivers in yards and catches, was recently cut, per ESPN.com's Dan Graziano.
Shutting out Beckham is out the question. But if Culliver can limit the yards Beckham accumulates after the catch, Washington will be in a strong position to win this game.
Prediction: Redskins 23, Giants 20
For the majority of the first two games, the winless Giants outplayed the undefeated Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons. Two years running, the Redskins haven't been able to buy a road win. As a result, there's a case for New York to win here.
But it won't.
Washington's standing as the NFL's top defense won't last the test of time, but the mirage will endure another week.
The Giants have been one-dimensional on offense for a season-plus now, and that doesn't figure to change this week. While this wasn't a problem in the past because of the Skins' porous secondary, Manning won't prosper this time around with the lack of weapons at his disposal.
It's been Beckham or bust for New York's passing game in 2015. While he's a threat to score whenever he touches the ball, a fresh Washington defense will make this a difficult feat to accomplish.
Led by a run-first offense, Washington has dominated its opposition in time of possession. Not only has this kept its defense fresh, but it's taken the ball out the hands of the turnover-prone Cousins.
Without the turnovers and pass rush it manufactured in last year's matchups, New York won't get the additional possessions it needs to establish rhythm on offense.
As such, going into what equates to a mini-bye week, the Redskins will be 2-1 and in the thick of the NFC East race.