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Giants vs. Redskins: What to Watch For

The Giants (0-2) host the Redskins (1-1) on Thursday night in their first divisional matchup of the season. While Big Blue’s first two games have been plagued by poor fourth quarter play, they are favored in tonight’s matchup against Washington. Here’s what to watch for as the Giants look for their first win of the season.

The Receivers

While the news surrounding WR Victor Cruz (calf) has been positive and he’s expected to return Week 4, the Giants will be without him once again on Thursday. Plus, the Giants released Preston Parker, who opened the season as the No. 3 receiver.

Odell Beckham will still dominate targets, and possibly see some action in the slot, but the Giants will need more production out of the other receivers as well.

(Photo: USA Today)

(Photo: USA Today)

Rueben Randle has been invisible through two games, catching just four passes on seven targets for 28 yards and no touchdowns. He should see plenty of opportunities to improve those numbers tonight.

Dwayne Harris, the Giants’ primary return man, is the favorite for No. 3 duties against Washington. He’s seen very limited time on offense through two games, and hasn’t even been targeted in the passing game. He does, however, have one carry for 11 yards to his credit.

Expect rookie Geremy Davis to see the field tonight, too. So far, he’s caught one pass for five yards.

The Giants may also look to TE Larry Donnell and RB Shane Vereen more in the passing game.

The Running Backs

Through two games, Washington has allowed 4.5 YPC to opposing running backs, so tonight is as good a time as any for Rashad Jennings to improve upon his concerning 2.9 YPC.

Jennings has dominated carries through two games with 22, while Andre Williams has 12 and Vereen has nine. But if Jennings continues to struggle, we could see the carry distribution shift to include more of Williams, who followed up a rough performance against Dallas by gaining 43 yards on just six carries (7.2 YPC) against the Falcons.

Vereen hasn’t done much in the running game, but continues to see plenty of targets. In fact, he has hauled in 12 of his 13 targets so far this season, and has averaged 10.2 YPR. Expect to see the same plan against Washington, after the Redskins allowed four catches to Rams RB Benjamin Cunningham last week.

Beason is Back

The Giants finally get their defensive captain back, as ILB Jon Beason (knee) is expected to play Thursday.

Rookie Unai’ Unga will return to the bench, and while Unga did pretty well in Beason’s absence, a healthy Beason brings a different style of play to the table.

Jon Beason (Associated Press)

(Photo: Associated Press)

His 2014 season was cut short due to injury, but in 2013, Beason was a beast for Big Blue (pardon the alliteration). The Giants will hope the veteran brings that intensity and skill with him tonight against the Redskins, and his return means they should have an easier time defending Redskins RB Alfred Morris, as well as impressive rookie Matt Jones.


It’s kind of ridiculous to call any Week 3 game a “must-win”, but history tells us this is as close as it gets for the Giants.

Since the playoffs expanded to 12 teams in 1990, only three teams have made the playoffs after an 0-3 start.

The Giants had victory in their grasp during their first two games, but made some boneheaded mistakes and poor decisions late to let them slip away.

Not sure what else I can say about this other than the fact they can’t let it happen again tonight. They’ll be on national TV, at home, and a loss would put them at 0-3.

That means better clock management, less boneheaded drops (no Parker should help that), a defense that bends and doesn’t break late in the game, and ABSOLUTELY NO DELAY OF GAME PENALTIES AT HOME!

The Verdict

Tom Coughlin has to know the Giants playoff hopes (and perhaps, consequently, his job) hangs in the balance tonight. A loss would force the Giants to somehow get an unprecedented playoff berth after an 0-3 start. Despite his blunders through two games, I think he is a great leader of men and should have his team up for this game.

Truth be told, the Giants have actually played pretty well in both of their first two games, save for late-game mistakes. Hopefully tonight is the start of the turnaround. I think they can do it. If they want to make the playoffs, the Giants don’t have much other choice.

Giants 24, Redskins 14

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