The New York Giants are not in panic mode yet. Let's just call this deep concern. The Giants have played pretty good football for about 56 minutes of both of their opening games. Its the last four minutes of the total of the fourth quarters that have not gone well for the Giants, and as a result, they have lost their opening two games after holding leads of 10 points. It is a disturbing trend, to be sure, but not an insurmountable one.
In fact, other than those four minutes of football, The Giants may be playing better than anyone in the NFC East, with not much to show for it. To be sure, there are a few real concerns, but there are no issues that are uncorrectable. Hope is what is driving the G-Men to believe that they can quickly turn things around, starting with a Week 3 win at MetLife Stadium against the Washington Redskins.
The Redskins are a team,that despite their recent win, are constantly simmering in controversy and confusion. Sunday's performance was a good one against what many think is a quality team, but it's hard to measure that this early in the season. The Redskins were able to play well against the St. Louis Rams and to piece together a very strong defensive performance.
The Redskins' running game was stellar, minus a few missteps, behind their young running back Matt Jones, and veteran Alfred Morris, combining for 182 yards on 37 carries. Quarterback Kirk Cousins was also solid, going 23-of-27 for 203 yards and a touchdown. However, there are still many questions as to the validity of just how good this Redskins team is.
With all of the things that are happening in the division, with major, team-changing injuries in Dallas, or major team problems in Philadelphia, the Redskins and the Giants seem ready to take full advantage and this game could go along way towards seizing a level of control in the division.
Washington at New York
Kickoff: 8:25 p.m. ET
TV Channel: CBS/NFL Network
Spread: Giants -4
Three Things to Watch
1. Can Giants Correct Their Mistakes?
The Giants are four total minutes from being 2-0. Instead, they are 0-2, but of the nine teams in the same position, the Giants seem to be positioned among those capable of turning things around the quickest. They seem to be incredibly competitive,and incredibly capable to challenge any team left on their schedule. The biggest challenge to the Giants so far seems to be their inability to overthink or underthink end-of-game situations. They must close games out. Period. The Giants also need to find receivers who want to catch the football, and cut down on the large number of dropped passes. If they can do this on Thursday, they stand a good chance and they should come out fine.
2. Will the Real Defense Please Stand Up?
The Redskins are third in the league in scoring defense at 13.5 points per game through two contests. However they have built their stats on two teams that are not known for their offensive prowess. The Giants have given up just 23 points in the first three quarters of their two games, but have surrendered 14 in each of the fourth quarters, which is why they enter tonight's game tied for 19th in scoring defense (25.5 ppg). So the real question is which defense is the real great defense? The Giants will have an opportunity to prove that they can close out a team. The Redskins will have an opportunity to try and stop a team that can score and put up points. Whichever defense shows up and plays a full game, will be the one to win.
3. Can Kirk Cousins Continue to Manage Games Well?
So which Cousins will show up? The quarterback that went 21-of-31 for 196 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions in the Week 1 loss to Miami, or the one that was solid (23-for-27, 203 yds., TD) against a good Rams defense last Sunday? Cousins has yet to pick up back-to-back wins as Washington's starting quarterback. It will be interesting to see if he can build on last week's performance, especially given the short turnaround. Don't forget that Cousins also doesn't have the services of deep threat DeSean Jackson, who is sidelined by a separated shoulder.
Washington is riding high off of a great performance against a pretty good team, and are looking to build on that. New York has let two games slip away and are trying to stop the foolishness that has been occurring. So who wins on Thursday? Usually the team that comes with the greatest desperation and that is probably the Giants. The Giants don't just want to win, they must win in a division that has suddenly become pretty wide open, since the defending champion is down a starting quarterback, starting wide receiver, and the reigning NFL rushing champion. The Giants should be able to challenge their division rival in ways the Rams and the Dolphins could not. The key to the game will be the Giants' ability to play a full 60-minute game and not let the Redskins back in. Surely the Giants will not allow themselves to fall for this trap three times in a row, right?
Prediction: Giants 27, Redskins 20
— Written by Lloyd H. Spence, Jr., who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Spence also has written for the Dallas Morning News, Yahoo!'s Rivals.com, and ESPN Louisville. He can be heard on the radio of "Talkin NOIZ" and "The Football Show of Collin County." Follow him on Twitter @TalkinNOIZ.