The New York Giants salvaged their 2014 season on Sunday, at least for the time being, by getting their first win of the year. In Week 4, Eli Manning and company will play their first divisional matchup when they visit the Washington Redskins on “Thursday Night Football.”
New York avoided starting the season 0-3 for a second straight year with a victory over the Houston Texans at MetLife Stadium. In the team’s first two games, they lost by a combined 32 points.
Sunday marked the first time that the Giants looked impressive on the offensive end in 2014. New York scored just 14 points in each of its first two games. Both contests saw Manning throw two interceptions and the ground game fail to average more than three yards per carry.
The Giants are hoping their offensive outburst spills into Week 4, as the team scored more than 28 points for the first time since last year’s season opener. Manning registered his highest passer rating since 2012, and Rashad Jennings’s 176 rushing yards were a career-high.
It won’t be easy for New York to have that same type of success against Washington. The Redskins proved to be vulnerable in Week 3, allowing 37 points to the Philadelphia Eagles. However, as the second-highest scoring offense in the NFL, the Eagles have proven to be a much greater scoring threat than the Giants.
Despite their loss, which dropped them to 1-2 and tied them with the Giants for last place in the NFC East, the Redskins sport the league’s No.4 defense. Not only have they held opponents to 218 passing yards per game, but Washington’s rush defense is allowing less than 65 yards per game. In Philadelphia, LeSean McCoy was limited to 22 yards on 19 carries, after leading the league in rushing last year.
Robert Griffin III began the season as Washington's starter, but Kirk Cousins has filled in admirably in his absence. With an ankle injury likely to keep the quarterback out for half of the year, Cousins has been one of the league’s best quarterbacks in his two games. Even in Sunday’s loss, he threw for 427 yards and three touchdowns.
It’s unclear for how long Cousins can continue to play this well. Last year, the former fourth-round draft pick played in five games, but didn’t look like a reliable starter. He had his worst performance against the Giants, completing just 19 of his 49 pass attempts for 169 yards, no scores and two interceptions.
In their last two games, New York’s defense faced pedestrian quarterbacks and held them in check. The Giants intercepted Ryan Fitzpatrick three times in Week 3, and held Drew Stanton to 167 passing yards on just 14-of-29 passing in their Week 2 loss.
For the third straight week, “Thursday Night Football” will feature a divisional matchup. The contest will be broadcast nationally on two TV channels, with a simulcast appearing on CBS and the NFL Network at 8:25 p.m. ET.
Prediction: The Giants got a much needed win on Sunday, but they’ve yet to prove that they can be consistent on a week-to-week basis. Manning was uncharacteristically efficient, and Jennings had the best game of his career. As New York hits the road on a short week, the offense could look much more similar to the one from the first two weeks of 2014.
Prediction: Washington over New York, 27-16