Shane Vereen will be a major part of the game plan on Thursday night.**
JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact -And this will be the case EVERY SINGLE WEEK this year. One can argue Vereen is the team's second best offensive weapon after Odell Beckham (and of course, Eli Manning). Vereen cannot be covered by linebackers, and the Giants should look to exploit him out of the backfield every chance they get.
DAN SALOMONE: Fact - Since it's a team-oriented task for opponents to defend Odell Beckham Jr., that leaves opportunities for players like Shane Vereen to gash defenses. Vereen, a running back, is tied with Beckham with 12 receptions, eight of which came last Sunday. Vereen recorded 76 receiving yards against the Falcons, including a long of 37 yards. "They give us their share of problems, that's for sure," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. "Obviously, add Vereen to the mix as far as an excellent back out of the backfield. So they have a lot of weapons and a Hall of Fame quarterback, so it's going to be a great challenge for our defense."
LANCE MEDOW: Fact -Since the regular season opener, Shane Vereen has made his presence felt as a receiver out of the backfield and that role won't change moving forward. He led the team in receiving yards (46) against the Cowboys and had a team-high 8 receptions against the Falcons. With the Redskins ranked fourth in the NFL against the run (allowing just 71 yards per game), Vereen should pick up where he left off on Sunday as an extension to the running game with his knack for turning short passes into sizeable gains. Washington has a very strong front seven, so I think the Giants will look to test the speed of its linebackers against Vereen as a way to open up more holes on the ground
The NFC East is currently the most wide-open division in the NFL.
JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact -If Tony Romo and Dez Bryant weren't hurt, this would be a different answer, but the Cowboys will be without their two best players for the next two months, and that leaves the door wide open for another team to step up and seize the division before the Cowboys have a chance to recover. The Eagles are banged up on defense and still finding themselves offensively. The Redskins, meanwhile, are playing better football but time will tell if their defense can continue at this level against better competition and their running game can continue to carry the offense. Every other division has one or two favorites, the NFC East, right now, does not.
Keep an eye on these five players as the Giants face Washington
DAN SALOMONE: Fiction - ** They're all wide open. In the words of Eli Manning this week, "A lot can happen in these next 14 games, and there's a lot of football to be played."
LANCE MEDOW: Fact -Thanks to the injury bug, unlike any other division, the door to the NFC East title is open for all four teams. Although the Cowboys were considered the favorite entering the season, the defending division champs just lost their starting quarterback, Tony Romo, and their top wide receiver, Dez Bryant, for a significant amount of time. Despite a 2-0 start with those two players missing several quarters, who knows how that will impact the consistency of the team moving forward.
The Eagles are off to a very slow start, but it's fair to say there's plenty of talent on that team for it to overcome its early season struggles, especially with so many new faces on both sides of the ball still looking to gel. The Giants have lost two games by a combined five points and they've led each contest by double digits in the fourth quarter. They've been competitive; it's just a matter of closing out games, plus as the season moves along, they'll be getting back a few key pieces including Victor Cruz.
The Redskins have been the biggest surprise to start the season, thanks to an impressive defense under new coordinator Joe Barry and the best rushing attack in the league showcasing veteran Alfred Morris and rookie Matt Jones, who already each have one 100-yard rushing performance on the season. If this play continues, Washington could very well be the team to beat. With all that being said, here's the main reason why the NFC East is the most wide-open division in the league: since 2004 when the Eagles won a string of four straight titles, no team has won the division in back to back years. If that doesn't give each team hope, then I don't know what does.
Alfred Morris is the toughest opposing running back in the division.
JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact -With the departure of LeSean McCoy to the AFC East and DeMarco Murray's move to Philly from the Dallas offensive line, the torch falls to Alfred Morris. It should be noted, however, that by the end of the season, it might be Matt Jones that is the number one Redskins running back. Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden will also be relied upon heavily with the injury to Tony Romo. For now, Morris is the guy.
DAN SALOMONE: Fact - He's rushed for more than 1,000 yards in all three of his seasons in the NFL while never missing a game and making two Pro Bowls. Not bad for a sixth-round draft pick. Also, look out for Matt Jones, the Redskins' rookie third-rounder who had a breakout game last week. They could make quite a one-two punch.
LANCE MEDOW: Fact -Based on last season's stats, I would have said DeMarco Murray, but now that he's in a new system and running behind a different offensive line in Philadelphia, that has certainly impacted his effectiveness as a runner. Darren Sproles is arguably the most versatile opposing back in the division because of his speed and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, but based on pure strength, running style, the line he runs behind and durability, Alfred Morris is by far the toughest. Since his rookie year in 2012, Morris hasn't missed a game and has run for at least 1,000 yards in each of his first three seasons. With the Redskins bringing in a complementary back in rookie Matt Jones out of Florida, that will only make Morris tougher to slow down because Washington will keep opposing defenses on their toes.
The Giants will rush for at least 100 yards against the Redskins.
JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction - The Redskins' strength is their front seven. Stephen Paea, Terrance Knighton and Jason Hatcher are all Pro Bowl caliber players on the defensive line. Ryan Kerrigan is one of the best 3-4 outside rush linebackers in the league. If the Giants are going to win this game, I believe it will be through the air against a secondary that still has some question marks.
DAN SALOMONE: Fact - ** It hasn't been all that pretty -- Manning has already matched his 2014 total with 31 rushing yards through two games -- but the Giants came up just shy of the mark in the first two weeks. They had 99 in the opener and 97 last week. While the return of tight end Daniel Fells will definitely help, the Giants could soften things up with the passing game and then get the ball rolling on the ground.
LANCE MEDOW: Fiction -The Redskins are fourth in the league against the run. They are only allowing 71 yards per game. Based on those numbers, I think it's going to be a tough task for the Giants to collect at least 100 rushing yards against a strong Washington front seven that was completely revamped this offseason. The Redskins brought in two notable free agents who are known to be run stoppers: defensive end Stephen Paea and nose tackle Terrance Knighton. Those two have already made their presence felt as the Dolphins managed just 74 rushing yards in week one and, last Sunday, the Rams, 67. Last season, the Giants rushing totals against the Redskins fluctuated. They had 154 in game one but just 49 in the second.
Playmakers on Washington's first-team offense, defense, and special teams, presented by Nike