Thursday Night Football:
New York Giants at Washington
Preview and Prediction

 

Thursday Night Football
New York Giants (1-2) at Washington (1-2)
8:25 pm ET, September 25, 2014
FedEx Field, Landover MD
Airs on CBS and NFL Network
Washington favored by 3½

 

New York Defense versus Washington Offense

The New York defensive line matches up well against Washington. Although Trent Williams can neutralize Jason Pierre-Paul, there rest of the line battles favor the Skins. RT Tyler Polumbus will have his hands full trying to block Mathias Kiwanuka, especially on passing downs. DT Jonathan Hankins should win the matchup against injured interior linemen Shawn Lauvoa and Kory Lichtensteiger (or their replacements), causing timing problems for Kirk Cousins. Those injuries on the line are also going to make it difficult for RB Alfred Morris to get anything going, which could exacerbate the challenge of handling the pass rush.

Wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon versus Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie and Prince Amukamara is a tossup when you factor in the pass rush situation, but Washington does have one decided advantage. Tight End Niles Paul (18 receptions on 24 targets for 253 yards, 14.1 yards per catch, one touchdown, nine first downs) is a matchup nightmare for the Giants. New York will be without linebackers Jon Beason and Devon Kennard, leaving Mark Herzlich with the unenviable task of attempting to cover

Washington Defense versus New York Offense

Although the New York offensive line performed admirably against a very solid Houston defense last week, I would still give the edge to the Washington front seven. Bryan Orakpo will be able to play with a protective cast on his left hand; together with Ryan Kerrigan and Jason Hatchers those three have compiled seven sacks this year. Justin Pugh did a great job neutralizing J.J. Watt last week, but he may be facing an even tougher test against Washington’s pass rushers.

New York does hold a decided advantage in the passing game against the Washington secondary. Eli Manning and the receivers have looked a little bit better each week, and Washington is now without their only backfield playmaker, DeAngelo Hall. Tracy Porter is slowed down with a bad hammy, and Brandon Meriweather is very inconsistent when it comes to coverage.

The key may very well come down to the running game. Rashad Jennings ran for 176 yards last week and now has 381 yards from scrimmage in three games. If the Washington linebackers can limit his effectiveness and place Manning in some predictable third and long situations, the Giants will be in trouble.

Special Teams

Washington has struggled with special teams coverage, and ranks dead last in their special teams play according to Football Outsiders. Though New York punter Steve Weatherford has an ankle injury, the Giants also now have Quintin Demps returning kicks. Demps has a 27.4 yard average on 96 kickoff returns, including two touchdowns. New York holds the advantage over Washington in this department.

Injuries
Starters or players that receive significant snaps are in bold.

New York
WR Odell Beckham (Hamstring) – Out
LB Devon Kennard (Hamstring) – Out
LB Jon Beason (Foot/Toe) – Doubtful
CB Zack Bowman (Quad) – Questionable
OT James Brewer (Back) – Questionable
OT Charles Brown (Shoulder) – Questionable
P Steve Weatherford (Left Ankle) – Probable

Washington
QB Robert Griffin (Ankle) – Out
TE Jordan Reed (Hamstring) – Out
LB Akeem Jordan (Knee) – Out
NT Chris Baker (Ankle/Hip) – Questionable
DE Kedric Golston (Groin) – Questionable
DE Jason Hatcher (Hamstring) – Questionable
WR DeSean Jackson (Shoulder) – Questionable
DE Frank Kearse (Ankle) – Questionable
LG Shawn Lauvao (Knee) – Questionable
C Kory Lichtensteiger (Groin/Rib/Hip) – Questionable
CB Tracy Porter (Hamstring) – Questionable
S Trenton Robinson (Abdomen) – Questionable
LB Brian Orakpo (Finger) – Probable

In addition, CB DeAngelo Hall (Achilles) was placed on Injured Reserve and will miss the rest of the season.

Prediction

Usually I heavily favor the home team on these short-week Thursday games (home clubs are 3-0 both straight up and against the spread this season), but the close proximity between the two teams makes travel time for the Giants a non-factor. New York has won eight of the last ten games played at Washington, and under Tom Coughlin the Giants are 14-6 straight up against the Skins; of those twenty games just six have gone over the point total. To me Washington is the better team, but having one third of the roster injured is an obstacle that will just be too difficult to overcome this week.

Pick • New York 20, Washington 17
New York +3½ (two units)
Under 46 (one unit)

 

College Football

Texas Tech at Oklahoma State
The Cowboys are the better team, but I think Kliff Kingsbury’s Red Raiders keep it within two scores. They’ll be motivated after being blown out by Arkansas, and Oklahoma State is without QB J.W. Walsh.

Pick • Texas Tech (+14½) (one unit)

 

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