By Stephen Dolan
The NFC East has been struggling so far this season. The Cowboys are 2-0, but lost quarterback Tony Romo and wide receiver Dez Bryant to injury; the Eagles fell to 0-2 and looked dreadful in the process; the Redskins attempted to overcome the Robert Griffin III drama to start 1-1; and the Giants blew two late fourth-quarter leads to start 0-2. Thursday Night Football features an always exciting match-up between the Redskins and Giants to see who can inch closer to the top of a wide open division.
Play: Kirk Cousins (vs. NYG)
Cousins has been impressive in his first two starts of the season, completing 75.9 percent of his passes for 399 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He is coming off one of the best games of his NFL career, completing 23 of his 27 passes for 203 yards and a touchdown against a very strong St. Louis Rams defense. Cousins faces a Giants defense that has been shredded through the first two weeks of the season, ranked 31st out of 32 in overall defense, and dead-last in pass defense. If Cousins is going to continue playing at a high level, the Giants are the perfect defense to continue it against.
Pass: Eli Manning (vs. WAS)
Manning hasn’t looked fantastic this season, but we have seen him look a lot worse. A better play call combined with a few defensive stops here and there and the Giants very well could have started the season 2-0. Manning has thrown for 485 yards and two touchdowns over the first two games of the season. Most impressive is that Manning has yet to throw an interception. He faces the league’s top-ranked defense and second-ranked passing defense on Thursday, which could mean Manning’s penchant for interceptions may rear its ugly head.
With that said, you can’t really go wrong with either quarterback selection this week.
Play: Alfred Morris (vs. NYG)
Morris is the primary back for the Redskins, leading the team in rushing yards with 180 on 43 carries this season. Last week, he gave way to backup Matt Jones, who rushed for 123 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. Morris is still the featured back in a system that will likely continue to rush the ball consistently to keep Cousins from trying to do too much.
Pass: Rashad Jennings (vs. WAS)
Jennings has not done much this season with the Giants averaging 2.9 yards per carry on just 22 carries through their first two games. He has seen the other half of the carries go to Andre Williams and Shane Vereen. Jennings has not done much in the passing game either, catching just two passes for 12 yards. Pass on Jennings until he makes an impact in the New York offense.
Play: Odell Beckham Jr. (vs. WAS)
Beckham is one of the most prolific wide receivers in the entire NFL, and this is just his second NFL season. He has 12 catches for 190 yards and a touchdown on the year. He’s also coming off of a huge game against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday where he hauled in seven passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. Beckham is the only Giants receiver with more than 43 receiving yards on the season, so it is clear Manning will be looking his way a lot on Thursday night.
Pass: Rueben Randle (vs. WAS)
Randle has not been a part of the New York offense at all through the first two weeks of the season, as he has just four catches for 28 yards and no touchdowns. Perhaps what is most surprising about Randle’s lack of productivity is Manning’s refusal to throw in his direction, as Randle has just seven targets on the season. The Giants typically look Randle’s way in the red zone, making him a big fantasy player, but that hasn’t been the case so far this season.
Play: Jordan Reed (vs. NYG)
Reed is one of the underrated tight ends in the NFL, as his athleticism makes him a mismatch in most cases. He leads the Redskins in receiving with 13 receptions for 145 yards and a touchdown on the season. Despite dealing with a quad injury on Sunday, Reed still caught six passes for 82 yards in Washington’s win over St. Louis. Play Reed.
Pass: Larry Donnell (vs. WAS)
Donnell is third on the Giants in receiving with just seven catches for 49 yards and a touchdown. He is consistent—he has averaged exactly seven yards per reception in each of his first two games of the season. Donnell is facing a Redskins defense that has played above expectations through the first two weeks and he hasn’t shown the ability to standout in the Giants offense this season. Pass.
Play: Josh Brown (vs. WAS)
Pass: Dustin Hopkins (vs. NYG)
Steve Dolan is an MBA student at Villanova University and a graduate of the Haub School of Business at Saint Joseph’s University. Steve co-founded Whiz Wit Sports, a Philadelphia-centric sports blog, in March 2011 growing the site to win PHL 17’s Best Local Blogger on the Philly Hot List in 2013.