The Washington Redskins (1-1) and New York Giants (0-2) kick off Week 3 from MetLife Stadium on Thursday night.
The Giants will be looking to build a lead and actually hold on to it through the final whistle. The Giants have amounted 10-point leads in the fourth quarter of both their first two games only to see them fade away in the final minutes.
The Redskins will look to build on the momentum from Week 2 when they owned the line of scrimmage against the St. Louis Rams.
Both teams will be on a short week, and injuries and depth could become major factors in this game
Here are three keys to the game for both the Redskins and Giants.
Bring pressure on Eli Manning's blindside
The Giants may be without starting left tackle Ereck Flowers, and even if he plays, he will hobbled. Before the injury that knocked him out of Week 2, he had allowed eight pressures in just two games this season. If the Giants are forced to use a hobbled Flowers or slide Justin Pugh over to left tackle, the Redskins should counter by sending an extra blitzer to that side and by occasionally moving edge rusher Ryan Kerrigan to the right outside linebacker spot.
Focus defensive attention on Larry Donnell in the red zone
In Week 2 of the 2014 regular season, Giants tight end Larry Donnell racked up 54 yards receiving and three touchdowns on seven receptions against the Redskins on Thursday Night. Pass coverage over the middle was a major issue for the Redskins in 2014, and that hasn't changed after returning inside linebackers Keenan Robinson and Perry Riley Jr. The Giants targeted Donnell in the red zone again last week, and he made a difficult touchdown catch. The Redkins should consider using bracket coverage on Donnell when the Giants get inside their 20-yard line.
Get Jordan Reed involved early and often
The Giants have been exposed in pass coverage over the middle of the field by opposing tight ends so far in 2015. Through just two games, the Giants have allowed 14 receptions for 148 yards and three touchdowns to opposing tight ends. Kirk Cousins has connected with Reed on 13 receptions for 143 yards and a touchdown through two weeks.
Use the short passing game in place of the run
Through two weeks, the Redskins have allowed just 141 yards rushing on 30 carries and 54 of those yards came on five carries from wide receivers. The Redskins are stout up front after retooling their defensive line this offseason with Terrance Knighton and Stephen Paea. If the Giants want to sustain drives and keep the defense off the field, they should look to target Shane Vereen, Rashad Jennings and the receivers with routes over the middle of the field that challenge the linebackers and safeties.
Stay aggressive on offense
The Giants have blown a 10-point fourth quarter lead in consecutive games, and in both games, they stopped attacking the defense. In week 2, the Giants stopped targeting Odell Beckham Jr. in the fourth quarter and took a conservative approach on several key third and fourth downs. This is no way to protect any lead in the NFL.
Stop the run first on defense
The Redskins have a simple blueprint on offense in 2015 -- run the football to allow Cousins to serve as a game manager. In Week 2, the Redskins ran the ball for 182 yards and two touchdowns on just 37 yards -- Cousins only attempted 27 passes. In Week 1, when the running game was shut down, Cousins got himself into trouble with two interceptions thrown.
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