Cousins, Skins have back against wall versus Giants

Pretty huge game for Washington in this spot.

Brad Mills—X02835
Sep 18

On Sunday at 1 p.m. ET, the 0-2 Washington Redskins get an early season “must-win” game against the 2-0 New York Giants. Washington remained calm this offseason, save the Josh Norman signing, while New York splurged on big-name free agents. The results haven’t been normal, with New York starting hot and Washington looking lost in the woods.Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, in particular, has been highly ineffective, throwing three interceptions to just one touchdown. Anonymous offensive teammates have reportedly called him out to the coaching staff. This is a big spot for a quarterback playing on a franchise tag and looking for a big new contract.This is the 166th regular-season meeting between the teams, with the Giants lead series, 97-65-4. The Giants have won the last six out of eight games played between the two clubs dating back to 2012, including a four-game winning streak spanning the 2013 and 2014 seasons. The Giants are 4-0 at home against Washington since 2012.Keys to changeAfter doing a decent job of running the ball in Week 1, the Giants running game took a step back last week. Things could be picking up this week against the NFL’s 28th-ranked run defense which is allowing 124.5 yards per game; however, a big key for the Giants will be the right thumb of bell cow RB Rashad Jennings, who was in a protective cast earlier in the week, but vows to playWashington appears outclassed in the trenches, where New York’s additions on the defensive line have proven stout so far. The Redskins need to run the ball more, but they aren’t ever going to be known as a running team. They are too inexperienced in the backfield, lack power up front and have too many other weapons in the passing game. The Redskins need to be better in the red zone. Last year they were third in the NFL in converted opportunities inside the 20. So far they have been a disaster with a pair of interceptions, six field goals and just three touchdowns in 11 chances.Matchups to watch• Redskins CB Josh Norman vs, Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. Will they reprise their simmering feud from last season? By the end of that Dec. 20 game in New York against the Carolina Panthers, Norman’s former team, Beckham was whistled for three personal foul penalties, including one after he got a 10-yard running start and smashed into Norman’s helmet. For his part, Norman was fined over $26,000 and had two personal foul calls of his own. When Norman signed with Redskins, a lot of fans circled this twice-a-season matchup on the calendar.• Giants RDE Olivier Vernon, who has five tackles in two games and proved a handful for both Dallas and New Orleans’ offensive lines in the first two weeks, vs. Redskins LT Trent Williams, who has a sore right knee and has battled nagging injuries throughout training camp. The two saw each other last September when Vernon and the Miami Dolphins played Washington in the 2015 season opener.Player spotlightGiants WR Sterling Shepard. While all eyes are going to be on Odell Beckham Jr., Sunday is a golden opportunity for the suddenly red-hot Shepard to continue his play-making ways. Shepard caught 11 of 12 pass targets so far this season, and has emerged as a nice third-down threat for the Giants. Last week, six of Shepard’s eight receptions helped move the chains; five of those came on third down. Beckham might have the bigger name and might draw the more premier attention, but that’s good news for the rookie, who has looked just as good out there and who may soon start seeing his share of umbrella coverage if he continues to play as he has so far.Fast factsThe Redskins have thrown 89 passes in two games and run the ball 29 times. That is first and last in NFL in those categories respectively. … Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul has 6.5 sacks in four home games vs. Redskins.The Sports XChange/Reuters contributed to this report.