NFL Thursday Preview…Washington at NY Giants

Considering team perceptions entering the 2015 season, it’s almost impossible to think that the Washington Redskins are suddenly the team to beat in the NFC East. But, they enter Thursday Night’s nationally televised showdown with the NY Giants looking surprisingly good just two weeks into the season.

Consider

*Washington’s defense has significantly upgraded, and may be a real force

*Dallas just lost Tony Romo for up to two months with a fractured collarbone

*Philadelphia is off to an 0-2 start, and looks lost on offense most of the time

*The NY Giants are off to an 0-2 start, and don’t seem to have improved from last season

We’re not going to suggest that Washington is now some kind of NFC power. The offense has issues…which is why they’re only 1-1 out of the gate despite playing great defense. But…that 1-1 start is looking pretty good if Dallas has to go without Romo and Dez Bryant for half the season! Maybe the NFC East is the new NFC South and somebody will make the playoffs with a losing record. Maybe the Giants will win Thursday…and we’ll be looking at four NFC East teams all tied at 1-2 three weeks into the season.

Let’s review JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats to see just “for real” the Redskins might be…and how this divisional race may play out in the coming weeks...

Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)

Washington: 1-1 (split at home vs. Miami and St. Louis)

NY Giants: 0-2 (lost nailbiters at Dallas at home vs. Atlanta)

Washington dominated St. Louis, catching the Rams in a letdown spot off the Seattle upset. The home opener was a competitive loss to Miami. Washington won stats but gave up a punt return touchdown. Of course, Miami would then lose to Jacksonville…and Seattle would fall at Green Bay. So, it’s possible Washington is just looking decent against a very easy schedule. The Giants absolutely blew the Cowboys game…and were positioned to take out Atlanta in the fourth quarter. Tough call. Washington has the better record, but the Giants may still be the superior team.

Yards-Per-Play

Washington: 5.3 on offense, 4.6 on defense

NY Giants: 5.4 on offense, 6.1 on defense

You can see what we were talking about regarding Washington’s defense. It’s been elite so far. Maybe that’s a reflection of an easy schedule. But, sharps and other close followers of the league liked the offseason upgrades they saw on that side of the ball. The Giants didn’t catch any breaks drawing Tony Romo and Matt Ryan out of the gate. For now…the YPP data is pointing to Washington being the better team even after you adjust for the schedule.

Turnover Differential

Washington: -2

NY Giants: +2

The only strike against Washington’s defense is that it’s not forcing turnovers. Forcing punts is great. But, taking the ball away is even better. Tough to ask Kirk Cousins to win a game for you until he shows he’s capable. The Giants only lost the ball once vs. Atlanta…but it was an important one that probably cost them the victory. The Giants should probably get the nod in this category Thursday all things considered. Cousins has to prove he can play clean football on the road. That may be the difference maker in a tough-to-call affair.

Market Performance

Washington: 1-1 ATS

NY Giants: 1-1 ATS

Both teams have split vs. market expectats. But, Washington was clearly underpriced to start the season. They were +4 at home against Miami in a game that was a dead heat if not for the punt return. They were +3 against St. Louis and won comfortably. The Giants needed turnovers to hang with Dallas, and were near the number until blowing the end of the Atlanta game. The market probably has a pretty good read on NYG.

Current Line: NY Giants by 4, total of 44

Home field advantage is usually worth about 2.5 points in divisional games. Visitors all know the environment so the full three may not be in play. Clearly the market sees the Giants as the slightly superior team right now. Washington has risen in the Power Ratings from being down near Jacksonville…but still isn’t seen as even a .500 caliber team. If you believe Washington’s defense is legit…then this could be a steal! If you believe their good stats are the result of facing mediocre (or worse) teams at home, then this is the night they turn into a pumpkin.

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Our TV previews will continue later in the week. Coming up soon in the NOTEBOOK…

*College Football TV Preview…#9 UCLA at #16 Arizona

*NFL Sunday Night TV Preview…Denver Broncos at Detroit Lions

*NFL Monday Night TV Preview…Kansas City Chiefs at Green Bay Packers

*NFL Thursday Night TV Preview…Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers

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24
Sep

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