The Washington running game has been the best in the NFC East so far, but can it stand up to the New York Giants, desperate for a win? Don Banks makes his Thursday night pick.

By Don Banks
September 24, 2015

Who has the edge on Thursday night when the Washington Redskins visit the New York Giants? Don Banks makes his pick below.

Last week: 7–9; Season: 18-14 (.563).

• Best pick in Week 2: Carolina 20, Houston 13 (actual score: Panthers 24–17).

• Worst pick in Week 2: Tennessee 27, Cleveland 13 (actual score: Browns 28–14).

It didn’t take long for the Bill Callahan influence to be put on full display in Washington. Wherever the veteran offensive line coach goes, a top-notch running game is sure to emerge. After working in Dallas the past three seasons, he has relocated to Jay Gruden’s staff, and now the division’s premier ground game wears burgundy and gold. Washington churned out 182 rushing yards in its 14-point win over St. Louis in Week 2, getting 123 yards from rookie Matt Jones, after veteran Alfred Morris had ripped off a 121-yard effort in the season opening loss to Miami. No team has had two different rushers post 100-yard games in the first two games of a season since the 2006 Chargers.

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Kirk Cousins, a perennial backup plan, driven by game manager role

If Washington can line up all night and pound away in the running game against a Giants defense that is finally getting middle linebacker Jon Beason back, New York may not even have the luxury of a 10-point fourth-quarter to blow this week. Washington is using its ground attack to shorten games and not place too much of the offensive burden on QB Kirk Cousins, and so far the plan looks like the correct approach. Gruden’s club has responded defensively as well, having limited Miami to 17 points and the Rams just 10 for an NFC East-low 27 allowed.

New York coach Tom Coughlin keeps harping on how his team isn’t finishing, and if the Giants fall to 0–3 for the second time in three seasons, they might be finished. Only three 0–3 clubs have rallied to make the playoffs since the playoffs went to 12 teams in 1990, and the most recent of those were the '98 Bills, back when Buffalo actually took part in that tournament they call the postseason.

So desperation should be wearing blue tonight, and as far as recent history goes, Washington sees a juggernaut when it faces New York. The Giants are 4–0 against Daniel Snyder’s play toy since the start of 2013, and 9–21 against the rest of the league. Add in Washington going 1–7 on the road in each of the past two seasons, and their 2–10 division record since 2013 and it should spell advantage New York.

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)