*The Giants are trying to rescue their season from the brink of obscurity while the Washington Redskins are trying to prove to us that they can hang tough after two decent weeks and a 1-1 record. On paper, and with a significant Thursday night home-field advantage at MetLife Stadium, this seems like the perfect opportunity for Tom Coughlin to get his team back on track. But can they finally close out a game? *
Here are a few things we're looking out for...
1. Can the return of Jon Beason help negate an excellent Redskins rushing game? The injury-plagued All Pro is back for the Giants after missing the first two weeks of the season, and just in time. The Redskins have carried the ball 74 times for 343 yards and two scores, thanks in large part to a stellar breakout game by rookie Matt Jones last week. Jones, a powerful 6-foot-2, 231-pound running back, ran for 123 yards on 19 carries in a win over the Rams.
2. Can the Giants develop an offensive identity outside of Odell Beckham Jr.? The Giants bolstered their stable of running backs to essentially include two No. 1 runners (Andre Williams and Rashad Jennings) and a third-down back in Shane Vereen. The result, though, has been two straight games of less than 100 total yards rushing. Against the Falcons last week, Williams netted 43 yards on six carries, but a scrambled offensive line and haphazard defense forced the Giants to keep the ball in the air.
3. Will Kirk Cousins continue to effectively push Washington's passing attack? Outside of Philip Rivers and Aaron Rodgers, the NFL's most accurate quarterback this season has been Kirk Cousins. Though he's been asked to throw the ball less than 30 times per game, he's averaging almost seven yards per completion, or an average slightly higher than Joe Flacco, Eli Manning and Matthew Stafford. With some quarterbacks that have limited film to display, the hammer ends up dropping around Week 3 or Week 4. The Giants, though, might not be a good enough defense to punish him.
4. Will Eli Manning remain upright? Offensive line uncertainty has been a trademark of the Giants these past few years and now that rookie left tackle Ereck Flowers has an ankle sprain, the crew will rotate once again. This has made anything offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo wants to accomplish extremely difficult over the past two seasons, and now that his team is facing an extremely deep Redskins defensive line, he'll have to pepper his game plan with plenty of max protection plays. Unfortunately, that also likely hinders them from developing that run game we wondered about in point No. 2.
5. Is this the week Rueben Randle emerges again? Remember Rueben Randle, the former second-round pick? Through two games this season he has been targeted just seven times, resulting in four catches. Though he's never been a dominant force on the field, he did log a 71-catch campaign in 2014 in largely the same situation he's in now -- no Victor Cruz and Beckham taking the top off defenses. Randle really was supposed to be the deep threat that pushed this receiving corps over the top. Instead, Manning could only seem to find Preston Parker open over the past two weeks, and we all saw what happened there.