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A Redskins-centric look around the NFL, Week 2

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A Redskins-centric look around the NFL, Week 2

Will Carson Wentz continue his march to Canton? Has the Giants' defense improved enough to hold Drew Brees to, say, five touchdown passes this time around? Here is your Redskins-centric look around the NFL as Week 2 approaches.

—The Saints travel to play the Giants at 1:00. Last year in New Orleans the Giants-Saints game ended up being one of the highest scoring affairs in NFL history. Eli Manning threw for six touchdowns but Drew Brees threw for seven. The Saints won 52-49 on a 50-yard Kai Forbath field goal as time expired. That game was in a dome and Brees’ career passer rating is 12 points lower outdoors. We’ll see if that and the supposedly improved Giants defense makes the difference in this one. The Giants are 4.5-point favorites to take sole possession of the NFC East lead, pending the Monday night result.

—That Monday night game has the Eagles visiting the Bears. Hall of Fame quarterback Carson Wentz is certain to lead his—oh, wait, he’s only played one game? Against the Browns, one of the worst teams in football? Yeah, let’s tap the brakes on that hype train just a little bit. But the Bears do have a questionable secondary so perhaps Wentz can look good again. The big question will be if the vaunted Eagles defense can get it done against a team that has considerably more firepower than the Browns’ attack. The home team is favored by three.

—Looking ahead, the Redskins go to New Jersey next Sunday to take on the Giants while the Eagles host the Steelers. If the Redskins can win tomorrow their game against New York could be for at least a share of first place in the division.

—Over in the AFC, the Redskins’ Week 4 and Week 5 opponents face off as the Browns host the Ravens. Josh McCown takes over at quarterback in Cleveland for Robert Griffin III. Griffin’s quest for redemption is on hold for at least a couple of months as he recovers from a shoulder injury. The Ravens won an old-fashioned defensive battle at home against the Bills last week. We probably won’t know if the Ravens have bounced back from last year’s ugly 5-11 season after this game. But in between now and October 9, when they host the Redskins, they face a couple of sterner tests. Next week they got to Jacksonville to play the up and coming Jaguars and then they host the Raiders, who also are a team on the rise.

—Before the season even started there was talk of a disconnect between Falcons QB Matt Ryan and Kyle Shanahan, the Atlanta offensive coordinator. "I think a lot was made about a little," said Ryan before the team opened the season with a 31-24 loss to the Bucs. Shanahan goes into his second season with the Falcons on less than solid ground. Ryan seemed to regress last year as the Falcons started 5-0 but faded to a 3-8 finish. They start a brutal stretch of four road games in five weeks with trips to Oakland, New Orleans, Denver, and Seattle. Their long home game is against the Panthers. With an 0-fer start staring them in the face the Falcons coaches are all on notice, especially Shanahan.

—Tomorrow I like three road underdogs. I’ll go with the Saints +4.5 over the Giants, the Packers +2.5 at the Vikings, and the Colts +6 over the Broncos.

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Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Giants

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Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Giants

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, November 23, seven days before the Washington Redskins play the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Redskins Kickoff 7:30 NBC Sports Washington; Redskins vs. Giants, NBC, 8:30  

Days until:

—Redskins @ Cowboys Thursday night (11/30) 7
—Redskins @ Chargers (12/10) 17
—Cardinals @ Redskins (12/17) 24

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Giants

Look out for Eli—There are many reasons why the Giants are 2-8 but Eli Manning is not one of them. He isn’t nearly the turnover machine he has been for much of his career. His interception percentage this year is 1.6; he hasn’t been under 2.3 percent interceptions this decade. Manning only has 14 touchdown passes but considering that Odell Beckham, who went out in the fourth game of the season, still leads Giants wide receivers in touchdown receptions, that’s not bad.

Running game stuck—What makes Manning’s performance even more impressive is the fact that he doesn’t get much support from a running game. The Giants are 26th in the league with 920 yards. They have gained some traction lately after installing Orleans Darkwa as the starting running back; he is averaging 4.8 yards per carry for the season and 71 yards per game over the last three games. The Redskins certainly don’t want to let him get going tonight.

Reverting to reality—The Giants ranked 32nd in total defense in 2015. They dropped millions on free agents such as Janoris Jenkins, David Harrison, and Olivier Vernon and jumped to 10th. Now, this year they are 31st and equally bad against the pass (29th) and the run (30th). Health hasn’t been a huge issue, although Vernon has missed a few games and Jenkins was suspended. Redskins fans know full well that spending sprees don’t necessarily make for permanent improvements and Giants fans are learning it this year.

Keys to winning

  • Run the ballThe Redskins are 4-2 this year when rushing for 90 yards or more.
  • Continue to protect the ball—The Redskins have turned the ball over just twice in their last three games.
  • Don’t give them hope—The Chiefs let the Giants hang around last week and New York stole a win. The Redskins need to get on top early and mash down on the gas pedal.

Prediction—It’s hard to see a scenario where the Redskins lose this one. Even in their injury-depleted state they are battling every game and the same can’t be said for their opponents today. The weather forecast is for cold temperatures but not much wind, ideal conditions for Cousins to throw for 300 yards. For once, the Redskins get up early and keep going.

Redskins 31, Giants 13

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Everybody thinks the intentional grounding call against Kirk Cousins was wrong, except Troy Aikman

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Everybody thinks the intentional grounding call against Kirk Cousins was wrong, except Troy Aikman

The referees made a fairly obvious mistake last week in the Redskins loss to the Saints when they flagged Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins for intentional grounding late in the game. 

Let's be honest: the call was terrible.

Cousins never felt a pass rush on the play, and was very obviously throwing the ball away. Jay Gruden talked about the play on Monday, and could not figure out how a flag came out in that situation. 

We had two receivers in the area. Quarterbacks throws it away all the time that are uncatchable balls whether they are in the pocket or not. As long as there is a receiver in the area, you can throw it whether they are looking or not. Guys run bad routes – one guy runs a hitch and he’s supposed to run a go and the quarterback throws the go ball, it’s not grounding. So I don’t know why the confusion.

The NFL even reached out and apologized to Redskins team president Bruce Allen for the blown call, a hollow gesture that did not generate much excitement from Cousins (via 106.7 the Fan). 

Whatever they do to say, ‘we’re sorry, wrong call,’ it’s tough because there’s nobody bringing that up in February or March when we're making decisions about which direction to go with the organization. We appreciate the clarification but you know it really doesn’t do much.

If you're keeping score, the NFL, the Redskins head coach and the Redskins quarterback all know the call was wrong. 

You know who doesn't think the call was wrong? Fox analyst, and former Cowboys Hall of Fame QB, Troy Aikman.

Grounding? Free rusher? Decide for yourself below.