The New York Giants will be looking to avenge their Week 1 loss to the Dallas Cowboys this Sunday. The Week 8 matchup will be a big deal for the Giants who came out flat in the opening night loss to their division rivals.
However, this is also a different Giants team than the one DeMarco Murray, Tony Romo, and Kevin Ogletree picked apart in the first meeting. The Giants are a much healthier team now than they were in Week 1. Prince Amukamara, Jayron Hosley, and Chris Canty all missed the first meeting but have all since returned.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys are banged up as they are dealing with injuries to Murray, who ran for 131 yards in the first game, and Felix Jones who was sporting a brace in practice on Thursday. While there is a chance both could play their effectiveness could be limited much in the way Jason Witten’s was in the first game after he returned from a ruptured spleen. However, Murray seems likely to be a no-go after missing yet another practice on Thursday.
The Cowboys defense will also be without Sean Lee who was just placed on injured reserve, ending his season. Lee was a huge part of the Cowboys defense and was quickly becoming one of the best linebackers in the NFL before the injury.
Despite the injuries, the Giants know that this will be no cakewalk. Giants defensive end Justin Tuck compared the Cowboys to an injured leopard and said injured leopards are one of the most dangerous animals in the wild. The Giants cannot afford to overlook the Cowboys who will have a healthy Witten and a healthier Miles Austin and a still dangerous Dez Bryant.
The key for the Giants is to establish the running game while stopping Dallas’. They must make Tony Romo try to beat them, something he was able to do in their first matchup because he was able to exploit a depleted secondary. This time around, the Giants cornerbacks should be up to the challenge.
For the Giants to establish the run, they will need Ahmad Bradshaw, who has missed the last two practices heading into Friday, to be at his best. If Bradshaw can’t go, or isn’t effective, then it will be up to Andre Brown and David Wilson to shoulder the load. Wilson, who fumbled in his second career carry against Dallas, has improved by leaps and bounds and should factor into this game somehow, either on special teams or on offense. He will be looking for a little revenge and I wouldn’t be surprised if Tom Coughlin gave him a chance to redeem himself.
I expect the Giants to be ready this week and give Dallas fits. I also expect Victor Cruz, who had three drops against Dallas in Week 1, to have a much bigger impact now that Hakeem Nicks is almost fully healthy. That alone should open up the Giants offense and allow them to try to exploit the Cowboys on mid-range passes over the middle and take advantage of the absence of Sean Lee.