Once again, it’s time for yet another installment of the NFC East‘s most fierce rivalry between the New York Giants (5-2) and Dallas Cowboys (3-3) in week eight. The Giants come into this one looking to avenge their season opening loss to the Cowboys 24-17, while Dallas is just looking to get over the .500 mark for the first time since that contest.
Last week the Giants defeated another division rival, the Washington Redskins, 27-23 in the final minute while the Cowboys pulled out a close 19-14 victory over the Carolina Panthers following a motivational speech from former Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs of all people.
The Giants enter this contest with one of the top offensive units in the NFL ranked second in offensive yards gained per game (411.6 yards), third in passing yards gained per game (295.3 yards), 12th in rushing yards gained per game (116.3 yards) and tied for third in points scored per game (29.3 points). Their defense, which is usually a staple of the team, has struggled this year. It is ranked 24th in yards allowed per game (379.7 yards), 21st in passing yards allowed per game (253.3 yards) and 23rd in rushing yards allowed per game (126.4 yards) but ninth in points allowed per game (19.6 points).
Mr. Fourth Quarter, Eli Manning, is putting together yet another stellar season so far, passing for 2,109 yards (1st in NFL), 12 touchdowns (tied for 7th), seven interceptions and completing 63.8% of his attempts. This week Manning will have a difficult time having his way with a much improved Dallas secondary who ranks amongst the best in the NFL in defending against the pass. When the opportunities do present themselves, Manning will without question look for his number target in Victor Cruz, who has hauled in 50 passes (3rd in NFL) already this season for 627 yards (4th in NFL) and seven touchdowns (tied for 1st).
The Giants will also need to get a big game out of Ahmad Bradshaw (104 carries for 492 yards and 4 TD) due to the fact that the Dallas pass defense is so good, so Bradshaw needs to run successfully in order to make them susceptible against the play action pass. Jason Pierre-Paul will be another huge playmaker for the G-Men as well in this one. If he can put pressure on the quarterback known as the human turnover than it will be a short day for New York and a long one for Dallas.
The Cowboys defense has looked much improved this season, ranking fourth in offensive yards allowed per game (292.3 yards), third in passing yards allowed per game, 15th in rushing yards allowed per game and 14th in points allowed per game. The problem this year has been the talent-laden offense, which ranks 10th in total offensive yard gained per game (374.8 yards), seventh in passing yards gained per game (277.7 yards), 20th in rushing yards gained per game (97.2 yards) and tied for 24th in points scored per game (18.8 points).
A major problem for the Boys in this one could be the fact that their running back committee is banged up as starter Demarco Murray will miss another game this week with a sprained foot and back up Felix Jones is a game time decision with a bruised knee. The Cowboys will be without their leading tackler, linebacker Sean Lee, for the remainder of the season which will also be a huge blow in this one.
With that being said, the state of the Dallas running game could rely on Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar who have combined to carry the ball 23 times this season for just 72 yards. If that is the case, then more of the offense will rely on the Human Turnover, Tony Romo, who is statistically having a fine year (1,636 yards, 8 TD and 67.9% completion rate) with the exception of his turnover issues (9 interceptions and 4 fumbles).
If Romo can manage not to turn the rock over and hook up with his favorite three targets–Miles Austin (25 receptions for 428 yards and 4 TD), Dez Bryant (36 receptions for 378 yards and 2 TD) and Jason Witten (33 receptions for 320 yards and a TD)–then the Cowboys have an excellent chance at sweeping their divisional nemesis this season. As always, the Giants offensive line needs to account for DeMarcus Ware‘s (6.5 sacks and 3 forced fumbles) whereabouts because he could change the game by himself.
The Giants are undoubtedly the favorites in this one even though the Cowboys are at home, but I think Dallas will find a way to pull this victory out due to the fact that pass defense is so strong and the fact that they simply need a win here so much more than New York does. Dallas 24 – New York 20.