Opportunity Knocks For Eli Manning vs. Dallas Cowboys in Week 12

Eli Manning

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning will have mixed emotions from his performance on the opening weekend of the 2013 regular season.

One one hand he posted his second-highest passing-yardage total of his career as he torched the Dallas Cowboys‘ secondary for 450 yards and three touchdowns. On the other hand, it was all in vain as Manning also coughed up three-interceptions (start as you mean to go on) and the Giants were defeated for the first time in Arlington, TX 36-31.

It’s been pretty much all downhill from there on for Manning in terms of his passing-yards-per-game; he’s gone over 300 yards passing just twice since while offering up more interceptions than any other signal caller in the NFL to this point.  Manning also currently has his lowest quarterback rating since his rookie season in which he started just seven games.

That being said, Manning’s recent downturn in production stems from a more conscious, conservative approach as he aims to limit his horrendous turnover problem. It seems to be working for the most part. Though he has failed to take advantage of such overly-generous defenses as the Minnesota Vikings and Oakland Raiders in recent weeks he has just two interceptions during the last four games, all four of which the Giants have emerged victorious.

Manning’s most recent outing of 279 passing yards and a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers was his best of this winning-streak, and there were signs that he may be motoring into form again. The rapport with his key receivers was there for all to see as he connected with Victor Cruz on eight occasions for 110 yards — the most production the Giants leading-receiver has seen since Week 4. Eli also continued to enhance the growing reputation of sophomore-receiver Rueben Randle as they combined for a sixth touchdown reception in as many games.

The 27 points put up by the G-Men in Week 11 was their highest game total since that defeat to their divisional-rival Cowboys on the opening weekend of the season. If the Giants are believers in carrying momentum forward — as their recent victorious streak suggests — then the Cowboys appear primed for the taking in the Meadowlands this coming Sunday.

In terms of yardage-allowed, it doesn’t get much worse than the Cowboys’ defense this season who continually offer up ample opportunities to their opposition. Through 10 games this season the Cowboys rank dead-last on total defense giving up a jaw-dropping 439.8 offensive-yards-per-game on average. Jason Garrett‘s men are currently 29th against the run, something that will resonate with Andre Brown as he continues his comeback success story. Most poignantly for Manning is the fact that the Cowboys hold up 32nd against the pass, giving up 313 yards through the air on average per game.

The last time these two met, Manning created three 100-plus-yard receivers on five receptions apiece; it’s hard to envision anything other than a repeat of such productivity in Week 12. The Cowboys were exploited to the tune of 49 points in their last outing against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. They then had to watch helplessly during their bye week as the Giants and Philadelphia Eagles helped themselves to victories to tighten the screw in the recently-competitive NFC East.

Giants fans will be hoping that the gradual progression of the past four weeks has been leading up to this moment in Week 12. They would like nothing more than to vanquish the memories of that opening-day defeat by running amok against this generous Cowboys defense whilst dragging them down to the equality of a 5-6 record for the season so far.

The stage is set; it’s over to you Eli.

Chris Machin is a New York Giants correspondent at Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter, add him to your circles on Google or as a friend on Facebook


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