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Gameday: Surging Giants Meet Well Rested Cowboys

Posted Nov 19, 2013


Cowboys:

The Cowboys continue to rank among the league leaders in takeaways with a plus-11 ratio, but their lack of offensive rhythm and defensive implosion in recent weeks leave the turnover numbers as one of the few statistics they can look back on with gratification. Tony Romo’s done well limiting his interceptions this year, but he’s uncharacteristically thrown for fewer than 210 yards in three of his past five games. DeMarco Murray was able to get going early against the Saints, but the Cowboys haven’t looked completely in sync offensively since the Broncos game.

That combination of an inconsistent offense and a torched defense has the Cowboys once again finding themselves at .500 for the fifth different time this season after a blowout loss to the Saints, which led them into their bye week. The Cowboys currently rank last in the NFL in total defense, allowing 439.8 yards per game. Even in the win against the Giants to start the season, the defense still allowed more than 450 yards of offense. They currently sit at 32nd in the league in pass defense and 29th in rushing defense, and it’s become clear that if they don’t take the ball away, it’ll be a long day.

It will help them, however, getting reinforcements back. At one point against the Saints, the Cowboys had just three projected starters from the beginning of the season out on the field on defense. The bye week was perfectly timed from a health perspective. DeMarcus Ware and Morris Claiborne weren’t full go early this week, but both appear close to a return, while Jason Hatcher, J.J. Wilcox, DeVonte Holloman and Miles Austin look ready to make their returns. Those additions could provide a much-needed spark on both sides of the ball, particularly on defense for a lacking pass rush.

Giants:

One only needs to take a peek at Eli Manning’s interception total recently to understand why the Giants have now won their last four games. Manning has just two interceptions in his past four games after throwing 15 interceptions in his first six games of the season. His passing touchdown total the last four games is just three, but by keeping possession the Giants have been able to stay on top. The Giants have, however, still had fumble issues with four in their past four games. The Cowboys took advantage of both kinds of turnovers in the first matchup, with three interceptions and three fumble recoveries.

The Giants are still minus-11 in turnovers this year, but their recent lack of turnovers has helped out a Giants defense that’s picked up significantly in the past few weeks. Jason Pierre-Paul is a much healthier defender now than he was at the beginning of the year when the Giants played the Cowboys, and he returned a crucial interception for a touchdown last week against the Packers. After allowing 27 points in each of their first six games (all losses), they’ve allowed 20 points or fewer in each of the last four (all wins). Despite holding a losing record, they hold the No. 11 total defense in the league.

Andre Brown has become the Giants’ workhorse running back in recent weeks after returning from injury. They’ve had a bit of a carousel in the backfield since the start of the year, with David Wilson, Brandon Jacobs, Peyton Hillis, Michael Cox and Brown all among the players in the mix at different points of the year. But Brown’s been a stable player for them since his return for the last two games, while Victor Cruz has at least 10 targets in each of the last three games and Rueben Randle’s found the end zone in five of his last six games.
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