The Cowboys have never beaten the Giants at Cowboys Stadium but look to buck that trend Sunday. Here, the DallasCowboys.com writing staff shares its expectations for the game against the defending champs. Read more >>
Giants Win If:
The Giants are a big play offense that puts a great deal of pressure on the defense. Their offensive line does a great job of pass protection but they are also a physical group when it comes to running the ball. Rob Ryan and his defense did a really nice job of slowing down this Giants offense when it came to making big plays the last time these two teams met. When you try to defend the Giants it’s not about trying to stop one guy but three. It reminds me of when I was in Green Bay and we would play the Cowboys and would have a great game slowing down Emmitt Smith but then Michael Irvin or Troy Aikman would have a game that would kill us. The Giants are very similar to those types of teams with their ability to make those explosive plays. Where the Cowboys have had some problems is their ability to cover crossing routes in the secondary which is a large part of what their offense does and with Cruz and Nicks running them makes it even more problematic. This game for the Giants will come down to those types of plays and if they are able to make them, they will be a hard team to beat on Sunday.
Cowboys Win If:
As much as I want to put this game on Rob Ryan and this Cowboys defense, I really believe it’s more about what Jason Garrett and this offense is able to do. I feel like that Ryan will have a good scheme and will match up in the secondary with these Giants receivers and Martellus Bennett to eliminate the big plays. Where this game is going to be won for Dallas is if the offense is able to execute and by that I mean not leaving plays on the field or wasting opportunities. What the Cowboys can’t afford is when things are blocked clean or the receivers run routes that buy separation, to miss on those plays. When this offense has struggled it’s been because they have wasted those opportunities. I am not foolish enough to believe that there are not going to be some negative or difficult plays in this game because the Giants can do that to your offense but when there are chances to make plays, they have to execute the play. When these two teams met that opening night, one team clearly executed better and in my view that was the difference in the victory.
- Bryan Broaddus
Cowboys Receiver Miles Austin against Giants Cornerback Prince Amukamara:
The last time these two teams met, Amukamara did not play and the Cowboys were able to take advantage of the situation by torching the Giants secondary for 16 catches and 3 touchdowns. With Amukamara back in the lineup, the Giants are in better shape but there still are some things that I feel that Austin will be able to do route wise that will cause him problems. I have never felt like that Amukamara was that physical of a corner and when he plays against receivers that are, he tends to struggle.
Austin played with a chip on his shoulder in the second half of the Carolina game after his fumble and I fully believe that he will carry it over into this Giants game. The bottom line is that Austin is much too physical for Amukamara who tends to lose confidence when he is getting beat up on. Dez Bryant and Kevin Ogletree will also get a crack at Amukamara but Austin will be the one that does the most damage because he will relentless in the way he attacks him. Look for Romo to focus on Austin early to get the offense going whether he is outside or playing out of the slot.
Cowboys Offensive Tackle Doug Free against Giants Defensive End Justin Tuck:
In studying the game against the Panthers last week, I thought that Doug Free played to a level that we had seen from two seasons ago. With so much attention being placed on Jason Pierre-Paul how Free manages to block Tuck one-on-one will tell you how the Cowboys will be able to move the ball on offense. Free understands the type of moves and the power that Tuck likes to play with so there will be no surprised there.
Where Free has done a nice job the last couple of weeks has been his ability to sit down on his man in pass protection and not give up much ground. When he does get in trouble is when he gets compressed in the backfield and the width of the pocket collapses. As long as Free and Tyron Smith can keep their men wide, it gives Romo a chance to sit in the middle and make throws. Free has also done a much better job is as a run blocker. When the ball gets to the edge or outside, Free has been able to secure the edge then work to the second level. Tuck is a much better run defender than he is pass rusher so if the Cowboys are successfully running the ball on the right side, it will mean that Free is handling Tuck.
- Bryan Broaddus
He also is an exceptional route runner that puts a great deal of pressure on defensive backs that have to carrying him around the field. Brandon Carr and Orlando Scandrick will be the ones that have that responsibility and it is a large one at that. There will be times where Cruz will make his catches but where the Cowboys have to limit him is the huge, back breaking plays like he made at the end of the Washington game last week.
Against Carolina it was Steve Smith and now Cruz, similar players but a more accurate quarterback in Manning getting him the ball. The Cowboys were able to keep him in check in Week 1 and will need more of the same in this matchup.
Where Manning makes his biggest mistakes is when he has to move and adjust. Pressure makes him do strange things with the ball in a negative way. Throughout his career we have seen times where he has had total disregard for ball protection but then on the other end, we have seen him get on streaks where he can’t be stopped. It is difficult to sack Manning but getting around him and making him move is key.
Where Rob Ryan and his defense can’t fail is allowing Manning to be the “Good Eli” with the opportunity to sit in the pocket and make throws because if that is the case, he will run his Cowboys Stadium record to 4 – 0.
There still are times where Bennett has been hit and miss as a blocker but where he really has helped the Giants as a down the field player. The Cowboys always knew that he had talented, we have all known that but where with the Giants you see Bennett using his talent more.
Eli Manning will flex Bennett away from the line, send him up the field and he will either curl inside working the middle of the field in front of the linebackers or up the seam letting him make an adjusting catch. This Cowboys defense has struggled some this year with the tight end that are an up the field player. An old teammate could be a huge problem.
The problem that Ware presents for this offense is simple, his explosive quickness around the corner is often too much for these tackles to deal with. It really hasn’t mattered who he has played or how they have tried to block him with extra players, Ware has still been productive.
This week Ware will face Will Beatty on the left side and Sean Locklear on the right. By moving Ware around Rob Ryan has created some favorable opportunities to get to Manning who in his own right, really does a nice job of quickly getting rid of the ball. The Giants will try and keep Bennett or Pascoe in to try and help but when one-on-one look for Ware to use not only his quickness but power on these two tackles who at times have struggled with both.
When you run at them, they are fine but making these guys have to play on the move puts them in bad situations. Look for Jason Garrett to try and use his running backs underneath in some pass routes that do just that. Garrett will also try and work the edges attacking the lighter defensive ends for the Giants but also making the linebackers have to play sideline to sideline.
Felix Jones with a hint of Lance Dunbar could put a great deal of pressure on this group. The more these Giants linebackers have to play in space, the more they struggle and the potential for big , loose plays are there and the Cowboys offensively will need a few of these.
In the games I was able to study, he was dependable handling crossing routes, carrying tight ends and picking up backs out of the backfield. Rob Ryan and the staff have had to juggle the majority of their defensive roster to make things work and so far so good.
You will see me write or say this a bunch, if you dress for Ryan you play. Ryan will find ways to get Sims on the field in some nickel looks where he can help in coverage where maybe Dan Connor has had some troubles.
An opening loss to the Cowboys didn’t seem to sidetrack the Giants to start the season, reeling off wins in five of their next six games. However, the game this week at Cowboys Stadium will have more meaning to the Giants, whose only two losses this season are against division opponents. The Giants have gotten comfortable in Dallas in recent seasons, and they’ll have added motivation after all ready losing at home to their rivals. Even with a loss this weekend, the Giants will lead the NFC East.
In addition to keeping the Giants’ receivers in check, the Cowboys were able to hold a Giants team averaging 116.3 yards per game on the ground to just 82 yards rushing in the first matchup. Coach Tom Coughlin will have to decide whether he’d rather establish the run or stick to a superior aerial attack. Even when resorting to the pass, the Giants have done well holding onto the football, holding a plus-nine turnover ratio this year. The Cowboys, meanwhile, are still in the negatives at minus-seven.
Cruz, who caught six passes for 178 yards and a touchdown in his final game against Dallas last year, isn’t accustomed to the drops and yardage totals that marked his game in a loss to the Cowboys earlier this season. He couldn’t reel in three catches he’d normally make. Cruz’s touchdown salsa dance has appeared in all but two games this season, one of which was against Dallas. He’s repeated the rapport with Eli Manning he flashed last year and has taken his game to an elite level. If Hakeem Nicks can get fully healthy, the duo in New York is as formidable as it gets.
History isn’t on Dallas’ side this weekend, as it prepares to host the NFC East rival Giants. The Cowboys took care of their only other divisional matchup this season by beating the Giants at MetLife Stadium in the opener, but the Cowboys haven’t ever beaten the Giants at Cowboys Stadium. The G-Men actually handed the Cowboys their first ever loss at the new stadium in Sept. 2009. Dallas will hope this year’s history, and not the history of the past few years, will prevail this weekend.
A win this weekend, and thus a sweep of the Giants for the year, would be monumentally beneficial to the Cowboys moving forward. For the Cowboys to get to that point, they’d need some help from atypical contributors. It doesn’t seem like DeMarco Murray, who ran for 131 yards in the first meeting in New York, will be available this weekend. If Felix Jones is also too injured to go, the running game would be placed in the hands of Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar, who’s only had one carry this year.
The secondary believed when one of the cornerbacks or safeties picked off a pass, more interceptions would follow in droves. Well, Morris Claiborne was the only player to pick off a pass in Carolina. For their theory to hold true, the Cowboys will have to find a way to get pressure on Eli Manning. The secondary held Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks scoreless with a combined 10 catches for 96 yards. Holding Cruz in check again will go a long way in halting the Giants’ three-game winning streak, because the Cowboys should be able to move the ball on a Giants defense that ranks 24th in the league.
- Rowan Kavner