IRVING, Texas –The Cowboys already handled the Giants once this year, beating the defending champs 24-17 in the season opener back on Sept. 5. But things have changed for both teams since then, especially in terms of personnel amd health.
The DallasCowboys.com writing staff shares its expectations for Sunday's game in Carolina. Here is the gut feeling of Nick Eatman, Rowan Kavner, Jonathan Auping and Bryan Broaddus.
Rowan:The Cowboys will need the types of long bursts and downfield plays they haven't made since the opener. No settling for field goals. No untimely drops or penalties. This New York squad with an undefeated record at Cowboys Stadium is different than the team Dallas saw in New Jersey earlier this year. The Giants defense is beatable, but the offense is in a groove and the Eli Manning to Victor Cruz connection is as smooth as ever. The loss of Sean Lee will force the hiatus upon the Cowboys offense weapons, and I don't see them doing enough to win a back and forth battle.
Bryan:When we watch these games, the announcers always talk about third down conversions, time of possession and turnovers. I know the bottom line is to score points and that determines the winners and losers. But for this week my gut tells me to watch the two stats of time of possession and turnovers but also look at the yards per play. The last time these two teams met, Dallas pushed on the turnovers but won the time of possession by almost nine minutes but more impressively averaged almost three yards a play better than the Giants. Where the Giants get you is on big plays, this game will once again come down to the team that makes the most big plays but also the defense that can limit them as well.
Jonathan:This game is going to come down to containing the Giants' two strengths: their defensive line and their passing game. The Cowboys' offensive line has played better in recent weeks. It is a credit to those players on the line and it is a credit to the coaching staff for looking to address their issues with rush and pass protection. But we will find out a lot about the Cowboys O-line against the Giants. It's no secret that New York's pass rush is full of playmakers. Jason Pierre-Paul forced a fumble on Robert Griffin III just last week. Former Cowboy Chris Canty is also back on the field after suffering a knee injury. It will take a lot for Romo to just have enough time to release the ball. If he isn't protected this game could turn out disastrous. The Cowboys passing defense has also been rightfully heralded this season, and did a good job containing Eli Manning in the opener. But Manning is too good and his receivers are too dangerous to just expect any defense to keep him in check twice in one season.
Nick: The Cowboys will win the game. I know we're supposed to go with the gut here and somewhat hint at how we're leaning. No reason to beat around the bush this time … I've got the Cowboys winning this game. Are they the better team? Who knows, but they were once this year. Are they banged up? Yeah, but who isn't. I just think it's a matter of what goes around comes around and while that might suggest the Giants winning this game and splitting the season series, I see it the other way. I don't see the Giants being good enough to run away with this division and that's what would happen if they win. I see the Cowboys being able to make big plays in the passing game and I think we're going to be impressed with Phillip Tanner's running ability in this game. I can see a 100-yard game from him. Dan Connor will be also be better than you think and my gut tells me we'll have a Mike Jenkins sighting. The Cowboys find a way to win this game Sunday against the Giants, giving Eli Manning his first loss at Cowboys Stadium.