Football analyst Bucky Brooks, a former NFL player and scout who now works for NFL Network and serves as an analyst for DallasCowboys.com, gives his weekly keys to the game Sunday, providing specific points of emphasis for both the Cowboys and Giants.
The Giants will win if…
Despite a recent loss that exposed the Giants' flaws and narrow path of winning, Brian Daboll's squad poses a huge challenge due to their playing style and conservative approach. The Giants have emerged as a division contender due to their ability to minimize the self-inflicted mistakes that routinely lead to losses. The team excels at protecting the ball, limiting big plays and penalties, which forces the opponent to drive the length of the field to win.
Against the Cowboys, the Giants need to take care of the "DBOs" (Don't Beat Ourselves) while also running the ball effectively with Saquon Barkley. The explosive runner is the key to the Giants' offense and a 100-yard rushing game would ensure that the offense is on schedule and controlling the tempo. If the Giants are able to slow the game down, reduce the number of total possession and force the Cowboys into a street fight in a phone booth, they will have a chance to make the game a fourth-quarter affair that could be decided by a walk-off field goal at the buzzer.
The Giants' defense will need to contain Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott to force Dak Prescott to throw against their exotic pressures and coverage packages. Although the veteran is coming off of a superb game against the Vikings, the Cowboys are at their worst when they are forced to throw in obvious situations. With Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams capable of heating up the quarterback, the Giants want to force the Cowboys into a seven-on-seven contest (passing game) against a ferocious pass rush and suffocating coverage.
The Cowboys will win if…
The Cowboys' winning formula has not changed throughout the years. This team is always at its best when they are able to run the ball and rely on an opportunistic defense that turns the ball over. Against the Giants, the recipe should remain the same with Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott featured as the focal point of a game plan that aspires to hit 30-plus runs on the day. Although the Cowboys need to pick up positive yardage on the ground, the heavy workload for Pollard and Elliott will enable the team to control the pace and force the Giants to play the game on their terms.
CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup will need to deliver a few big plays on play-action passes, but the Cowboys must resist the temptation to make the game an aerial showcase. By committing to the ground game and making No.20 and No.21 the focal points of the plan, the Cowboys will eventually wear the Giants down and run away from them in the fourth quarter.
On defense, the Cowboys need to sell out to keep Saquon Barkley under wraps. The all-star running back is the Giants' offense and Daniel Jones is incapable of carrying the offense as a passer. If defensive coordinator Dan Quinn can contain Barkley with a series of "plus-one" defenses (extra defender in the box), the Cowboys will eventually produce a handful of negative plays (sacks, tackles for loss or turnovers) that tilts the game in their favor on Turkey Day.