IRVING, Texas – A look at the two matchups I think will play the biggest part in determining Sunday's game against the Giants.
Cowboys OTs Tyron Smith and Doug Free vs. Giants DEs Mathias Kiwanuka and Jason Pierre-Paul
There is no question that Scott Linehan is going to try and run the ball against the Giants.
In going back and taking a look at the games since the last time these two teams met, where teams have had success is their ability to take the ball off the edges at these Giants defensive ends. Throughout their careers, Kiwanuka and Pierre-Paul have not been the most physical players when it comes to setting the edge. Their games are built more on getting up the field rushing the passer than anchoring down to defend the run -- which has been a problem.
I know the numbers say this is one of the worse rushing defenses in the league, but if there is a positive to this defense in defending the run, it comes more from the inside. On tape Johnathan Hankins, Robert Ayers and Jameel McClain are good football players.
Where I would have a concern is if Kiwanuka and Pierre-Paul do have some success on the edge and those cutbacks that we have seen from Murray all season might not be as clean and those holes are not there -- which happened against the Cardinals. I expect the Giants to work with the same plan in mind, clogging up those inside running lanes and playing McClain downhill with some run blitzes, much like the Cardinals, did to try and get a body on Murray before he can make it to the edge. That is their best shot in this game.
Cowboys CBs vs. Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr.
When Rob Ryan was the defensive coordinator in Dallas, I believe you would have seen him match Orlando Scandrick up with Beckham Jr. the entire game, but that will not be the case this week under Rod Marinelli.
This current coaching staff has the philosophy of playing their corners on one side and matching personnel that way. Scandrick will see Beckham when he lines up on that offensive left side, as well as when he works out of the slot. Knowing this, I expect the Giants to try and keep Scandrick away from Beckham by putting him with Brandon Carr and Sterling Moore when they go to their "11" personnel package.
Scandrick has the speed and quickness to handle all the routes that Beckham can execute, especially the vertical ones that I observed him running against the 49ers. Carr and Moore do not have the same speed as Scandrick, so their technique in coverage will be much different in that they are physically going to have to beat Beckham up at the line and neutralize his ability to use his speed to get up the field.
The last situation that Carr and Moore want to be in is chasing Beckham all over the field with free access in his routes, because that puts them in a no-win situation. I just have this feeling that Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo is going to test these Cowboys corners and feature Beckham to create some big plays.