IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys will try to end a three-game losing streak Sunday in their second of two meetings with the NFC East rival Giants at the Meadowlands. To do that, they'll have to play particularly well in certain areas.
Let's take a look at this week's keys to the game:
Dallas Cowboys Win If:
The Giants are one of the best teams in the league when it comes to playing run defense. Opponents have averaged less than 4 yards a carry both at home and away. For the Giants, it starts up front with Johnathan Hankins and Cullen Jenkins. Offenses have shown an inability to get any type of push at the point of attack. Both Hankins and Jenkins are not only physically strong, but it's rare to see them get their bodies turned in the hole. As they play square, they make it difficult for the backs to find any lanes or holes to run through because they are able to hold the blockers up which allows their linebackers to step up or flow to make stops. This is a huge improvement from a defense that allowed right at 5 yards a carry in 2014. Opponents have only run the ball an average of 23 times a game when visiting the Meadowlands, and Dallas in its two road games has attempted an average of 31 rushes. If the Cowboys are going to win this game, it is not only going to take that kind of commitment, but having success running the ball. There will be plenty of dirty and tough runs, but that cannot discourage them from trying. If they can get it going, then Matt Cassel will surprise you with his ability to function as a play-action quarterback and his ability to make plays.
New York Giants Win If:
Where the Giants had their struggles last week was their inability to win on the outside with their receivers. The Eagles were not known to have the strongest secondary in the league but were outstanding in limiting the opportunities Odell Beckham Jr. and Ruben Randle had once they were able to grab the lead. With Beckham and Randle covered, it allowed the Eagles' front seven to tee off on Eli Manning and this offensive line. What has to be a concern for the Giants is that this Cowboys secondary is better than what they faced last week. Look for the Giants to target one side of the field, likely Brandon Carr. The Giants' passing game is built on timing and inside routes -- this is an area where Carr has struggled the most. He doesn't have the quickness or burst to stay with a guy like Beckham if he doesn't get his hands on him. When Carr has to play from the chase position, bad things usually happen to him. For the Giants to win this game, their receivers are going to have to win those one-on-one matchups and take advantage of the weakness in what we've seen from Carr. Expect the ball to come out quick from Manning because the last thing he wants is Greg Hardy and this Dallas front seven putting him on his back like he was Monday night.