FRISCO, Texas – A closer look at the two most important matchups in this rematch between the Cowboys and Giants.
Dallas Cowboys OT Tyron Smith vs. New York Giants DE Olivier Vernon
With Jason Pierre Paul out of the lineup for the Giants, this is going to be the matchup the Cowboys have to win. Tyron Smith cannot let Olivier Vernon control this game with his pass rush and run-stopping ability.
Vernon is an outstanding athlete who plays with a sudden first step. His long arms and big strong hands are nice weapons to use to counter Smith. Smith is going to have to try and move him in the running game and not let him sit down to set the edge. Smith will also need to handle his lateral quickness when the ball bounces to the outside. He's a hard man to block when he is on the move.
Vernon does a really nice job of keeping blockers off his body. As a pass rusher, he can break his man down with moves. He has start-stop quickness, and he can get his man to lunge or extend, then work right around him. Keeps the blockers off balance that way. He has an effective spin move when rushing, and he has nice hips and change of direction. This is not a stiff-moving player at all. Vernon shows lower body bend and balance. He plays with range and doesn't give up on plays.
Where Vernon is so dangerous is in his ability to attack the pocket to create turnovers. He rushes at the level of the quarterback and is able to swat at the ball when he gets there. He knows how to use his reach to knock the ball out of the quarterback's hand. Disciplined player -- was not fooled run or pass. You have to keep a body on him at all times. He will chase the play down from the backside if left unblocked and get a tackle for loss or no gain.
I feel like this is the most complete defensive end that Tyron Smith plays all season.
Dallas Cowboys CB Brandon Carr vs. New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr.
You have to give Carr credit for the way he has played throughout this season. The move to right corner has saved his career, because he no longer has to deal with the ball coming his direction down after down.
In this matchup he will be dealing with a different cat -- one that will test his ability to play coverage underneath on crossing routes, where Carr tends to struggle. This is what makes Odell Beckham Jr. so special -- is the fact that he will take his routes all over the field. This is especially hard for defensive backs that try and carry him. It is a nightmare for any cornerbacks that don't have vertical or lateral speed to keep up with him. You see him just explode away from coverage.
Beckham is very aggressive going after the ball, and he will lay out for an off-target pass. He plays with a physical edge to his game, and he runs sharp and crisp routes. As we all know, he can shake a defender in the open field after a catch. He loves to run and catch a short pattern into the teeth of a defense, then turn it into a huge play.
Beckham's hands are his best trait. He can snatch the ball away from his body. He makes catches all over the field, in and out of traffic, one-handed or two – it doesn't matter. You can tell he works hard to be great at his position.
He has the speed to take the top off a secondary, and he also has the ability to get open underneath with quickness. This is obvious, but he is dangerous with the ball in his hands. This is a competitive and impact player who has the strength and explosion of a running back. He is not afraid to block, as he is more than willing to stick his nose in the action to free up the ball carrier.
Carr might not have the speed and quickness to keep up with Beckham in this matchup, but the one area he can compete is how physical he can be off the line and that will need to be good enough for the Cowboys.