Frank Gray BGB Editor
The New York Giants (6-6) enter this weekend with confidence. After taking the defending Super Bowl champions to the brink of their first loss and nearly pulling it out (had the refs not put in the fix), the Giants take their intensity to Texas to face off with the Dallas Cowboys (7-5).
This week is a must win scenario for the Giants, but as our own Jim Mancari reminded us yesterday, they currently control their own destiny. They trail Dallas by one game in the standings and need to sweep them in both games this season while winning out the rest of the way in order to take the division crown home.
A tough task? Possibly, but the Giants have swept the Cowboys before. Recently in fact. It was only 2009 when they ruined the home opener of their brand new stadium in Texas and then defeated them later that year at home.
The Giants are 4-2 versus them overall since 2008 and 2-1 in Dallas. I wrote a few days ago about how Eli Manning has excelled in recent years against them. The truth is that he has turned a corner to an extent when it comes to Dallas.
The Cowboys are coming off of a close game last week against Arizona. One that they easily could have won. With a combination of poor clock management and bad use of timeouts, they limped out of it with an embarrassing loss and having squandered an opportunity to clinch the division this week.
The Cowboys know, however, that the Giants need to sweep to catch and surpass them for the NFC East crown. The desire to spoil that for a division rivalry that is so fierce will be very strong. This is something they will be certain to keep in mind as the two teams face off Sunday night in prime time.
#1 Keep your composure. The Giants can't afford to let the intensity of the moment carry them away. They need this win far too badly to allow themselves to slip in old habits. False starts and holding penalties will kill drives and stop momentum.
#2 Balance! The Cowboys rank 14th against the pass, 9th against the run. They have a balanced defense, but one that can be exposed. The Giants have the weapons to expose them. This is the game where they should come out passing to open up the run game, then as the run game is getting established, use the play-action pass efficiently. A proper balance on offense can thwart a balanced defense like this one.
#3 Over-aggression can be used for good. The Cowboys are filled with play makers on defense. None more imposing than DeMarcus Ware. His 15 sacks make him a player the Giants have to account for. He will be aggressive all day.
Use that aggression against him by calling draw plays and screens to Ahmad Bradshaw. Be less predictable when running these plays. Opposing teams know that every time D.J. Ware is in, he will get a screen pass. Mix it up and they will catch the defense off guard.
#1 Keep Romo flustered. Tony Romo is a solid QB. He has 22 TD passes to just nine INTs for 3,325 yards. However, he can be forced into mistakes when he gets frazzled. In fact, six of his nine picks came in losses. He makes mistakes that hurt the team. The problem is that he is mobile and can make things happen outside of the pocket.
Don't get me wrong, he will not be reminding anyone of Michael Vick, or better yet, Randall Cunningham when these teams meet, but he can and will make plays when forced out of the pocket. He has to be kept in the pocket and frazzled simultaneously. Sounds difficult, I know.
If the Giants can't wrap him up in the pocket, they have to cover their gap assignments to keep him close, then it's just a matter of time to get to him or to get their hands up for a favorable deflection.
#2 Stop the run and you'll stop the pass. The Cowboys have a dynamic group of receiving options. They rank 7th in the league when passing the ball. It's the rushing attack, however, that opens things up for them.
Despite being ranked 14th, they use the running game to set up play-action situations and extend drives in short yardage scenarios quite effectively. They are led by the surprising DeMarco Murray. His explosiveness helped revitalize the run game after Felix Jones went down to injury earlier this season.
Now, with both of them healthy, the Cowboys will be looking to use the tandem to cause some damage and help Romo manage the game better. The Giants need to take this option away as best as they can in order to render the Cowboys offense more predictable and one-dimensional; a passing team.
#3 Continue to be physical, bit don't overdo it. The Giants defense has to remain physical with the receivers that they oppose. Just because the refs threw some bad flags last week does not mean the defense was wrong for making contact within the five yard limit.
By doing this, the secondary can and will disrupt the timing of the routes that the speedy wideouts run and possibly force a turnover. At worst, this repeated action will cause a lot of drops and incompletions.
Player of the Game- The Giants player of the game will be Ahmad Bradshaw. He will notch his first 100 yard rushing effort of the season. Combined with yardage on screens and other opportunities in the passing game he should have a complete game with one or two TDs.
Runner Up- The other player that should have a solid game will be Justin Tuck. He comes in motivated and ready to make some noise. With Osi Umneyiora listed as questionable, the opposing O-Line for Dallas will have a hard time with the combination of Tuck and J.P.P.. If Osi does play, they will be focusing in on him and Tuck will make them pay for it. Either way, expect a good game from Justin Tuck.
Last week, the Giants suffered another crushing loss. Two of our staff wisely, but insincerely picked the Packers. For that, they get one point. The rest of us remain idle as the Giants losing streak rolled on. The pack is tightening up for the final four weeks as Adam has moved into a tie for second place.
Both he and I are just two points away from Alyssa for the lead. Jim is one point behind us, with Tom just one point behind him in last place. Remember, the closest prediction of the final score of a Giants win gets three points, the next closest gets two and the third closest gets one. There are four games left and anything can happen.
Alyssa (8)- Giants
Frank (6)- 34-27, Giants
Adam (6)- 31-24, Giants
Jim (5)- 23-20, Giants
Tom (4)- Giants
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