When the NFC East rivals do battle on Sunday night, it's likely to play out in whatever way you aren't expecting. Not only are both squads incredibly bipolar during the regular season, but whenever these two teams in particular meet up, weird things tend to happen.
See Dallas' Week 1 road upset over New York for proof.
So, even though the Giants are, ahem, Cruzing after three straight wins and the Cowboys are getting eaten alive by the injury bug, don't expect the obvious result. All bets are off.
Let's take a closer look at the intriguing matchup.
When: Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, at 7:25 p.m. ET
Where: Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, TX
Listen: Sirius XM Radio: 86
Spread: New York (+2), according to Covers
Giants Injuries (via CBS)
DT Rocky Bernard, Quadriceps, Questionable
RB Ahmad Bradshaw, Foot, Questionable
WR Hakeem Nicks, Knee, Foot, Probable
S Kenny Phillips, Knee, Questionable
LB Jacquian Williams, Knee, Questionable
DB Will Hill, Suspension, Out
Cowboys Injuries (via CBS)
LB Sean Lee, Toe, Out
S Matt Johnson, Hamstring, Questionable
RB Felix Jones, Knee, Questionable
DE Sean Lissemore, Ankle, Questionable
RB DeMarco Murray, Foot, Doubtful
LB Anthony Spencer, Shoulder, Probable
LB DeMarcus Ware, Illness, Questionable
What's At Stake?
If the Cowboys manage the upset at home, the NFC East picture is going to look a lot cloudier than it already is.
The Giants currently sit in first place at 5-2, with the Eagles and Cowboys at 3-3 and the Redskins at 3-4. Should Dallas win on Sunday, they would not only move to a half-game within New York, but the Giants would fall to an atrocious 1-3 in the division with two losses against Dallas.
If the Giants win, however, they would distance themselves from the pack while improving the all-important division record.
This is as crucial as Week 8 matchups get.
Start 'Em: Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys
Many fantasy owners have given up hope after Romo's nine interceptions and two fumbles through the first six games of the season, but the pride of Eastern Illinois will not disappoint you in this one.
Romo is averaging 272 yards per game, he's finding the end zone on a consistent basis, the 'Boys will have to throw a bunch with a backfield resembling the final scene of a Saw movie and the Giants are giving up 8.1 yards per pass, which is 29th in the league.
I sense a big night coming for arguably the most enigmatic QB in the league not named Tim.
Sit 'Em: Both Defenses
The Giants are third in the NFL in takeaways, and if you combine that with their talented front seven, they make for an intriguing fantasy play, especially considering Tony "the Turnover" Romo will be on the other side of the ball.
But I'm not buying.
The Cowboys will have to throw the ball a lot, and at home, I wouldn't be surprised to see the offensive line, which is fourth best in the NFL in pass protection, protect Romo. Should that happen, the 'Boys will move the ball quite easily on this secondary.
As for Dallas' defense, they aren't forcing turnovers, Sean Lee, the anchor in the middle, is out and New York can score on anyone. No thanks.
What They're Saying
Jonathan Bales of The DC Times has a good idea of how Dallas can slow down New York's dangerous offensive attack (h/t Dallas Morning News):
And play Cover 2 the Cowboys did. I just re-watched the Week 1 win, focusing on Rob Ryan’s defensive calls. The Cowboys played with a Cover 2 shell on 39 of their 51 defensive snaps (76.5 percent). On the 12 plays Ryan decided to dial up something other than Cover 2 (or Cover 2 Man-Under), the Cowboys yielded one rush for 32 yards and 11 passes for 78 yards (7.09 net yards-per-attempt). Eli Manning was actually 7-for-9 for 98 yards (10.89 YPA) when the ‘Boys had just one safety deep, but DeMarcus Ware also had two sacks for -20 yards. When the Cowboys sat back in any form of Cover 2, Manning averaged only 5.0 YPA and the Giants’ running game, which should have excelled against the look, totaled just 2.78 YPC.
Let’s hope that Ryan doesn’t blitz Manning more often than he did in Week 1 in an effort to force turnovers. Although Manning struggles when pressured like any other quarterback, he’s exceptional against the blitz because he reads it and gets the ball out so quickly. His 99.5 passer rating against the blitz in 2012 is higher than his overall rating of 92.5.
It sounds good in theory, but if the Cowboys drop back too often, the Giants' running game, which has been dominant over the past few weeks, looks capable of beating a Sean Lee-less defense this time around.
Giants Player to Watch: Eli Manning, QB
It's going to be hard to excuse Eli Manning from the MVP talk at this point.
The veteran QB is completing a career-high 63.8 percent of his passes for a league-leading 2,109 yards (301.3 per game) to go along with 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
More importantly, he continues to be nearly unstoppable in late-game situations, as evidenced by his two game-winning drives and two fourth-quarter comebacks.
With New York's running game working so well right, teams aren't able to focus solely on Manning. That makes him and his talented receivers incredibly scary.
Cowboys Player to Watch: Dez Bryant, WR
You know, in the train wreck sort of way.
Bryant is one of most gifted players in the NFL, but his bozo brain and rubber hands often get in the way of him maximizing his ridiculous potential.
What other player will have games of 105 yards and 95 yards with two touchdowns and still be seen as a major disappointment? Only Bryant, who could have easily turned both of those performances into 150-yard games.
The third-year wide receiver is a little banged up, but if he finds his way onto the field, know that he could blow up for three long touchdowns just as easily as he could blow up for about seven drops.
Key Story: How Will Cowboys Fare Without Sean Lee?
The Cowboys have struggled with turnovers, but as stated before, they should have no problem moving the ball against an inconsistent Giants defense.
If Dallas has any plans of winning this game; however, it's going to have to find a way to slow down New York's offense, which has been passing and running over teams with relative ease. It would appear that the Cowboys, who rank 14th in scoring defense and fourth in yardage defense in the NFL, would be up to the task, but losing Sean Lee is brutal.
The talented middle linebacker did pretty everything for Dallas, and replacing him will be difficult.
If the defense resembles it's pre-Lee form, Dallas will be in good shape. If not, then hello, 3-4.
Smart money says the Giants, behind a red-hot offense, will roll to a victory against a banged-up Cowboys squad.
All the more reason to go with the Cowboys at home.
New York Giants 27, Dallas Cowboys 30
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