Giants vs. Cowboys: Who Has the Edge in Week 14?
The New York Giants are clinging desperately to their playoff hopes with a four-game losing streak following a 6-2 start to the season. One game out of the NFC East race, the Giants are scheduled to meet the division-leading Dallas Cowboys in Cowboys Stadium for the first of two games between both teams in the final four weeks of the season.
Both teams enter this game with a number of question marks and a number of concerns following heartbreaking walk-off losses in Week 13. The Giants fell short in the final seconds against the undefeated defending Super Bowl Champions, the Green Bay Packers, 38-35. The Cowboys dropped an overtime loss to the Arizona Cardinals, 19-13, following a boggling timeout by head coach Jason Garrett that may have caused kicker Dan Bailey to miss a final second 49-yard field goal in regulation.
Despite both teams being atop the NFC East and right in the thick of the NFC playoff race, the Giants and Cowboys come into Week 14 stumbling with shoddy play that has become synonymous with both teams in the second half of the season.
The Giants and Cowboys both hope to right the ship and keep on pace as they march towards the playoffs, looking to knock the other off and gain some much-needed momentum.
The New York-Dallas matchups are always a classic showdown with a highlight reel of offense and spectacular defensive performances. Playoff implications seem to always be at stake when these two meet, but who will have the advantage in Week 14?
Giants Pass Offense vs. Cowboys Pass Defense
Nick Laham/Getty Images
The New York Giants have had one of the most successful passing attacks in 2011. Led by Eli Manning, the Giants have accounted for the NFL’s fourth-best pass offense and are arguably the only reason the Giants were able to stay afloat this season.
Manning has had mixed success against the Dallas Cowboys in years past—he passed for 306 yards in a Week 7 win in 2010, 373 yards in Week 10, but two costly interceptions along with a poor defensive performance handed them a loss.
Manning and company have done a phenomenal job this season though, with receivers Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks playing a huge role in the Giants’ success. The Cowboys secondary is one of the less impressive units in the NFL, but the Cowboys do boast the NFL’s 14th-ranked pass defense.
Manning should be able to pick apart the Cowboys secondary with his plethora of young receivers as well as tight end Jake Ballard and running back Ahmad Bradshaw out of the backfield. If Manning can avoid the costly turnovers—such as his first quarterback pick-six to Clay Matthews in Week 13—the Giants should leave Cowboys Stadium 3-0 in Jerry Jones’ billion dollar facility.
That is, if the Giants can withhold the Cowboys’ swarming pass rush. The Cowboys are second in the NFL in sacks with 33. Fortunately, the Giants have fared well against the pass rush even with some of the worst pass protection in the NFL.
Giants Ground Attack vs. Cowboys Run Defense
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
The Dallas Cowboys haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher since their Week 10 victory over Fred Jackson and the Buffalo Bills. The Cowboys are the eight-ranked defense in terms of rushing yards, but have allowed a pedestrian 4.2 yards per carry to their opponents.
The Giants have struggled to rush against even the most mediocre of opponents, boasting the NFL’s worst rushing team by a long shot. They have failed to have a 100-yard rusher since Ahmad Bradshaw had 104 yards and three scores against the Buffalo Bills in Week 6. The performance was Bradshaw’s best of the year and the Giants have been unable to match it since.
Once a great running team, the Giants do have the ability to run the ball well, but it’s unlikely with a poor offensive line, hurting Bradshaw, and disappointing Brandon Jacobs, that Big Blue will be able to accomplish much on the ground in Dallas.
Cowboys Pass Offense vs. Giants Pass Defense
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
The Giants pass defense has not played well this season. Still, there’s nothing the Giants love to do more than sack the quarterback. When the Giants play the Cowboys that is especially true.
In the past, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo’s failure to handle the pressure from the Giants’ pass rush has resulted in costly interceptions, injuries, and ultimately losses for the Cowboys. The Giants are fifth in sacks and ninth in interceptions in the NFL and should give Romo some trouble, despite being the NFL’s 29th-ranked pass defense.
Romo should be able to post big numbers against the Giants defense, but if defensive coordinator Perry Fewell can get his defense back on pace, the Giants should give the Cowboys fits.
Cowboys Ground Attack vs. Giants Run Defense
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
He started the year as the Dallas Cowboys third running back on the depth chart, but rookie DeMarco Murray has emerged as an elite back in the NFL.
Despite not starting the year as the Cowboys’ starting running back, Murray is 11th in the NFL in rushing yards with 872 yards and 5.5 yards per carry. Murray has not had a big performance for the Cowboys since his 135-yard day against the Bills in Week 10, but another breakout game against the Giants in their 23rd-ranked run defense could be in order.
The Giants have struggled to stop the league’s best rushers, surrendering big days to LeSean McCoy (twice), Beanie Wells, Marshawn Lynch, Fred Jackson and even Reggie Bush. Dallas is 5-2 since DeMarco Murray’s record-breaking, 253-yard rushing day against the St. Louis Rams in Week 7.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Neither team boasts the NFL’s best special teams unit by any means in this game. With the change to kick returns and the lack of punt return success from either the Giants or Cowboys, special teams could serve useless in this game.
The Giants’ Steve Weatherford and Dallas’ Mat McBriar have both been solid in the punting game and have yet to do anything detrimental in the field position game for their teams. The field goal is largely successful for both teams as well, though Dallas’ Dan Bailey missed two costly field goal in the Cowboys’ overtime loss to the Cardinals in Week 13.
Usually, the Giants would be at a disadvantage in the special teams department, bringing one of the worst units in the NFL to play each week, but they’re lucky to be facing a less-than-impressive unit in the Cowboys in Week 14.
Chris Trotman/Getty Images
The coaching department is another where each team boasts questionable coaching staffs. The Giants’ Kevin Gilbride and Perry Fewell both appear to be on the hot seat and it’s possible head coach Tom Coughlin could be as well.
Still, Coughlin’s experience and success outweighs Jason Garrett and his coordinators in this game. Coughlin has had a fair share of success against the Cowboys, especially in Dallas, and will have his team ready to bounce back from their tough four-game stretch.
The Giants are in a must-win game in Dallas and Coughlin will not allow his team to continue to slip in the second half of this season.
The Giants Will Win If...
Al Bello/Getty Images
The New York Giants need their defense to step up this week against the Cowboys. This game could decide the Giants future in 2011 as well as going forward and is a must-win for New York. That means no stupid penalties, no costly mistakes, and no big plays.
If the Giants can get after Romo and fluster him enough to throw the ball up for grabs, they should have a field day with him in the passing game. On the ground, they must contain DeMarco Murray. Murray can have a big day, like LeSean McCoy and Fred Jackson, so long as the Giants keep him from being the big home run threat he’s capable of being.
The Giants keep the Cowboys from highlighting the scoreboard and Eli Manning and his offense should do enough to win this game.
The Cowboys Will Win If...
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
The Cowboys have played great football in the second half of this season. Tony Romo has played smart football and DeMarco Murray has been a major addition to the Cowboys high-powered offense. Romo has had some good games in his career and he’s had some bad ones—this one must be a good one.
Dallas holds the NFC East lead and can put themselves in great position to win the division title with a great offensive performance in Week 14 vs. the Giants.
Al Bello/Getty Images
The Giants are playing with more on the line against a Dallas Cowboys team who took a heartbreaking loss in Week 13 vs. the Arizona Cardinals. Both teams are pretty even coming in, but Eli Manning and the offense should be able to do enough to outplay Tony Romo and his offense on the scoreboard.
If the Giants can play defense like they did earlier in the season, limiting DeMarco Murray, getting after Romo and forcing turnovers, the Giants should leave Dallas with a momentum-shifting victory as the playoff race heats up in the NFC East.
Prediction: Giants 38, Cowboys 34