NFL Week 14 Predictions: Dallas Cowboys Keys vs. New York Giants

Mark OristanoContributor IIDecember 10, 2011

NFL Week 14 Predictions: Dallas Cowboys Keys vs. New York Giants

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    Nobody in Cowboy country figured it would shake out like this. 

    What was supposed to be a piece-of-cake victory in Arizona last week turned into a fourth-quarter debacle, and now the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys will decide the NFC East with two games in December.  

    The first is Sunday night at JerryWorld, and given the history between these two, it should be a great evening of football.  There are many things the Cowboys have to worry about tomorrow night.  Here are five.

Which Romo Shows Up?

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    Watch what happens when the Giants pass rush—which is pretty good even without Osi Umenyiora—gets in Tony Romo's face.  

    All great QBs—Manning (Indianapolis Manning), Brady, Rodgers—are able to step toward the rush and throw properly, even when the other guys are in their face and about to smash them.  Tony has a tendency to step back in that situation, and the pass sails on him.  (See Detroit game.)  

    Tony has the capacity to play great football, but it's that one backward step when the heat is on that costs him at times.  If he steps forward, so do the Cowboys.

See What Dez Does

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    The Cowboys gave Dez Bryant No. 88, which means they put him in the Drew Pearson/Michael Irvin class, and that's pretty select.  

    Bryant has shown flashes of brilliance from the WR spot.  But he's also all but fallen asleep on routes, or cut routes short leading to interceptions, etc.  There's only so much time in the NFL for a talented kid to stop coasting and start producing.  

    This is Dez' first really BIG game.  See what he contributes.

Yo, Murray!

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    DeMarco Murray has been a find for the Cowboys in his rookie season, but his production has fallen off of late.  He has only 66 yards a game over his last three starts.  

    If the Cowboys have FB Tony Fiammetta back from his illness (an inner ear problem, and those can be a real bummer), they can bring back some power to the running game and control the clock.  Murray shows a great ability to set up blockers and wait behind the line to choose his hole.  

    With a FB leading him through, the choice becomes simpler and quicker.

Cruz Control

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    Giants WR Victor Cruz...this kid is awesome.

    He already has over 1,000 yards and 17-plus yards per catch.  He's lit up the Giants offense, and he could have his best game yet against a dinged up—and still adjusting—Cowboys secondary.  

    The key here may not be so much who covers Cruz, if anybody can, but just how much DeMarcus Ware and company can get in Eli Manning's face.  They need to disrupt timing and routes with this combination.

    Give 'em an inch and they'll take 40 yards.  

    Cowboy CB Mike Jenkins did a job on Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona last week.  Cruz may present more of a challenge.  Maybe Rob Ryan can cover him?

Home Taj Mahal Advantage

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    Jerry Jones has been all over local radio all week talking about how the fans need to give the Cowboys home field advantage this Sunday night.  

    But here's the problem, or two.  

    Sure, the first time you walk into the place, it's huge and intimidating.  But I keep thinking back to the movie HOOSIERS, where Gene Hackman's team plays in the state final in the big arena and his kids are all slack-jawed—until Hackman has the kids measure how high the rim is, and how far the free-throw line is.  

    Same as the little gym back home.  Once the game starts, it's a 100-yard long field for both teams.

    And, the place is so huge, and the fans are so far away from the field, that big, roaring support never really gets going.  Dallas fans are known to kind of sit on their hands anyway.

    What may get the crowd into the game is if, and how soon, the Cowboys take control of it.