New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys: Full Dallas Game Preview

Joey IckesFeatured ColumnistOctober 22, 2015

New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys: Full Dallas Game Preview

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    Brandon Wade/Associated Press

    The Dallas Cowboys have a great opportunity in front of them in the form of their Week 7 matchup with the New York Giants.  After falling to the New England Patriots in Week 5, the Cowboys are losers of three straight and will be without quarterback Tony Romo for at least another four games.

    But with a 2-0 record against division opponents and the struggles of the other NFC East teams, the Cowboys find themselves in position to be optimistic.

News and Notes

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    Brandon Wade/Associated Press

    Dez Watch

    The single biggest story revolving around this week is whether the fractured bone in Dez Bryant’s foot has fully healed, allowing him to return to practice on either Wednesday or Thursday with the goal of playing Sunday afternoon against the Giants.

    Mike Fisher of CBS Dallas-Fort Worth (h/t CowboysHQ) has detailed the “plan” for Bryant to be healed six weeks after the surgery and be back on the field in less than eight weeks.

    This week’s game is an important one, and the presence of Bryant on the field could change things significantly for a Cowboys offense that has seen its share of struggles over the last month, but rushing Bryant back would probably be unwise.

    Changes Coming on Offense

    Since the injury to Tony Romo in Week 2, the Cowboys offense has struggled to sustain possession, make explosive plays and score touchdowns in the red zone. In an attempt to provide a jolt to the offense, the coaching staff has decided to make several changes to the offensive depth chart.

    The first and highest-profile move was the decision to insert Matt Cassel as the starting quarterback in place of Brandon Weeden. While Cassel does represent an upgrade in specific areas where Weeden may have struggled, as Bob Sturm of the Dallas Morning News points out, he is still a backup-level quarterback who comes with limitations and should not be expected to perform at levels at which Cowboys fans are accustomed to seeing Romo play.

    The other two moves, also of great importance but not matching that of the quarterback, make La’el Collins the starter at left guard, and bring Christine Michael to the head of the running back committee.

    If these moves are able to spark the Cowboys offense to a higher performance level, it will go a long way to helping the team stay in position to contend for the division title as it awaits the return of their franchise quarterback.

Latest Injury News

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    Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
    PlayerPositionInjuryWed. Practice
    Dez BryantWRFootDid Not Practice
    Randy GregoryDEAnkleFull Participant
    Brice ButlerWRHamstringFull Participant
    James HannaTEAnkleLimited Participant

    (All injury information courtesy of Dallascowboys.com)

    Again, the big news on the injury front is, and will continue to be, Dez Bryant. The fact that he did not participate in practice Wednesday casts significant doubt on his availability for Sunday at MetLife Stadium. Outside of Bryant, it appears that the team benefitted greatly from its Week 6 bye, as the other 52 players on the roster took part, with only James Hanna being limited.

X-Factor and Matchup to Watch

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    Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

    Cowboys Defensive Line vs. Giants Offensive Line

    In spite of the attempts of the coaching staff to inject life into the Cowboys offense, it is likely that the team will need to be carried by the performance of the defense through the next few weeks. In order for any defense to dominate a game, it needs to get great play from its defensive line. This Cowboys team is no different.

    The Giants offensive line is coming off of a performance on Monday night in which the Philadelphia Eagles recorded three sacks, five quarterback hits and eight tackles for loss. The Giants tackles, rookie Ereck Flowers and veteran Marshall Newhouse did a poor job of dealing with the Eagles edge rushers, specifically Brandon Graham and Connor Barwin, who were consistently in Eli Manning’s face.

    If the Cowboys can generate the type of pass rush that they did against the Patriots in Week 5, and the Giants offensive line struggles as mightily as they did against Philadelphia, it will be a long day for Manning and the rest of the Giants offense.

    Cowboys X-Factor of the Week: Tyrone Crawford

    One of the ways Eli Manning overcomes the struggles of his offensive tackles is by getting the ball out of his hands quickly to his receivers; another is stepping up in the pocket as the edge rushers run past him.

    The best way for a defense to counter these actions is with pressure from the interior of the defensive line. This is where it will look to Tyrone Crawford to make plays. If Crawford can collapse the front of the pocket from his defensive tackle spot, it will make Manning’s life difficult and the jobs of the defensive ends', like Greg Hardy, Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence, easier.

Prediction

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    Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

    Games between the Cowboys and Giants are virtually unpredictable. But considering the Cowboys have never lost four games in a row with Jason Garrett as the head coach, and the fact that the Cowboys defense seems primed to generate takeaways and carry the load for the team, I believe Dallas scores enough points to even its record at 3-3 and stay undefeated in the division.

    Prediction: Cowboys 28, Giants 24