This week the New York Giants will look to pick up the pieces after last week’s disastrous performance against the Philadelphia Eagles, while traveling to another heated rival’s place, this time the opponent is the equally-hated Dallas Cowboys.
So, can the Giants regroup and play like they did in the previous games leading up to the Eagles game, or will this recent setback trigger some old habits?
Well, either way, the Giants better bring their A-game and come into the game with all they got, as the Cowboys are looking like the real deal at 5-1 and coming off a great win at Seattle last week. The Cowboys have a loaded offense and a defense rapidly improving and they will assuredly test the Giants on both sides of the ball.
That said, here are five things to look for.
Can Giants’ confidence be restored after humbling loss to Eagles?
Simply put, last week’s effort against the Eagles was atrocious, as the Giants could do nothing right on offense or defense. It was a butt kicking in every sense of the word.
So, can the Giants move forward and put that in the past?
Well, they must, because as I said before, Dallas will be ready for this NFC East battle. Just like in the Eagles, game, these two teams don’t like each other very much. The animosity should be running high. Usually, head coach Tom Coughlin does a great job of picking up his team and putting things into perspective. The effort, at least, should be there on Sunday.
Whether or not they can execute the game plan remains to be seen, but the Giants should be ready to forget about last week and come in with a fighter’s attitude.
How does team move on without Victor Cruz?
Perhaps the story of the Eagles’ debacle was the visual of seeing Cruz going down with a torn patella injury. It was a sad and tragic sight for all Giants’ fans, and how the team rallies behind this setback will ultimately define the season.
With Odell Bekham Jr. emerging and Rueben Randle a solid target, Eli Manning won’t be lacking in weapons in the passing game. Granted the presence of Cruz changes the dynamic of the offense, but no one will feel sorry for the Giants.
They must move on.
Look for Eli to spread the ball around and get everyone more involved. You may see Larry Donnell reemerge in the passing game. All hands will definitely be needed on deck if the Giants have ideas of sticking around with the Cowboys.
Can Andre Williams bounce back with a good game?
After an uninspiring performance last week in a good matchup against the Eagles, Williams will look to turn it around with another enticing matchup against a vulnerable Cowboys’ run defense on tap.
The Cowboys are allowing 115 rushing yards per game (17th in the NFL), but are allowing an even worse 5.1 yards per carry (31st in the NFL). So, if the Giants can win the time of possession battle and not have to engage in a shootout, Williams will be given every chance to carve up the Cowboy’s defense and keep the team in the game.
While he didn’t do a good job last week, rushing for only 59 yards on 17 carries, if the Giants can commit to Williams in the running game, the chances of pulling of a win will go up greatly.
How do Giants contain DeMarco Murray?
One of the many reasons the Cowboys are thriving this year is because they are feeding into their strengths and going with a ground-and-pound approach with Murray running behind one of the leagues’ better offensive lines.
Murray has fully broken out this year and has been a monster in between the tackles. He has rushed for a league-high 785 rushing yards on an impressive 4.9 YPC. Murray also leads the league in rushing touchdowns with six.
With the Giants also average against the run, yielding 116.3 rushing yards per game (18th in the NFL), they have to bring a better effort this time out. This is a game where Jon Beason has to step up and rally the troops on defense. Stopping Murray will prove to be yeoman’s work.
If the Giants can somehow contain the run and force Tony Romo into some mistakes in the passing game, it will go a long way in helping Giants pull off the win.
Will Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie play, and if not, how will his absence factor in?
Well, per Jordan Raanan of NJ.com, Rodgers-Cromartie has made the trip to Dallas. So, there is a chance he’ll play.
With Trumaine McBride done for the year, having healthy corners will prove to be critical in this matchup, as the Cowboys have electric receivers in Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams to lean on. Regardless of how well Murray is carrying Dallas in the running game, the Cowboys can and will spread it out with those two playmakers on the outside.
So, it would be nice to have a healthy and effective Rodgers-Cromartie. If not, the secondary will take a huge hit. This could potentially be a devastating absence and one that will bear watching on Sunday.
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