All good things must come to an end, and for the New York Giants, their 6-game win streak ended last Sunday with a mood-crushing loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Big Blue will look to bounce back this week in their most important game of the season, a primetime matchup against their biggest rivals, the Dallas Cowboys.
The Cowboys are riding high this year, and are currently in the midst of a 10-game win streak (in fact, the Cowboys’ only loss all year came against the Giants in Week 1 by a 20-19 score). Dallas has the look of a Super Bowl contender for the first time in a decade.
Kickoff is set for 8:30 pm as a part of NBC’s Sunday Night Football.
New York Giants: Offense
The 2016 season is three-quarters of the way complete, and the Giants still have not put together a complete effort on offense all year long. The team has yet to score more than 28 points in any one game this year, a sign that the team may not be as good on offense as fans were led to believe in the preseason.
Eli Manning is coming off of the worst start of his season, which included 2 interceptions. Odell Beckham Jr. had another big game, but once again the Giants had no support to offer their top playmaker; this time it was Victor Cruz that was shut out offensively.
On the bright side, the offense could get a boost with the potential returns of Justin Pugh and Shane Vereen for this week’s matchup.
Dallas Cowboys: Offense
Cowboys fans often say that they have the best offense in the NFL, but this year they are absolutely justified in making such a claim. After Tony Romo was lost due to yet another back injury, many wrote off the raw, young, Cowboys offense. Boy were those pundits wrong.
Rookie QB Dak Prescott has been nothing short of spectacular this season, completing almost 68% of his passes, compiling a stellar 19-2 TD-INT ratio (not to mention 5 rushing TDs), and accumulating a superlative 108.6 passer rating.
However, Prescott’s development is only 1/3 of the Cowboys’ potent attack. 4th overall pick Ezekiel Elliott has been the NFL’s best running back this year, blending a mix of power, speed, and elusiveness into one unstoppable TD machine. Throw in contributions from Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, and Jason Witten, as well as the NFL’s best offensive line, and you’ve got the most unstoppable offense in the NFL today.
New York Giants: Defense
It is easy to see how the Cowboys routinely drop 30 points on their competition, but if there’s one thing the Giants can count on, it’s a solid effort from their defense. However, the team will be without its defensive leader, Jason Pierre-Paul, for the rest of the season due to a sports hernia.
The Giants do not have another quality defensive end waiting in the wings, which puts more pressure on Olivier Vernon, Jonathan Hankins, and Damon Harrison to keep on keeping on, even as more double-teams come their way. The linebackers will also have to stop the run better to make up for the loss of their top run-stuffer, Pierre-Paul.
Some games are won and lost in the trenches, but this game could be decided in the secondary. Janoris Jenkins, Landon Collins, and co. will need to bounce back after allowing 30 points to the Steelers last week.
Dallas Cowboys: Defense
The Cowboys do not have an outstanding defense on paper, but they have only allowed 30 points once all season themselves, also against the Steelers (a Cowboy win nonetheless). The Cowboys do not get a lot of sacks or quarterback hits, but their back-seven is superb.
Linebackers Sean Lee and Anthony Hitchens are stout run stoppers, and veteran cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Orlando Scandrick have bounced back and are shutting down the NFL’s finest wideouts once again.
The Giants need not underestimate Dallas’ defense, as the Cowboys play a lot of press man coverage and are a physical defense for any team to play against.
New York Giants: Special Teams
Kicker Robbie Gould finally put together a clean game last week against the Steelers, converting his every kick. The Giants are still putzing around in the return game, no matter who they run out to return kicks.
Dallas Cowboys: Special Teams
On the other hand, the Cowboys have exceptionally strong special teams. Kicker Dan Bailey is the most accurate kicker in NFL history, punter Chris Jones has the leg and the hang time, and return man Lucky Whitehead is a threat.
The Giants can (and will) learn from last week’s tough loss to Pittsburgh, but the lessons will not kick in this week. The offense has looked out of sync all year long, and it’s beginning to seem that it will never kick into gear. Meanwhile, the defense has been solid, but the Cowboys can (and will) drop 30 points on anyone that stands in their way.
Throw in the fact that the Giants rarely fare well in primetime games, and you’ve got all you need to know to make this week’s prediction.
31-21, Cowboys (Record picking Giants games: 9-3)