NFL Game Of The Week #17: Cowboys at Giants

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 11: Quarterback Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants reacts in the first half while taking on the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium on December 11, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Dallas Cowboys(8-7) at New York Giants(8-7) (Sun. Jan. 1st, 2012 @ 8:20pm(EST.)

Stars Watch:
(Dallas): QB Tony Romo -
The Cowboys QB has an injured throwing hand that was sustained last week. Dallas needs for him to be ready to play Sunday night for them to have any chance of beating their divisional rival the New York Giants. Romo right now is the straw that stirs the drink for the offense and without him their passing game would take a big hit in being productive. He has thrown for 3,895 yards and 29 tds. Dallas faces a Giants secondary that has been allowing big passing plays in 2011.

(New York): QB Eli Manning - Eli has been one of the most productive QBs all season. He has passed for over 4,500 yards and thrown 26 td passes. He has a knack for making big plays late in games throughout the year. He has a passer rating of 107.5 in the fourth quarter overall. It is his time to shine once again with a big time performance against Dallas. The NFC East division championship is on the line, hosting a home wildcard playoff game, and playing this game at home in prime time versus owner Jerry Jones' Dallas Cowboys are all reasons for him to play well and continue to have his name mentioned with all the other top QBs as being elite.

New York Offense vs. Dallas Defense: The Giants pass offense has been consistent all year especially late in games. QB Eli Manning is a big reason why and leads the NFL with a QB rating of 107.5 in the fourth quarter. He has passed for a season career high of 4,587 yards. WR Victor Cruz(1,358 yards) and WR Hakeem Nicks(1,116 yards) have been the benefactors of most of those yards. New York's problem area has been the lack of a consistent running game and rank 32nd in the NFL. RB Ahmad Bradshaw has missed some games and so has RB Brandon Jacobs, but they now look ready and healthy enough to help New York win this game and make a playoff push. The Cowboys have maybe the best pass rusher in all of football in DE/OLB DeMarcus Ware who has 18 sacks. He needs to have a great game and pressure QB Eli Manning into hurried throws and give his secondary time to stay with these talented Giants receivers. You here all the time about the Cowboys corners having trouble covering, but I believe they need to invest in a playmaking safety to help out Mike Jenkins and Terrance Newman. Here is a quiz: name the 2 starting safeties for the Cowboys? Can u do it without looking it up? They need an upgrade their next year.

New York Defense vs. Dallas Offense: New York has the best set of pass rushers in the NFL. They are led by second year DE Jason Pierre-Paul who has 15.5 sacks but what is more impressive is he has 81 tackles. His line mates DE Justin Tuck and DE Osi Umenyiora can bring the pressure as well. The Giants linebackers are not a stellar group and need a field general in the middle of the field. The secondary has 3 former first round picks starting and have been allowing too many big passing plays with mental lapses. Corner Corey Webster is the other starter and is a former 2nd round pick and has been the most productive while leading the team with 6 ints. Dallas pass offense is just as explosive as the Giants. QB Tony Romo can eclipse 4,000 yards passing and 30 tds in this game. He has three pro bowl caliber receivers in TE Jason Witten, WR Dez Bryant, and WR Miles Austin. RB Felix Jones has been battling injuries throughout the season and will start in this game. He has the ability to turn short runs into big gains with his homerun speed.

Key Stats:
Dallas (NFL Rank & Yards) New York (NFL Rank & Yards)

Rush Off. 15th - 117.2ypg 32nd - 88.1ypg
Pass Off. 8th - 263.3ypg 4th - 293.5ypg
Rush Def. 7th - 96.6ypg 22nd - 126.1ypg
Pass Def. 22nd - 238.3ypg 26th - 255.4ypg

Total Offense: 9th 8th
Total Defense: 14th 28th

Points Per Game: 23.7ppg (12th) 24.2ppg (7th)

Key Matchups:
Cowboys Offensive Tackles (versus) Giants Defensive Ends:
The rookie RT Tyron Smith has been a bright spot all year for an offensive line that had a major overhaul during the off season. He and LT Doug Free will have their hands full keeping QB Tony Romo standing from a relentless Giants pass rush. If Romo is injured because of a miss block by one of these guys the Cowboys could be headed home to watch the playoffs on television. The Giants have perhaps the best group of pass rushers on one team. Led by DE Jason Pierre-Paul who has 15.5 sacks along with Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora. In the first meeting this year, won by the Giants 37-34, Jason Pierre-Paul was a big factor. He sacked Tony Romo for a safety and also blocked a 47 yard field goal attempt by Dallas' kicker Dan Bailey on the game's final play. Tackles Smith and Free will have to give QB Tony Romo time in the pocket to get the ball to his many receiving weapons.

Giants Wide Receivers (versus) Dallas Cornerbacks: The Giants have two dynamic wide receivers in Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. They both have over 1,000 yards receiving and at least 6 td catches. Nicks has been nursing a hamstring injury and has been in and out of the lineup, but when he does play the Giants offense can be very explosive. QB Eli Manning looks for these two guys when the game is on the line or a big play is needed and they usually deliver. Dallas has had some troubles this year in their secondary mainly because of injuries to their starting cornerbacks. Mike Jenkins and Terrance Newman can't seem to get on the field at the same time due to various untimely injuries. In the first meeting back on Dec.11th, the Cowboys secondary was diced up by Eli Manning who passed for 400 yards and led the Giants to two tds in the game's final 3 minutes to get the comeback win. They will need to more aggressive this time around with the Giants receivers and try to throw off the timing of their routes and get help over the top from their safeties.

Final Word: Well, this game is definitely a loser leave town match. The winner is the NFC East division champs and gets a playoff berth. The loser heads home to watch the playoffs on television. The first meeting on Dec.11th produced an exciting finish with the Giants coming from behind 34-22 to win in the final minutes 37-34. These two teams have plenty of pass offense and can move the ball downfield with a deep passing game. Dallas' fortunes rely on the health of QB Tony Romo who sustained an injured throwing hand against the Philadelphia Eagles. If he has trouble with his grip or gets re-injured it could be a long day for their offense. The team who can establish the run better could have the upper hand, but with that said these two team's strength are their QBs and will probably come down to one of them making a play at the end for their respective team.

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