One of the most fascinating storylines of Sunday’s Cowboys-Giants rematch at MetLife Stadium centers on the Giants’ offense and the Cowboys’ defense. Both have had a rough go of it at times this season, which makes this a matchup both clubs have to think they can win.
In the first meeting between the clubs in September, the Giants’ passing game took apart the Cowboys’ pass defense, with Eli Manning throwing for 450 yards and four touchdowns. Overall, the Giants completed six passes of 20 yards or more.
However, that wasn’t enough to secure victory for the Giants, not with Big Blue committing six turnovers, half of which were Manning interceptions, in a 36-31 loss to the Cowboys.
The Giants, who racked 478 total yards in Week One, have not reached 400 yards in a game since. What’s more, the Giants have not scored more than 27 points in any subsequent games.
On the other hand, the Cowboys’ defense has continued to struggle. Dallas has surrendered more than 600 yards in two of its last three games. Overall, the Cowboys have given 500 yards or more four times since Week One.
The Cowboys have dealt with defensive injuries all season. Key middle linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring) will miss Sunday’s game against the Giants. However, defensive end DeMarcus Ware (thigh) and cornerback Morris Claiborne (hamstring) were able to practice on a limited basis on Wednesday. Ware’s presence is especially important to a Dallas pass rush that has delivered little in the way results in the last three games, notching just four sacks.
It will be interesting to see how the Cowboys try to combat the Giants’ passing game. They had problems with all three of the Giants’ top wideouts in Week One, with Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle all exceeding 100 yards.
Cruz, who hauled three TD catches in the first meeting with Dallas, could merit special attention from the Cowboys’ defense. This could be especially true if Nicks is limited or out with a groin injury that kept him out of practice on Wednesday.
Randle, who leads the Giants in TD catches (six), could be one of the keys to the game. He has the speed and athleticism to give the Cowboys’ secondary fits. The Giants should give him a few downfield shots on Sunday.
Manning comes into Sunday’s game off one of his better performances of the season. He completed 25-of-35 passes for 279 yards with one touchdown and one interception in the Week 11 victory against Green Bay.
Manning has been panned for his turnovers this season, and it’s obvious he needs to take care of the ball. That said, he still must connect on field-stretching plays when they present themselves.
And a handful of them probably will become available to make on Sunday, given how the Cowboys’ defense has played.