Jump to content

Giants @ Cowboys


Recommended Posts

Plenty of storylines in NFC East clash



By Pat Kirwan

NFL.com Senior Analyst





(Oct. 21, 2006) -- It will be hard to top last Monday night when the Cardinals almost beat the Bears in one of the most exciting games this season. It's going to take an old fashion NFC East division rivalry like the Giants at the Cowboys to even have a chance to rival last week's game, but this one has a chance to top it.


There's the constant storyline around Terrell Owens, the announcement that Tiki Barber may retire at the end of the season and this could be his last game in Dallas, and the connection with coach Bill Parcells, who brought the Giants two world championships and now coaches the bitter rival Cowboys. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones can be as big a story as any player, and who knows what Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey will say next? All the soap opera stuff aside, these are two teams that have their sights set on the Super Bowl in February and the loser of this game will feel the repercussions all year long.


The Giants have the No. 2 offense in the NFL and the Cowboys are ranked seventh, so there is plenty of firepower on both sides of the field to put points up on the board. In fact, I could see the lead change in this game five or six times as the 60 minutes of action rolls along.


As for the ability to slow down the scoring, on paper the Cowboys have a better defense. But two weeks ago, the Giants pass rush came alive and they know where Drew Bledsoe will be on every pass play -- right behind the center in the pocket -- and Michael Strahan and company will attack the launch point with everything they have.


The two biggest questions in this game are: 1) Can the Giants defense slow down the Dallas running game, which is ranked third in the league; and 2) Can the Dallas offensive line hold out the Giants rush long enough for Bledsoe to get the ball in the hands of his excellent receivers?




1. Dallas is the No. 2 scoring offense in the red zone with 12 touchdowns and four field goals in 19 trips.

2. The Giants defense is No. 29 in red-zone defense and has given up 12 scores in 12 trips.

3. Dallas is ahead in the turnover battle this season by two.

4. The Dallas offense is ranked third in third-down efficiency and the Giants defense is 30th.

5. Owens caught three touchdown passes last week.

6. In the first quarter of games this season, Eli Manning is completing just 46 percent of his passes.

7. The Giants are last in the NFL in penalty yardage edge (323 to 183 yards).

8. Dallas punter Mat McBriar is No. 1 in the NFC with an average 41.8 yards net, giving an edge in the field-position battle.

9. In the Cowboys two home games this season, Bledsoe hasn't thrown an interception, the defense has allowed a total of 16 points, and they are 2-0.

10. Dallas is 7-1 against the Giants on Monday Night Football.




1. The Giants are 3-1 in their last four games against Dallas.

2. Strahan and Osi Umenyiora had six sacks against Dallas last year.

3. Barber leads the NFL in rushing and has 723 total yards (144 per game).

4. The Giants have all 11 starters back on offense from 2005 when they were the No. 2 offense.

5. The Giants beat the Eagles this season while the Cowboys lost to Philadelphia.

6. The Giants have beaten Atlanta, Philadelphia and Washington, and Dallas has beaten Houston, Tennessee and Washington.

7. In the fourth quarter this season, Manning is 38 for 55 with five TDs, two interceptions and no sacks.

8. The Giants have scored 87 points on the road in three games (29 per game).

9. The Giants are averaging 388 yards per game & Manning has eight TD passes on the road.



The Giants have the best offense the Cowboys have faced this season with the exception of the Eagles, who scored 38 points on Dallas.



Eli Manning struggled in two games against Dallas in 2005, completing 26 of 60 passes with three INTs and one TD.

Since 2002, Barber has rushed for an average of 126 yards in the Giants' four wins over Dallas. In the three losses to Dallas, Barber has rushed for 50 yards per game. It's a pretty simple formula, but the problem lies in the Dallas 3-4 defense, which is No. 1 in the NFL in opposing rushing yardage. It might be a better idea to come out throwing the ball to Shockey (two touchdowns last week) and the wide receivers (Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer ), who already have six touchdown passes between them, and force Cowboys safety Roy Williams out of the box. If you see No. 31 up near the line of scrimmage, the Giants running attack is a bad idea, but the passing game has all kind of opportunities. Whenever the Giants have fullback Jim Finn on the field, the Cowboys will call a run defense and drop Williams down into run support. If Tim Carter comes in for Finn and creates a three-wide receiver package, the Giants match up well against a Dallas defense ranked 21st in yards given up passing.


The other thing New York can do to cause a conflict is to open up the alignment of Shockey and force Williams to align on him, which could get Barber out on a route against a linebacker like Greg Ellis or DeMarcus Ware, a matchup that is in the Giants' favor. Wide running plays against a 3-4 defense like the Cowboys' plays right into the hands of what Dallas wants you to do and coach Tom Coughlin, a longtime assistant to Parcells, knows that is the wrong way to attack the Cowboys.



Dallas will try and establish the inside running game right away against a Giants defense that simply must answer the challenge. Keep your eye on the Giants defensive tackles because if they give up 4 to 5 yards per carry in the first quarter, then the Dallas home-field advantage is there to stay. Giants middle linebacker Antonio Pierce could easily have 15 tackles in this game.


It's no secret that the Cowboys have excellent receiving weapons and the quarterback throws from the midline, which is 5 yards behind the center. The Eagles had a tremendous inside pressure scheme for Bledsoe and the Giants need to do the same. The difference is the best Giant rushers are ends, not tackles. The coaching point to the Giants ends, Strahan and Uymeniora, is don't be afraid to cross the face of the offensive tackle and give up contain to get to Bledsoe, who will never beat the Giants by breaking contain and running. Whenever a defensive end has a 'two way go' on a tackle in his pass rush, he should win. The Cowboys running game should produce close to 100 yards but Bledsoe still averages 31 passes per game and New York needs to make the 14-year veteran make a hasty throw or two and turn it into a turnover.


Owens loves the spotlight of Monday Night Football and has nine touchdowns in his last six Monday night games. The Giants need to play rolled coverage to Owens early and try and frustrate No. 81. Terry Glenn can beat the Giants, but Bledsoe has only gone to Glenn 26 times as compared to 40 times for Owens. My choice to start the game would be to make Bledsoe go to Glenn early, which he will do as he reads coverage, and have Sam Madison play some 'off coverage' to keep the speedy Glenn in front of him. The last thing the Giants want to see is a quick three-step passing game with max protection so Bledsoe feels secure that he has time to find the open receiver and deliver the ball.



These two teams are very close in talent and production. Even though the Giants are 3-1 in their last four meetings, Dallas won at home last year 16-13 and held Barber to 64 yards. If this is Barber's last game in Dallas, I'm sure he will want to go out with a bang. Barber has averaged four receptions a game against the Cowboys the last eight times they have played, but I expect that number to be up closer to eight on Monday night. Manning gets a slow start most weeks but has what it takes to lead a comeback, which he will have to do again in this game.


Dallas just hasn't played enough good teams for me to jump on the Cowboys bandwagon just yet, and the Giants' win in Atlanta against a good Falcons defense leads me to believe New York finds a way to win a close one in Dallas. These two teams have 79 penalties between them (40 for New York and 39 for Dallas) and it could be a bit ugly if 15 -20 flags get thrown, but you know these two head coaches have been harping on the mistakes all week. I have a feeling the Giants listened. The Giants are the defending NFC East champions and a win here gives them a sweep of their first games against division opponents.



Plenty of storylines in NFC East clash

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...