In the midst of a five-game losing streak, Eli Manning and the New York Giants will try to end their recent skid against the hard-charging Dallas Cowboys Sunday night at Metlife Stadium.
At 3-7, and the postseason looking increasingly unattainable, the Giants are in danger of equaling their six-game slide to open the 2013 season following Manning’s five-interception performance last week. But Manning was optimistic when speaking with reporters.
“When something goes wrong or you feel close and could have had a win, you’ve got to turn the page and you’ve got to bounce back quickly,” Manning said according to the team’s official site. “You’ve got to be upbeat and be excited about this next opportunity that we have.”
Despite Manning’s troubles, the Giants defense managed to keep the game close throughout. In a 16-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, Perry Fewell's unit kept the Niners No. 8-ranked rushing offense out of the end zone and held mobile quarterback Colin Kaepernick to 24 yards rushing. It was a considerable improvement for a defense that allowed an average of 34 points and 456 yards in the previous four games.
The loss also marked the return of leading rusher Rashad Jennings, who will likely play a critical role in reducing some pressure on Manning. The 29-year-old missed four straight games with a knee injury, and gained 59 yards on 18 attempts. Jennings will lineup against a Cowboys defense that’s No. 13 versus the run, but has allowed nine rushing touchdowns, tied for the fifth-worst mark in the league.
The Giants are also developing a duo of former LSU receivers. Rueben Randle notched the second 100-plus yard game of his career, and rookie Odell Beckham Jr. totaled 93 yards off six receptions.
Still, repeating those efforts against Dallas could prove very difficult for New York. For one, the Cowboys boast the NFL’s leading rusher in running back DeMarco Murray, and the Giants are presently last in the league allowing 145 rushing yards per game. Murray has already gained 1,233 yards through 10 games, nearly 300 yards more than the next closest back.
The Cowboys are also well rested after their late bye week, which also helps ailing quarterback Tony Romo. A back injury has been a problem for Romo all season, but he’s managed to play at a very high level, completing 68.8 percent of his passes for 2,244 yards and 18 touchdowns to six interceptions.
Romo was held out of practice Wednesday, but returned to the field Thursday, a possible sign he’s ready to repeat his three-touchdown performance against the Giants in Week 7. That was also a big game for leading Dallas wide out Dez Bryant, who racked up 151 receiving yards. Bryant has scored a touchdown in all but three games this season, and he recorded a season-high 158 yards and two touchdowns in Week 10’s 31-17 blasting of Jacksonville.
While the Giants are hoping to start a trail back to .500, the 7-3 Cowboys are looking to keep pace with first-place Philadelphia in the NFC East, and possibly move up the playoff standings. Dallas presently owns one of the NFC’s two wild card spots, but after the Giants they’ll play the Eagles twice in the three subsequent games, likely for the division crown.
The two clubs share a long and storied history, with 13 total titles and 13 Super Bowl appearances between them. The Cowboys and Giants first met on Dec. 4, 1960 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. The Cowboys lead the all-time series, 60-43-2, and have won the last three meetings. The games are also quite competitive. The last time a Giants - Cowboys game was decided by more than 10 points was on Jan. 1, 2011, when the Giants won at MetLife Stadium, 31-14.
Betting Odds: Dallas -3.5
Over/Under: 47.5 points
Prediction: Dallas over N.Y., 30-24