Analysis: Eli Manning signed his name on the new Cowboys stadium in the visitors locker room a few years back after he won the first game ever in Jerry World. Since then, he has not been beaten by the Cowboys in their $1.2 billion play pen, as some have called it. Manning also happened to win the last game at the old Cowboys stadium in the 2007 divisional round of the playoffs. His recent success down in Dallas makes it all the more puzzling why Jerry Jones told fans to come down to the stadium to watch the Cowboys kick the Giants rear ends this year.
The Giants (5-2) have a chance to really seperate themselves from the rest of the division with a win on Sunday, while the Cowboys (3-3) can not afford to go under .500 with the brutal schedule that awaits them in the second half of the season. Without DeMarco Murray, and a game time decision in Felix Jones, the Cowboys are in serious trouble at running back. This will only put more pressure on Tony Romo and the passing game, something that is up and down more than the stock market these days. This will give the Giants pass rush, which has come alive in the last few weeks, many chances to get to Romo and make him force the issue. Jason Garrett has been scrutanized in recent weeks for his less than aggressive play calling and the way he has settled for yards and points instead of going for it. If he does the same this week against Manning and the Giants, he can expect more of that scrutiny this week. He must allow Romo to open it up with Dez Bryant and Miles Austin and allow him to go to Jason Witten when he wants instead of finding his check down back. On defense, the Giants finally have a rejuvinated Chris Canty back after six weeks on the PUP list and Perry Fewell has them understanding what team defense is all about. Their secondary can be exploited at times, but as a whole they are gang tackling and filling running lanes.
On offense, the Giants have looked like the most balanced team in the league. Their ability to run tp set up the pass worked last year, but this year their running game does more than that. Ahmad Bradshaw, Andre Brown and David Wilson have all had serious impacts on games this year and their run blocking has been very kind to Manning. If the Cowboys allow Manning to sit back in the pocket and throw the ball, they have no chance to win this game. Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Domenik Hixon and Martelles Bennett are too much for the Cowboys secondary to handle. Rob Ryan's defense did a good job in Week 1 against the Giants, but this is a new Giants team. One with a healthy Nicks and a running game that has found years to its life. Without Sean Lee on defense, and a unhealthy DeMarcus Ware, Ryan will hold his breathe each and every time Manning drops back to pass. Claiborne is one of the better rookie corners the league has seen in recent years, but he will get a whole new dose of Nicks this week than he did in Week 1. He must play his game and not worry about what Nicks, or the other Giants receivers are doing. If he gets caught up in the hype, the Dallas secondary won't play how Rob Ryan expects it to. The Giants have done a good job keeping Manning on his feet, and they will have another test this Sunday when Ratliff, Ware and the rest of Ryan's defense steps on the field. They can get to the quarterback as good as any team in the league and keeping Eli on his feet will be the difference.
Prediction: The Giants know what is at stake in this game and anything less than a complete performance would surprise me. Their schedule in the second half of the season is as tough as it gets in the NFL and a 6-2 start would allow them to play more freely than in recent years. Manning will outplay Romo in this one, and the Giants will have their way on offense and will be able to slow down Dez and Miles and make Jerry Jones cringe for 60 minutes.
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