DALLAS vs. NEW YORK
Kickoff: 3:25 p.m., MetLife Stadium
TV: 3:25 p.m., FOX
Radio: Noon, 105.3 The Fan
Records: Dallas 5-5, New York 4-6
Series: Dallas leads, 58-43-2
Last meeting: Dallas, 36-31 (2013, in Dallas)
Betting line: New York -2.5
Weather: 46 degrees, 20% chance of rain
When we last left the Cowboys, they were embarrassed in New Orleans as the Saints won 49-17. The passing game was non-existent and the defense allowed 625 yards. What has happened since? Well, Jason Hatcher and DeMarcus Ware are back healthy, but the defense has lost Sean Lee for the next few weeks. The Cowboys are looking to right the ship, but it will be difficult against one of the hottest teams in the NFL. Let’s see how these two teams match up:
Dallas offense vs. New York defense
The one bright spot for the Dallas offense in the Saints matchup was DeMarco Murray’s ability to bounce back from injury and have a solid game. Murray ran for 89 yards on 16 carries, and also had a touchdown.
Dallas is facing another stout defense as the Giants rank 15th against the pass and seventh against the run. In their last game, Green Bay’s Quarterback Scott Tolzien threw for 339 yards, but was picked off three times. The Giants defense also held Running Back Eddie Lacy to a season-low 1.9 yards per carry.
In Romo’s first five games of the season, he didn’t have a single game where he completed less than 69% of his passes. Since then, only on one occasion (Minnesota game, 66.7%), has Romo had a completion percentage higher than 60%.
At this point in the season, with Dallas on the road, my confidence is not high in this offense, which should be the strength of this team.
Edge: NEW YORK
Dallas defense vs. New York offense
One step forward, two steps back for the Dallas defense. As the defensive line becomes healthy, the linebacker corps is in shambles. With Lee and Justin Durant down with hamstring injuries, it will be up to Ernie Sims to handle the middle linebacker spot.
The Cowboys are going up against a Giants team that struggles to develop a running game (29th) and is only 15th in the league in passing offense. One thing the Dallas defense does well is create turnovers as the Cowboys are tied with Seattle for the NFC lead in turnover margin (+11). The Giants’ Eli Manning happens to lead the NFL in completing passes to the other team with 17.
Despite the injuries on the defensive side of the ball, I believe the Cowboys will have an opportunity to create turnovers to put the offense in a successful situation.
DeMarco Murray vs. New York front seven: In their previous matchup, Murray had 28 touches for 125 yards in the 36-31 win. His 20 carries were the second most this season only behind the Rams’ game (26 carries for 175 yards). With a healthy Murray and adequate running game, the pressure on Romo and the defense drops significantly. Note: Only Carolina’s DeAngelo Willams has hit the century mark in rushing yards against the Giants this season (23 carries, 120 yards).
Edge: NEW YORK
Dan Bailey has hit eight consecutive field goals including two 50-plus-yard field goals against Detroit on Oct. 27. As I point out week in and week out in this section, Dwayne Harris is one of the best returners in the league.
Both Michael Cox and Jerrel Jernigan are handling kick return duties for the Giants with David Wilson on the shelf with injury. Neither of them is averaging more than 23 yards per return and punt returner Rueben Randle is only averaging 8.2 yards per return.
Veteran Kicker Josh Brown has only missed two of 17 field goals this season.
The Giants are winners of four straight and are playing at home where they are 3-2 on the season. In their four wins, New York is averaging only 11.75 points allowed per game. The Cowboys know they need to win this game to keep pace with Philadelphia in the NFC East division race. A win for the ‘Boys would push their division record to 4-0.
Edge: NEW YORK
Did You Know?
Tony Romo has thrown 29 career touchdown passes against the New York Giants, which is the most in his career against any opponent. In his 15 career starts against New York, the Cowboys have won seven times including last season’s opener in MetLife Stadium, 24-17.
The More You Know…
Prediction: Dallas 27, New York 24
Eddie Middlebrook is the co-host of “Chin Music” and VP of Media for ShutDowninning. He can be reached at Eddie.Middlebrook@ShutDowninning.com or on Twitter @emiddlebrook