After last week’s loss against the Steelers, this Sundays game against the Cowboys at Met life, has lost some of its luster. The Giants were supposed to show all the doubters that they were a legitimate 8-3 team. Instead, they only confirmed that they have many flaws. But what remains is the fact that The Giants (8-4) and Dallas Cowboys (11-1) rivalry is still one of the most intense in NFL history. The stakes are still high for both teams, Dallas clinches the NFC East with a win, and the Giants keep their playoff hopes alive with a victory over the boys.
Of course, since nothing ever happens easily for the Giants, they will be without one of their best players as the difficulty and stakes ramp up. As everyone probably knows by now, starting defensive end and stalwart Jason Pierre-Paul is out for (at least) six weeks after surgery to repair the injury suffered against the Steelers. The Giants already faced a stiff defensive test against the Cowboys, but can they possibly overcome the loss of JPP? The rival Cowboys aren’t the same team that the Giants defeated in the season opener. At the same time, the Giants aren’t the same either. Especially without JPP.
Do the Giants even have a chance Sunday night?? From the holding penalty by left tackle Ereck Flowers in the end zone for a safety to Eli Manning’s interception in the red zone, the Giants didn’t do themselves any favors last week in losing their first game since Oct. 9. When a team is struggling to move the ball – the Giants have fallen to 26th in total yards per game (327.4) – it makes overcoming the setbacks even more difficult. The Cowboys may not force a lot of turnovers with just 11 takeaways on the season, but they also don’t beat themselves with only nine giveaways. The Giants Must play mistake free, that means no stupid personal foul calls and especially offsides from interior linemen. There is no excuse for that. Eli must get time to throw - otherwise, the misfires and interceptions will continue. He must spread his targets around and of course the receivers must catch the ball for positive yards. Odell must shut his mouth, get open and make some plays. I’m not counting on the running game doing anything substantial, but 75 or more on the ground will help if McAdoo can get creative. These straight off tackle and up the middle runs have failed miserably.
As for the aforementioned D, we can only hope they step it up. Vernon must play his best game of the season. Hit the gaps and prevent Elliot from breaking out into the open and everyone needs to make tackles. Elliot has a reputation for making defenses miss. Put pressure on Prescott! Stop those deep completions to Bryant and those 3rd and long completions to the tight ends. If Collins plays his usual great game the tight ends could get shut down, but then the pressure is on the CB’s. Think Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who’s name hasn’t been called much lately. It’s time for Eli Apple to step up and play his best game of the season.
I know that it’s a lot to ask a team who has so many obvious flaws along with injuries. But by the time they play the game on Sunday night, the Giants could be in must-win mode. Washington plays the floundering Eagles at 1 p.m., and Tampa Bay hosts the Saints at 4:15. Lose to the Cowboys and the Giants could enter the final three weeks of the season holding a tenuous one-game lead against a trio of current six-win teams for the final wild-card spot, all three of which — Washington, Minnesota and Green Bay — hold head-to-head advantages over them. Time to step up Big Blue.
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