Here are my thoughts on the key things to watch tonight when our 4-2 New York Giants invade Dallas to take on the 1-4 Cowboys. The Monday Night Football matchup is the Giants' first NFC East game of the season.
1. The Turnover Battle: Last week's victory over the Detroit Lions was the first 'clean' game the Giants have played. Punter Matt Dodge caused a turnover by dropping a snap, but Eli Manning's offense did not have any turnovers. Still, the Giants are -2 in turnovers/takeaways this season and the thus-far mistake-prone Cowboys are -5. My guess is both teams think they can squeeze some mistakes out of the opposing offense. Which one will be right?
2. How will the Giants handle DeMarcus Ware?: We have discussed ad nauseum how poorly David Diehl has played this season (only two starting tackles are graded lower by Pro Football Focus), and we know the Giants can't leave Diehl to handle Ware all by himself. Will we see Shawn Andrews as a second tight end to help Diehl in passing situations? Kevin Boss assigned to chip Ware before running his pass routes? A running back? Most likely a combination of all of those approaches.
3. Dallas receivers vs. the Giants secondary. The Cowboys have a trio of talented wideouts with Miles, Austin Roy Williams and Dez Bryant, and a Pro Bowl tight end in Jason Witten. It will be interesting to see how the Giants match up, especially with Witten. The three-safety package, probably using Deon Grant to cover Witten, might get tested here.
4. Can the Giants pass rush get to Tony Romo?: The Dallas quarterback is a slippery one in the pocket, and he always seems to make big plays moving around. The Giants' defense, as we know, is predicated on their pass rush, and through six games they were tied for second in the league with 21 sacks. Romo has only been sacked seven times this season, so this promises to be a key matchup. If the Giants can't get to Romo they will have a tough time dealing with all the weapons the Cowboy quarterback has at his disposal.
5. Matt Dodge vs. the football: Can he catch it? Can he kick it where he wants to go? Or, can he at least kick it someplace that works out well for the Giants? Every snap with the rookie punter is an adventure. Best news for the Giants would be if no one is talking about Dodge when the game is over.
Other reading material
- Giants at Cowboys Sports Network overview
- When the Giants have the ball
- When the Cowboys have the ball
- Giants at Cowboys Fantasy Football Focus
- Cowboys say they have been unlucky