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Giants vs. Cowboys: Breaking down the special teams

A look at who has the advantage on special teams between the Giants and Cowboys.

Dwayne Harris of the Cowboys is a dangerous return man
Dwayne Harris of the Cowboys is a dangerous return man
Gregory Shamus

The New York Giants' special teams have been a train wreck most of the season.

-- The Giants have allowed three punt return touchdowns of longer than 80 yards. They surrendered a fourth when an errant Zak DeOssie snap sailed over the head of Steve Weatherford.

-- The Giants have surrendered 457 punt return yards, and 18.3 yards per return. Both totals are worst in the league.

-- The Giants' net punting average of 35.7 is 30th overall.

-- The Giants are 31st in the league in covering kickoffs, giving up 26.3 yards per return.

-- The Giants are 29th in the league in kickoff return average, getting only 20.8 yards per return.

-- The Giants are 22nd in the league in punt returns with an average of 7.8 yards per return.

[When the Giants have the ballWhen the Cowboys have the ball]

Sunday, the Giants face a Dallas team that is among the best in the league in the return game. The Cowboys are second in the league with an average of 28.9 yards on kickoff returns, and third in punt returns at 14.3 yards per attempt. The Cowboys primary return man, Dwayne Harris, averages 32.3 yards on kickoffs and 15.1 yards on punts.

"They're a very good special teams. Dwayne Harris continues to get better since he's come into the league and he's really hit his stride with both punt returns and kickoff returns," said Giants' special teams coordinator Tom Quinn. "He's got excellent vision. He can stick his foot in the ground and change direction on you."

The weather is expected to cold and blustery Sunday. Punter Steve Weatherford struggled in the MetLife Stadium winds two weeks ago vs. the Oakland Raiders.

"I hope he learned his lesson. I think he has. He'll be ready. He's just got to deal with it," Quinn said. "He's just got to catch and kick it."

Weatherford said this week that he will be prepared for the conditions.

"When it's super windy like that you just want to hit a good punt and you want to hit something that they can cover. You don't try to, when it's really windy like that, to get too cute and try to hit balls out of bounds," Weatherford said. "I think that's maybe something the last time we played. I was trying to do too much instead of just trying to hit a clean ball."

There were positive signs for the Giants on special teams last week vs. the Green Bay Packers.

Weatherford was brilliant, averaging 53 yards on five punts. Rueben Randle set up a touchdown with a career-long 32-yard punt return. Placekicker Josh Brown went 2-for-2 on field goals and is now 15-for-27 on the season.

Dallas placekicker Dan Bailey is 17-of-19 on the season, and has made 4-of-5 from outside 50 yards.

The Giants have struggled all season to replace David Wilson as the kickoff returner, and last week was no exception. Rookie Michael Cox averaged only 17.5 yards per return.

The way the numbers shape up you would think the Giants would be hoping for a draw on special teams Sunday vs. the Cowboys. The way this season has gone any time the Giants don't get hurt by their kicking or return games that is a plus.

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