Last weekend's 'Five things to watch' for the New York Giants turned out to be five miserable Eli Manning interceptions, turning a game they should won against the San Francisco 49ers into a fifth straight defeat. Here is a look at this week's 'Five things to watch' Sunday night vs. the Dallas Cowboys.
'Good Eli' vs. 'Bad Eli'
For Manning, there is always that internal competition between good and evil. The 'Good Eli' has been winning this year, but we know that the 'Bad Eli' still exists and he proved last week that he can be an incredibly angry evil twin when he doesn't get to come out and play very often.
There is no quarterback in the league, or in recent memory, quite like Manning. When the 'Good Eli' shows up he is still as good, and as dangerous to the opposition, as any quarterback in the business. When the 'Bad Eli' shows up Manning is still dangerous -- only to his own team.
Can Manning take the 'Bad Eli' and shove him back into the closet, deep into the closet, Sunday and for the rest of the season? The Giants have no chance if he can't.
The Giants' Offensive Line
Who will play? Where will they play? Pretty amazing that these questions are being asked in Week 12 of the regular season rather than the beginning of training camp. That, however, is where the Giants are with an injured, ineffective line.
Justin Pugh appears unlikely to play. The likely candidate to fill that spot is Geoff Schwartz, returning from short-term IR. Unless James Brewer or someone else plays there and Schwartz moves inside. Jordan Ranaan of NJ.com has reported that Schwartz will play right tackle and the rookie left guard Weston Richburg will be benched in favor of veteran Adam Snyder, who has barely played at all this season.
Then again, others have indicated that Snyder might play right guard in place of John Jerry. It seems likely that Snyder at left guard and Schwartz at right tackle will be the alignment, but the Giants haven't committed to anything yet. So, stay tuned. Maybe we'll all find out for sure together.
Dez vs. DRC
This is on my list simply because it should be fun to watch. The first time the two teams played Rodgers-Cromartie was hobbling around due to back and hamstring injuries, and played only 15 snaps. Prince Amukamara covered Bryant and, despite a valiant effort, the Cowboys star still caught nine passes for 151 yards. Rodgers-Cromartie may not be 100 percent yet, but he is as healthy as he has been in several weeks.
Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said this week that the Giants "never know" when DRC might stiffen up and need to come out of a game for a period of time. Fewell added that "Obviously he is feeling better. Before he just couldn't practice."
The Beckham Bonanza
How many ways can the Giants find to get Beckham involved? They have used him outside as a receiver. They have used him in the slot. They have lined him up in the backfield and sent him on pass routes. They have given him the ball on reverses. Beckham has been used as a punt returner. The Giants even tried to sneak him into kickoff return a week ago. What will they try next?
The other question is, how will the Cowboys defend Beckham? It hasn't taken the league long to figure that, after six games, he is already a star. The chess match will be fun to watch.
Can The Defense Do It Again?
The Giants defense has been awful most of the season, it's ranking of 31st in the league well-deserved. After four straight games giving up no less than 423 total yards. Fewell's group played better last Sunday vs. the 49ers. Can they do it again, or was the game against San Francisco just a temporary respite from the horrible, undisciplined defense the Giants have displayed most of the season?