By Zach Walker
New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys
Sunday – October 19 – 3:25 pm
AT&T Stadium – Arlington
Who do the Cowboys need to shut down?
TE Larry Donnell – Teams love these “home-grown” players, guys that they picked up as a rookie free agent, that shape themselves into a starter. Donnell spent time behind Martellus Bennett and Brandon Myers and now the job is his. Weeks ago, Donnell had a seven catch night against the Redskins, and scored three touchdowns. Since that game, he has had only one catch, for six yards. But, the Giants lost Victor Cruz, and his targets are going to have to be spread around, and Donnell is a big target that Eli Manning now has no choice but to look his way.
Who on the Cowboys, needs to step up?
CB Sterling Moore – It seems kind of strange to mention, Sterling Moore and needing to step, because he’s played some ball this season. When Claiborne was demoted, Moore moved up, and when Claiborne went down for the season, it’s been Moore who has had to pick up the slack. Sterling Moore is going to be, likely, covering Preston Parker or Jerrel Jernigan, and Sterling Moore has responded to every challenge thrown his way, so far this season.
Which group will give the Cowboys fits?
The Giants’ Wide Receivers – With Victor Cruz going down, the Giants are going to look to get their money’s worth out of first round pick, Odell Beckham. He’s a speedster, and he’s just starting to return from an injury that sidelined him for most of training camp and all of September’s games. Another LSU problem for the Cowboys will be Rueben Randle, who has the most receptions and targets on the team. Not to say, that this is the most dangerous group of receivers that the Cowboys have faced this season, because it isn’t, but in these NFC East games, anything goes.
Which group will give the Giants fits?
The Cowboys’ defensive line – Last week, in this segment, I didn’t have the guts to put the defensive line down as the group to terrorize the field and now I’m looking like I’m jumping on. Within this defense, they have seven sacks in six games, and that isn’t great. I’ve come to realize that with this group of linemen it’s about the thrill in the hunt, not the kill. This group made Russell Wilson move where THEY wanted, didn’t give him the bail-out lanes he needed to be successful. All in the past now. Eli Manning is nowhere near the running threat that Wilson is and the Giants offensive line is still in building. They drafted Justin Pugh in the first round, last season, and this year, they drafted Weston Richburg to play along the line and so far through six games, the Giants have gotten Eli sacked 13 times, and he’s basically on pace to be sacked twice a game, all season long. But with a stand-up pocket operator, like Eli, it’s about pressuring him into shuffling his feet and getting himself into bad third down situations. I have a feeling that this group of defensive linemen: Crawford, Melton, Spencer, Selvie, Mincey, and Wilber, are very close to boiling over and start to rake quarterback sacks.
What will it take for the Cowboys to win?
Focus. This is a classic Dallas Cowboys trap game, and not like it matters to the players, but people are waiting for the back down to Earth moment for these Cowboys. If the coaches can keep the players focused on their roles, and I feel that Garrett’s firsthand experience with him being there for the big wins back in the day, will really shine through and keep this team focused on the small picture.
Prediction: New York Giants 17 – Dallas 31: Eli Manning loves to play in AT&T Stadium, and he’ll get his “throw up a 33-33-34 ball” (33% chance of the interception; 33% chance of Catch; and 34% chance of pass interference). And I question if the Giants have the linebackers to stop DeMarco Murray at the second level on a consistent basis. But I think more spread carries for Randle and Dunbar are going to happen in this game.