Passing Attack: Tony Romo got back on track against Oakland. Oakland does have a tough pass defense despite being a poor overall team, so Romo’s performance was impressive (even though I hate to admit it…just keeping it real). When the passing offense is clicking this is a unit that can move the ball quickly. Romo has one of the quickest releases in the NFL and his mobility allows him to buy some time and make plays down field where Miles Austin and Jason Witten’s size and speed combinations make them extremely difficult matchups. Roy Williams of course has first round talent, but just does not seem able to put it all together and has quickly fell down the ranks of the Cowboys pass game pecking order. I bet Jerry Jones is pissed that he gave up all those draft picks on a BUST. The Lions are still laughing.
The injury depleted Giants secondary got a major piece back with the return of Aaron Ross but the results just weren’t there against Atlanta and Denver the last two weeks. Whether it’s because of the departure of Steve Spagnola or just because they’ve been banged up a little, the D-line just isn’t putting as much pressure on opposing QBs as they used to, allowing teams to take advantage of the banged up secondary. Statistically the Giants still rank 4th in pass defense from a yardage allowed perspective (185.0 ypg), so they appear to be a sound pass defense but the 18 passing TDs they have allowed speaks otherwise. I can’t wait until Donovan McNabb gets to torch them.
Running Attack: The Dallas running game was also able to get back on track on Thanksgiving Day, but the Raiders run defense is as piss-poor as their overall team. Felix Jones had his most explosive game since returning from his knee injury and could be ready for a very nice stretch run...if he doesn’t get injured. Marion Barber also had a big day and should be healed up from his earlier quadriceps pull. This could be one scary offense in December (if Romo doesn’t go back to his ways of old).
New York is ranked 11th in the league in run defense, allowing 107.8 ypg. However, just as their pass defense looks deceivingly good when only looking at the yards allowed, the team has allowed 15 rushing TDs, so it hasn’t been all that effective either. Marion Barber had his best game of the season against the Giants in Week 2 and now that Antonio Pierce has been lost for the season there isn’t much hope that they will shut him down this time either.
Looking into my crystal ball:
Tony Romo: 275 yds passing 2 TDs, 1 Int. / 20 yds rushing
On to the GMen:
Passing Attack: Eli Manning’s performance generally “fades” when the December winds blow into dirty Jersey, and this year he may have a built in excuse. His foot that has been hampered by plantar fasciitis is now further burdened by a potential stress fracture. This offseason all the talk was the inexperience at the wide out position, but Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks bring hope for an explosive duo at the wide receiver position going forward, and Steve Smith continues to be rock solid; the guy is a catching machine. This unit did very well in Dallas against the Cowboys and will need to do so once again if the Giant season is to be saved.
Dallas is allowing 224.9 ypg and has given up 15 passing TDs in 11 games so it’s been a vulnerable unit. Like the Giants, the Cowboys have been hit by injuries in the secondary and the team has not generated as consistent a pass rush as it did last season. This pass defense may be the Achilles heel to the Cowboys Super Bowl hopes if they end up facing Brett Favre or Drew Brees in January.
Running Attack: The Giants could be hurting at RB this week. Ahmad Bradshaw missed last week’s game in Denver with an ankle injury and his availability for this week’s game is not a certainty. Danny Ware who was being worked in as a 3rd down back and took Bradshaw’s reps last week was knocked out of that game with a concussion and will miss this week’s game. Brandon Jacobs has not been as effective this season as the last couple of seasons and no one really seems to know the reason why. Maybe his body is finally feeling the beatings that he took over the last few years. Jacobs seems to genuinely dislike the Cowboys (can you blame him?) so he should be fired up for this game and see almost every carry, but will he run with the power he’s shown in the past?
Dallas has been playing the run very well this season, allowing 102.7 ypg, and only 4 rushing TDs so it will not get any easier for Jacobs this week to turn his season back around.
Looking into my crystal ball:
Eli Manning: 295 yds passing, 3 TDs, 1 Int.
And the verdict is….Cowboys 20 Giants 27
If you think I’m wrong, you need your head examined, but let’s hear your argument…bring the noise.