Tonight, the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys will play on Monday Night Football 10th time. The Cowboys hold a 7-2 edge in those games.
The Cowboys enter this game with a disappointing 1-4 record. For the Cowboys, a Super Bowl favorite during the preseason, this is a huge game. Dallas can make a turn around with a win, or take a major hit to their playoff hopes with a loss.
It would be fair for you to look at a team with a 1-4 record and call them bad. However, this Cowboys team is one of the most talented in the league. The New York Giants can not afford to take them lightly.
The Cowboys are third in the NFL in total offense and fourth in defense. Normally you would think a team with those numbers would have a winning record and be on their way to a solid season. So, what is holding back the Cowboys?
Mistakes. Penalties. Turnovers.
Dallas has committed 49 penalties already this season. They are also 30th out of 32 teams in turnover margin. Penalties will hurt you. Turning the ball over will hurt you even more.
With players such as Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Roy Williams, and Jason Witten, the Cowboys can move the ball through the air. The running game with Felix Jones and Marion Barber has struggled but if they can get that going, the Cowboys offense is lethal.
The defense is a very solid group led by linebackers DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer. They also have a very good front three. Yes, the Cowboys run a 3-4 defense, the first the Giants will see this season.
The Giants will look to force turnovers and put Dallas in situations in which they are prone to penalties. The biggest area of concern for the Cowboys is the offensive line.
New York can use it’s very impressive defensive front to put pressure on the Dallas offensive line that has been a patch work group all season. Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora can make those guys committ penalties and make mistakes.
Defensive tackle Chris Canty has the type of skills to do damage against this Cowboys offensive line as well.
If the Giants secondary can stick to the recievers, the front seven can do different things to put a lot of pressure on Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. Pressuring Romo is key to forcing turnovers.
Offensively, the Giants will try to continue their success on the ground. The duo of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs has been a force this season. Both backs are averaging over four yards per carry.
With a successful running game, if the Giants offensive line can give Eli Manning time to throw, the Giants can put up points against Dallas.
You never know what you are going to get in a Giants/Cowboys game, especially on Monday Night Football.
One thing is for sure, this Cowboys team is better than their record indicates. The Giants need to stay focused and play their game.