Whenever the New York Giants face the Dallas Cowboys, there’s always at least a little intrigue to the matchup regardless of records and standings. That these two longtime rivals are battling for the NFC East crown and, perhaps, the top seed in the conference makes game at MetLife Stadium a truly can’t-miss Sunday night matchup.
When last these two met in Week 1, the Giants (8-4) edged their rivals at AT&T Stadium, 20-19. The Cowboys (11-1) haven’t lost since.
With the chance to sew up a division title, the Giants know Dallas won’t be complacent. Here are three keys for Big Blue to end the Cowboys’ 11-game win streak.
Wrangle the ‘rookies’
Quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott are first-year players, but they sure don’t play like rookies.
Prescott ranks third in the NFL in passer rating and boasts a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 19-2. Elliott leads the NFL in rushing by 242 yards, averaging 107.1 per game and scoring 12 TDs on the ground.
Both are protected by one of the league’s finest offensive lines, so keeping them in check won’t be easy. More than ever, Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon must create havoc in the backfield and ruin drives before the young stars find a rhythm.
Filling the void
Jason Pierre-Paul underwent surgery for a sports hernia this week, so he’ll be out for several weeks. That, of course, includes Sunday’s rivalry game.
With 5.5 sacks over his last three games, JPP’s loss is going to sting. No one player is going to replace what the former All-Pro brings to the field, but the Giants can’t afford a subpar performance opposite Vernon.
Dialing up more situations for standout safety Landon Collins (3.0 sacks) to rush Prescott could be a way to compensate for the loss of Pierre-Paul.
Keep ’em guessing
The Giants’ greatest asset in their September win in Dallas was a sharp, balanced attack.
Quarterback Eli Manning completed 19 of 28 passes (67.9%) for 207 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, and running backs Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen combined for 113 yards on 24 carries. That was the first of just three games this season in which Manning completed at least 60% of his passes and the team ran for at least 100 yards.
Vereen, a receiving threat and change of pace back, has been out since Week 3 but could return Sunday. If so, the G-Men are all the more versatile.