New York Giants expert Andrew Ilnicki of GMEN HQ was kind enough to take some time earlier today and answer a few questions focusing on tonight’s game. Here is what he had to say about the match up.
The Cowboys have had an awful start to 2010. There is no denying the team’s talent, but they haven’t put up the results some had hoped. From an outside perspective, what do you see as the Cowboys problem?
Well being a Yankees fan as I know what it’s like to have a talented roster and never see your team produce results. But the term mistakes seems to encompass it for me. Penalties, lack of discipline, lack of execution when it matters most, unfortunate circumstances and plain bad luck like 5 tipped balls going for interceptions — just like what happened with the Giants at the beginning of the year. In that sense, I empathize with the Cowboys and their treatment in the media, players and coaches alike.
However, the Giants showed they could respond and so far have silenced their critics in basically every facet where they needed to. That’s why I think they are the better team heading into tonight’s game, have more momentum, and have a shot to win.
With the 1-4 record, do you think the Giants or fans are taking the Cowboys lightly?
No. Not a chance. Now I would love for the Giants to be playing so good that they could take the Cowboys lightly… but it won’t happen. Not for me, not for fans and certainly not for the team. If the Giants can’t get up for a division game with the Cowboys, a rivalry with that much history… particularly now that the Giants are in position to take over sole possesion of the Beast, if they can’t show up tonight then what can they show up for? If they mail it in tonight I’ll be bitterly disappointed to say the least.
What has been the Giants key to success this season and how can they continue that against Dallas?
Balancing their attack on offense, shutting things down on defense. The Giants have stayed dynamic on both sides of the ball, the offensive line is coming back into form with their run blocking and Ahmad Bradshaw has injected some life into the running game this year. Jacobs is just in there to keep the door battered down. That has allowed Eli and his receivers to spread the defense out as well, and even on 3rd and short Eli has been committing to the deep ball and taking 1-1 coverages. Their conversions have suffered but it’s been clear that the Giants offense is going to test you in many different ways — they aren’ the same team as 2 or 3 years ago. I think they’re much better in fact… I watched old film all offseason and Eli has matured this offense into a really dynamic machine once it gets rolling.
Defensively, Perry Fewell has been a tremendous coordinator preparing his team and getting his players in position to succeed on defense. Against the run, against the pass, creating turnovers, pass rush, collapsing the pocket — in every facet the Giants defense has been pretty dominant the last few games. They are on a roll and I hope they can continue it tonight.
What will the Cowboys have to do to ear the win tonight?
I think short passes and running are the way to go to avoid the pass rush — and over the middle and underneath stuff seems to get the Giants number every time. Then the occasional big gash when they get frustrated. The Colts did it perfectly, granted the personnel packages were playing the pass and Manning constantly relied on the run… but they played with what the defense gave them and that’s really what you have to do. The chess match will be something to watch tonight for sure, because in terms of execution the Giants defense is back.
Who is the Giants defense focusing on to? Who from Dallas do you think will have a big game?
Witten always does. Good TE’s are so hard to account for. Linebackers certainly need to be aware, but I think the importance of stopping Felix Jones is going to be equally as paramount. Getting the Giants into a nickle and then running on them was the key for the Cowboys last year the first game, then dumping it to Witten to compliment — it was tactically a great showing. Now, add Roy Williams, Dez Bryant, Miles Austin — you’ve got some fire power that is really going to spread it thin for the Giants defense. If they go with a 3-safety look with Rolle, Phillips, and Grant on the field all at the same time and then Goff and Bulluck in the middle, I’m pretty sure it’s all they can handle against your offense.
What is your prediction for the game?
I think it’s 30-27 Giants win in a last second field goal of a great back and forth game. Good luck tonight!