Six games left in the Dallas Cowboys season. All six are crucial, especially those like this Sunday’s matchup with the New York Giants. Divisional game. Road game. An opportunity to get back into a tie for first place. An opportunity to wash away the stink of the last time this team took the field. You name the angle, the importance is evident. Speaking of opportunity, let’s take this one to discuss three things the Cowboys have going for them heading into the game and three things this team and it’s fans should be concerned about.
1. Help is on the way. While Sean Lee won’t be available which is a huge blow, Dallas should have three and a half starters back on the defensive side of the ball. Jason Hatcher, Morris Claiborne and J.J. Wilcox all missed the latest debacle against the Saints. The Cowboys should also be able to expect a healthier DeMarcus Ware who played two Sundays ago at probably no better than 75%. The defense should also get a good look at rookie linebacker DeVonte Holloman who had a very productive preseason but has been limited for almost half of the year with a neck injury. Offensively, Miles Austin should be making a comeback which will hopefully open things up for Dez Bryant on the outside.
2. Giant jokes. Have you seen the competition the Giants have faced the last four weeks? Josh Freeman in his first game coming from Tampa Bay to Minnesota. The Eagles with a hobbled Michael Vick who was replaced after playing only a quarter or so by rookie Matt Barkley. Terrelle Pryor, who is pretty much Tim Tebow and some dude named Scott Tolzien. Freeman and Pryor account for two of the four worst passer ratings for quarterbacks who have enough attempts to qualify. Barkley has seven turnovers in what does not even equal out to a full game’s worth of quarters played and Tolzien has five in two games. Three of those four games have been at home. I think it’s safe to say that Dallas and Tony Romo represent the stiffest test the Giants have had to face since the last game they lost against Chicago over a month ago.
3. The running game showed life. Lost in the horror show that was the Saints loss was that Dallas was able to get the running game to at least look somewhat alive. DeMarco Murray put up 89 yards and a touchdown, easily his best production of the year, the Rams game excluded. Dallas showed somewhat of a committment to the run, as eleven of Murray’s sixteen carries came before the Saints got up 21-10. No one is expecting this team to be consistent with their rushing attack or even be super productive but some sort of possible threat may be enough to take some heat off the passing game. That could, in turn, open things up for the offense to reach its potential of being a huge problem for the rest of the league.