The Cowboys Face a Giant(s) Hurdle Again


The Cowboys continue to straddle the line of mediocrity, but the tipping point is imminent.  Do they begin to fulfill their potential, or do they take the tailspin to a top-15 pick in the 2013 draft?  The next 3 games (Giants, Falcons, Eagles) could very easily see this team at 3-6 if they don’t get their act together.  They have a few pretty significant challenges to overcome.

Oct 21, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) reacts to the winning touchdown against the Washington Redskins at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via US PRESSWIRE

Sean Lee is gone, gone, gone.

One could make a legitimate argument that Sean Lee is the most important defender on the Cowboys team.  He led the team in tackles last year and was on pace to do the same this year before his toe injury on Sunday.  The Dallas Cowboys have put Lee on IR, so he is done for the season.  The nicest thing I can say is, “this is going to be interesting.”

Ernie Sims   

The Cowboys signed Ernie Sims to help bolster their LB depth in the wake of the Sean Lee injury.  Sims was the 9th overall pick in the 2006 draft and had an excellent start to his career, accumulating 125 tackles as a rookie for the Lions.   In 2009, Sims had a grade 2 tear of his hamstring causing him to miss 5 games.  I don’t have a lot of in depth information on him, but that seems to be his line of demarcation as far as his career is concerned.  The word on him is that he is a fast, undersized LB best suited as the Will in the 4-3.  I wonder if his signing means that we will see a lot more 4-3 sets as the Cowboys begin Life After Lee.  To see what the Lions thought of him early in his career, here is a Scouting Report from 2008.

Keys To Winning Against the Giants

  • Establish the run.  In their previous matchup, the Cowboys were able to run for 143 yards.  The problem is that 131 of those rushing yards came from the now injured, Demarco Murray.  With the Giants’ potent pass rush, it’s imperative to keep their front 7 honest by making them respect the run.  Felix performed well against the Ravens, but was hurt and less than overwhelming against the Panthers.  We might very well see a healthy dose of Tanner this week.
  • Exploit the weak New York secondary.  The Giants’ defensive secondary has gotten healthier and thusly better since the Cowboys first played them, but this is still a unit that can be exploited.  While the Giants haven’t given up a 300 yard passing day to any team this year, they have given up 228 or more in every game this season, even against generally weak passing teams.  The Cowboys will probably have to score upwards of 30 points to win this game. 
  • Make the Giants kick Field Goals.  The Giants are going to score, as they’ve proven all season.  They’ve only been held under 20 points twice this season (17 points against both the Cowboys and Eagles), and have topped 40 points twice.  Preventing the big play (Victor Cruz, I’m looking at you) and holding them to 3 points in the Red Zone is going to be huge.  I don’t think the Cowboys are going to hold them to under 20 points again, but they have to keep it as close as they possibly can.
  • Overcome their injuries.  DeMarco Murray is out.  Felix and Tanner need to show up.  Costa is out again.  Can Ryan Cook save the day again?  Sean Lee is done for the year.  How on earth are they going to compensate for his loss?  They signed Ernie Sims, who has been a decent player in the league for the past 6 years, but he is not in the same league as Sean Lee.  There has been some speculation that we might see more 4-3 looks.  Whatever the case, Rob Ryan has his work cut out for him.

Giants Season

  • After losing to the Cowboys, The Giants have gone 5-1, losing only to NFC East division rival Philadelphia Eagles.
  • The Giants offense has been absolutely prolific, scoring less than 20 points only twice — against the Eagles and Cowboys, each time with 17.  They have scored over 40 twice (Buccaneers, Browns), over 30 three times (Bucs, Panthers, Browns), and over 20 in four of their 6 games.
  • The Giants’ defense, while far from elite, is 9th in points allowed and has not given up a 300 yard passing game this season.
  • They rank 21st or worse in every yards allowed category, but are still in the top 10 in points against.

Comparison of Shared Opponents

  • The Cowboys and Giants have 2 shared opponents this season (Bucs and Panthers), and have each gone 2-0 in those games.
  • There is a clear and direct analysis to their shared opponents – The Giants offense is clearly superior and the Cowboys defense is marginally better than that of the Giants.
  • Despite winning both games, the Cowboys only scored an average of 17.5 points on 304.5 total yards against these opponents, while the Giants averaged 38.5 on 504.5.
  • While the Cowboys defense performed clearly better on average (12 pts/247 yards vs. 20.5 pts/317 yards), the majority of this difference comes from the dominance the Cowboys defense exhibited over Tampa Bay.  Against Carolina, the Giants defense slightly outperformed the Cowboys.

Giants Vs. Cowboys 2012 Season

  • The only real statistic that matters is (3-3) and (5-2) – The Cowboys and Giants respective records.
  • The second most important  — The Giants score more points (30.3 vs. 18.8) and have fewer points scored against them (18.6 vs. 18.8).  That is
  • The Giants defense ranks 21st or lower in yardage stats, but 9th in points allowed.  The Cowboys, despite being 4th in total yards allowed, are 14th in points allowed.  The Giants are a bend, but no break defense.  The Cowboys defensive points allowed are tainted by an ineffective offense and 2 pick-6’s against the Bears.
  • I’m not going to go into deep analysis of their two offenses.  Giants =  good, Cowboys = bad.

While the Cowboys were able to win their last matchup with the Giants on the road, they will be facing a healthier and reinvigorated Giants team this time around.  Eli Manning is 3-0 at Cowboys Stadium, and has led their offense to pretty incredible production lately.  This time around, I don’t think the Cowboys will be able to keep up with the scoring, but should be able to keep it competitive.

Cowboys 24, Giants 31