Cowboys – Giants 4 Keys To Watch For

Cowboys QB Tony Romo will be looking for a sweep of the New York Giants on Sunday. (AP Photo)

Cowboys QB Tony Romo will be looking for a sweep of the New York Giants on Sunday. (AP Photo)

The Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants meet for the second time on Sunday with a lot on the line as far as positioning in the NFC East. Game time is scheduled for 4:25 p.m. and will be held in at the Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. The game will be carried by Fox Sports.

The Cowboys (5-5) enter a half game behind the Philadelphia Eagles in the division. Dallas’ defense has been decimated by injuries and has been struggling badly. The Cowboys rank last in the NFL in overall defense and pass defense. They’ve given up 600 yards in two of the past three games and over 500 yards four times in 2013.

It has put a lot of pressure on Tony Romo and the offense that has had to deal with an inconsistent running game and injuries at the skill positions that hasn’t helped. The Cowboys are coming off their bye week and should be much more healthy this week.

The Giants (4-6) seemed dead and buried a few weeks ago having dropped their first six games. But now winners of four straight, with a win on Sunday they are right back in the mix for the division. They’ve improved their play along the offensive line, in the running game and the rushing defense.

Last Meeting: The Cowboys held on for a 36-31 win on opening weekend despite Eli Manning passing for 450 yards, with three receivers having 100 yards or more. Dallas forced six turnovers including by Manning.

Here are four key matchups to watch for this week:

Cowboys WR Dez Bryant vs Corey Webster/Prince Amukamara: Bryant was held relatively quiet in the first meeting with only 4 catches for 22 yards. And Romo will want to get Bryant involved quickly in this one, so the onus will be on the Giants corners to shadow the mercurial Bryant with safety help over the top as they did in Week 1.

Romo will have to pick his spots and get Bryant the ball and the chains moving as when he gets going so does the entire offense. Look for Dallas to move Bryant a lot in this one, motioning him into the slot to try and get him open quickly.

DeMarcus Ware/George Selvie vs the Giants OL: Ware is supposed to be back from a quad injury in this one and the timing couldn’t be better from a Cowboy’s perspective. Dallas’ defense needs a shot in the arm and having Ware and Selvie putting pressure on Manning could help this defense that will be dealing with the absence of LBs Sean Lee with a bad hamstring and Justin Durant.

Ware, who needs only three more sacks to tie Cowboy’s legend Harvey Martin will be lined up opposite Will Beatty but Dallas may also flip he and Selvie around and put Ware on rookie Justin Pugh which would be a much more favorable matchup. In Week 1 Ware had both a sack of Manning and an interception.

Victor Cruz vs Dallas Secondary: Cruz had a huge game with 5 receptions for 118 yards receiving and 3 touchdowns in the first meeting back in September and Dallas, already shorthanded on defense will be looking to prevent the big play.

Cruz who has 58 receptions for 824 yards and 4 TDs in 2013 will draw both Morris Claiborne and Orlando Scandrick at times in this matchup. There has been a lot of room to throw on Monte Kiffin’s defense this season and Manning will want to get Cruz involved right away.

Dwayne Harris vs NYG Special Teams: Frequently in these tight divisional games it takes just one big special teams’ play to turn the tide. Harris has been doing it for the Cowboys on both kickoffs and punt returns.

Harris possesses blistering speed and has outstanding averages in both categories with a stellar 32.3 average on kickoffs and 15.1 on punt returns. The Giants coverage units especially the punt team has not been good this season.

Look for P Steve Weatherford to try to kick the ball out of bounds this week and K Josh Brown will be trying to put the ball out of the end zone to keep Harris grounded.

Prediction: The Cowboys defense has been a nightmare this season and the slew of injuries haven’t helped. But they’ve been very good at not turning the ball over this season (11 turnovers) while the Giants have turned it over a lot, especially with Manning throwing a lot of interceptions.

Romo and the offense will have to stay patient in this one and continue to mix in the run, even if it isn’t gaining a lot of yardage and it will open up the play action pass. Bryant will have a much bigger game this time around as a late turnover will turn the tide as both Romo and Manning will pass for a lot of yards in this one. Cowboys 31-27