New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) passes against the Atlanta Falcons in the third quarter of an NFL football game in East Rutherford, N.J., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2009. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
The Opponent: The New York Giants, aka the Jints. Where did Jints come from? No one pronounces it Jints except when they say Jints because everyone else says Jints as a joke. Annoying.
Record: 5-6, 3rd in NFC East.
The Line: Cowboys by 1. Ugh, the dreaded road favorite tag yet again.
Last Game: A brutal 26-6 Thanksgiving loss at Denver. The Giants have now dropped 5 of 6 games. It’s a baffling turn of events for a team that, last time they played the Cowboys, were regarded as favorites to win the NFC. Since being put in their place by New Orleans to start their losing skid, the Giants have ceased to resemble, in any way, the team that won the Super Bowl two years ago and 13 games just last year. The Giants ran for a lousy 57 yards against Denver. What happened to the O-line that seemed to gash defenses for six yards a carry every time out?
The Coach: Tom Coughlin. Not a pleasant fellow to be around in the midst of a losing streak.
The Offense: As we talked about Monday, Eli Manning has a lingering foot problem that threatens to end his season at any moment. For now, he remains in the lineup. But the injury could be one of the causes of his shaky play. Against Denver, Manning barely managed to complete half his passes and also tossed a pick. He was dreadfully inaccurate at times, overthrowing receivers as only Eli can. This team desperately needs to get its ground game back going strong. But that may not be easy with defenses keying on Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw, daring Eli and his gimpy foot to beat them .
The Defense: Technically, this is the fourth ranked defense in all of football. But that’s a deceiving stat in light of the Giants recent woes. In the past six games, the Giants have given up an average of over 31 points a game. The pass rush of Justin Tuck and the gang, once dominant, has mysteriously vanished in the process. The Cowboys ran for over 250 yards against New York in their first matchup of the season. There’s no reason they can’t do it again.
Key Matchup: Terence Newman vs. Steve Smith and Mario Manningham. Last time around, the Giants won because Smith and Manningham roamed freely among the Dallas secondary, catching every throw and carom that came their way. If the secondary, which has improved of late, can cover better, then Eli and his foot may have a very long day.