Thursday, September 17, 2009

Giants-Cowboys: Breaking Down the Sunday Night Showdown

by Doug Rush

This may be the most anticipated game of NFL week two.

The Giants are 1-0 and coming off a 23-17 win against the Washington Redskins last week.

The Cowboys are also 1-0 after a 34-21 victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1.

Both teams looked impressive during their wins. On Sunday night, the two NFC East rivals will rumble in Arlington, where the Cowboys will unveil the brand-new Cowboys Stadium on NBC's "Sunday Night Football."

How does each unit fare against each other? Let's take a look.

Giants Offense vs. Cowboys Defense

On Sunday, the Giants showed they can use a balanced attack when it comes to passing the ball.

Eli Manning distributed the ball to seven different receivers. Steve Smith made tremendous catches in traffic and looks to be Manning's most dependable receiver. Tight end Kevin Boss has become a great weapon for Manning as has wide receiver Mario Manningham.

The running game must do a better job in short-yardage situations with Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw.

The Cowboys pressure the pass well with DeMarcus Ware, one of the best defensive players in the NFL.

The Dallas secondary might be where the Giants can take advantage down field. So as long as the Giants offensive line stays healthy and keeps Manning off his back, the quarterback will have a chance to pick apart the Cowboys secondary.

Giants Defense vs. Cowboys Offense

The Cowboys were able to use a similar passing attack on Sunday as they did last season, but without Terrell Owens demanding the football.

Tony Romo was able to get the ball to Jason Witten, Roy Williams, and Patrick Crayton effectively. The Giants will most likely be without Aaron Ross at cornerback and need Kevin Dockery healthy in order to cover the Cowboys receivers.

The Cowboys running game is similar to the Giants, with power back Marion Barber and speedy complimentary back Felix Jones. The backs did a decent job last Sunday, but weren't overly impressive.

The Cowboys must protect Romo. The Giants defense was impressive against the Redskins. Their pass rush, bookended by Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora, is perhaps the best in the NFL. Up the middle, Chris Canty showed his value on the line and the Giants will get back linebacker Michael Boley.

Who has the edge on Sunday?

The Giants and Cowboys are very similar.

Both play receivers by committee and, to the benefit of the quarterbacks, no longer rely on Plaxico Burress and Terrell Owens.

Both successfully use two types of running backs.

Both defenses put pressure on the opponent's quarterback, forcing costly mistakes.

So what's the difference?

The Giants have a slight advantage because of their pressure-packed pass rush that wreaks just a bit more havoc. The Cowboys have Ware, but the Giants have Tuck, Umenyiora, Mathias Kiwanuka and Canty. The more the merrier.

Final Score Prediction?

I'm going with an upset. It's risky, especially since it's a road game for the Giants, but I think it's worth it. I'm picking the Giants to step up on the big stage and ruin the Dallas' homecoming party by knocking off the Cowboys 28-24.