MetLife Stadium: East Rutherford, New Jersey
Sunday 1:00 PM ET (Fox: Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis)
This will be the 112th all-time meeting between the Giants and Cowboys, 111th in the regular season. Dallas leads the all-time series 63-46-2, winning the last game 19-3 on Sept. 10 (Week 1).
COWBOYS INJURY REPORT
GIANTS INJURY REPORT
QUESTIONABLE: Cornerback Eli Apple (hip/back), running back Orleans Darkwa (illness), defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (finger), wide receiver Sterling Shepard (hamstring), offensive lineman Chad Wheeler (concussion)
WHEN THE GIANTS HAVE THE BALL
The Geno Smith Experiment lasted a grand total of one game as Eli Manning makes his return to the starting lineup. The Giants don’t need any extra motivation for a game against their hated division foe, but Manning’s return should have the offense all fired up. They will come out ready to play.
Manning’s return to the starting lineup (as well as all the off-field drama surrounding the team this week) doesn’t nothing to change one simple fact: the Giants can’t score points. They only average 15.8 points per game, next to last in the NFL.
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Scoring could be a problem for the Giants because of the absence of Pugh, who will miss his fourth consecutive game. Pugh would line up at the right tackle spot opposite DeMarcus Lawrence, who leads the league with 13.5 sacks. Stopping Lawrence is of the utmost importance. He had 1.5 sacks in the season opener.
The Cowboys defense also gets back Sean Lee, who missed most of the last four games with an injured hamstring.
In order for the Giants to win this game, they have to score points. There is no two ways around it. Manning has to get the ball to Shepard and Evan Engram. They also need to manufacture something resembling a running game. Darkwa was limited in practice this week but the Giants will need him to be at his best.
WHEN THE COWBOYS HAVE THE BALL
The Cowboys without the suspended Ezekiel Elliott is completely different than the team they faced three months ago. Without Elliott, the Cowboys offense has been decidedly one-dimensional. If the Giants have any hope of winning, they must make Dallas a one-trick pony. This could prove easier than done with what’s left of the Giants defense.
The Giants have depth problems at the linebacker and cornerback positions that could be exploited. The defensive line has been unable to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Although the Cowboys offense has taken steps back without Elliott, they can still manufacture points against this Giants defense.
Steve Spagnuolo was named interim head coach after the Giants cut ties with Ben McAdoo. As defensive coordinator, he called plays but may not be able to do so Sunday. If Spagnuolo has too much on his plate, the play-calling duty would go to safeties coach Dave Merritt. Merritt, who’s been with the team since 2005, is the longest-tenured member of the Giants coaching staff.
WHO WILL WIN THE GAME?
With division rivals, throw away the statistics because it sometimes comes down to who wants it more. The Giants need this win to officially close the page on the Ben McAdoo Error while the Cowboys are still fighting for the postseason. Manning’s return will have the team’s adrenaline pumping, as will McAdoo not being on the sideline. The Giants will do better than anyone expects, keeping this game close. Unfortunately, talent wins in the NFL and the Giants simply don’t have enough.
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