By Shawn Lealos
The Dallas Cowboys became the first team to clinch a playoff spot this past weekend with their win over the Minnesota Vikings. They next have a chance to clinch the NFC East. If the Dallas Cowboys avenge their only loss of the season, a first-week defeat to the New York Giants, they will wrap up the NFC East and put themselves in position for a first-round playoff bye. Here is a look at the Cowboys’ Week 14 opponent, the New York Giants.
New York Giants Season Record
The New York Giants are on pace for the playoffs. New York is 8-4 on the season and they need to beat Dallas and win out—while hoping the Cowboys collapse—to take the NFC East. That is not likely, but the Giants are still fighting for the wild card spot and, if the NFL season ended today, New York would be the No. 1 wild card team. A win in Dallas could really help them when it comes to tiebreakers as well.
New York Giants On Offense
The New York Giants only seem to be able to move the ball on a regular basis through their passing game. The passing offense of the Giants remains dangerous, with Eli Manning at quarterback. However, Manning is struggling with consistency, as he has through much of his career. He has thrown 22 touchdown passes but has also thrown 12 interceptions and has been sacked 15 times this season.
Manning’s top receiving target is still Odell Beckham Jr., who ranks fourth in the NFL in receptions (75) and receiving yards (1,015). It is his third straight 1,000-yard receiving season and he is on pace for his first 100-reception season. Sterling Shepard is also having a great rookie season, with 48 catches for 497 yards and six touchdowns. However, the Achilles heel for the Giants is a poor offensive line that can’t open holes for the running backs. The leading rusher for the Giants is Rashad Jennings, who has only 414 yards; the team, as a whole, only averages 3.5 yards-per-run.
New York Giants On Defense
The Giants won six straight games before falling to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday and that is because of an improved defense. The Steelers are back on track again this season and the Giants still remained competitive in the game. However, the Giants did show some weakness by giving up 118 yards rushing to Le’Veon Bell. That makes things look pretty good for Ezekiel Elliott, who holds the NFL rushing lead by over 200 yards. The Giants don’t rank highly in either pass or rush defense, but they do have 11 interceptions on the season and remain dangerous.
New York Giants Players To Watch
Odell Beckham Jr. – The Dallas Cowboys’ biggest weakness is still their defense, and they are riddled with injuries in their secondary. That makes Odell Beckham Jr. a huge threat to expose those weaknesses. In the first game this season, Beckham led the team with four receptions for 73 yards.
Landon Collins – The Giants have 11 interceptions on the season and Landon Collins leads the team with five. He is also the leading tackler on the team with 94 tackles, 76 of them solo. Add in two tackles for a loss, three sacks, and a pick-six, and this is the one defensive player that can really give the Cowboys’ offense headaches.
The Dallas Cowboys have only lost one game this season and it was the season-opening game against the New York Giants. That loss came after Terrance Williams caught a ball at the end of the game and went down in bounds instead of running to the sidelines to stop the clock and allow Dan Bailey a field goal opportunity. This gives Dallas a chance to avenge that loss, and if they can run well against the Giants defense, the Cowboys will control the clock and clinch the NFC East.