PFF Preview: Cowboys @ Giants, Week 12
Though the Cowboys lost two of their last three thanks in part to Tony Romo’s back injury, their previous six-game winning streak ensures that they still sit tied with Philadelphia atop the NFC East. Conversely, the Giants have been in freefall as of late, dropping five straight, the latest of which was highlighted by an ugly five-interception performance by Eli Manning. It’s not all bad for the Giants, however, as Odell Beckham Jr. has emerged as one of the best rookie wideouts, earning Manning’s trust with nine or more targets in each of the last three games.
Where they truly may struggle is in run defense. Allowing 145 yards per game on the ground, the Giants must now stop DeMarco Murray, who’s topped 1,200 yards in just 10 games and is coming off a well-earned week of rest. A fully healthy Romo should have this offense firing on all cylinders, but it’s the other side of the ball where Dallas might get exposed. Despite several high-profile departures, the defense has come together nicely under Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli, though it has the run-heavy ball control style of the offense to thank for some of that.
The postseason might be a longshot at 3-7, but the Giants would love nothing more than to knock their division rival down a peg. With two games to go against the Eagles and a home contest against the Colts looming over the season’s final six weeks, Dallas will need to take wins where it can get them, and that starts Sunday night in East Rutherford.
Henry Melton – Playing in what amounts to a contract year, the former Bear has been a force rushing the passer. His six sacks lead the team, and he has three or more pressures in six games this year, though he was blanked in their first game in Week 7.
Zack Martin – Arguably the team’s best offensive lineman, the first-round pick is one of only two guards to grade of +5.0 in both the run game and in pass protection. At +8.4, his pass blocking grade is second among guards.
Dez Bryant – When Murray needs a rest, Bryant will become the offense’s primary weapon. In his last two games against the Giants, Bryant tallied 18 catches for 253 yards. This year, 43 wide receivers have run more pass routes than Bryant but only 10 have more yards.
New York Giants
Jason Pierre-Paul – He won’t be able to get to every run, but Pierre-Paul should make his impact felt Sunday night. His 21 stops in run defense are third most at the position, and that’s contributed to a league-best +15.2 run defense grade.
Robert Ayers – An extremely valuable yet under-the-radar signing, Ayers has had a monster year rushing the passer, recording a team-high 38 pressures. If the Giants can’t stop the run, however, Ayers may not see much of the field and his lowest snap count of the season was in the Week 7 trip to Dallas.
Eli Manning – In typical Eli fashion, consistency has not been his strong suit. Manning has a superb +18.7 grade on plays without pressure, but a far from ideal -18.0 when defenders hurry him. His passer rating drops more than 40 points with rushers in his face.
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