PFF Preview: Cowboys @ Giants, Week 7
The New York Giants (3-3) were shut out in their loss to the Eagles on Sunday Night Football last week. The schedule doesn’t get easier as they will travel to the ‘house that Jerry built’ to take on the Dallas Cowboys (5-1) who have won five in a row including last weeks victory over the defending Super Bowl champs.
DeMarco Murray has been running through opposing defenses this year with ease. He leads the league in forced missed tackles on rushing attempts with 35, while the next highest has 25. Murray has 792 yards rushing this season, a 250-yard lead on the second-leading rusher in the league, and has had 471 of those yards come after contact. One of the few negatives of Murray’s game this year is the three fumbles he has had, which is the most among running backs.
As a cumulative measure, the Giants are in the Top 10 in the league in run defense grades (+15.7) so far in 2014. Jason Pierre-Paul has been especially good against the run this year with a league leading 21 stops and a +10.1 in run defense. After a tough Week 1, outside linebacker Jacquian Williams has been rather productive overall and exceptional defending the run (+5.6). Williams is behind only Pierre-Paul in run defense and stops. Williams is currently the fifth-best outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense against the run through the first six games.
Whether Murray can continue his success against the Giants’ run defense will be key to the success of either side. Here are some other players to watch in this matchup:
Rolando McClain – McClain has been the third-best inside linebacker in pass coverage this year (+5.9). Quarterbacks have been dealt a 51.2 passer rating when throwing to receivers in McClain’s coverage.
Henry Melton – Even though Melton has played in less than half of the Cowboys’ defensive snaps, he has made his presence felt in the pass rush (+8.5) by racking up 10 hurries, three hits, and two sacks.
Zack Martin – The Cowboys’ rookie right guard has a Pass Blocking Efficiency of 98.2%, allowing pressure one the quarterback five times on 204 passing plays.
New York Giants
Larry Donnell – Donnell leads the league’s tight ends in drop rate with 26 receptions on 26 catchable passes.
Prince Amukamara – After struggling to stay healthy throughout most of his NFL career, Amukamara has played all but 17 of the Giants 405 defensive snaps, and played well overall (+4.0).
Mark Herzlich – Playing in a rotational role, Herzlich has been solid in run defense (+4.9), which the Giants will need in hopes of slowing down the Cowboys run game.
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