The Giants will look to avenge their season-opening loss, and stay atop the NFC East Sunday. And should they do that, they could put a crippling blow to any hope that the Dallas Cowboys (2-3) have of staying in the divisional race.
1. Can they protect Eli?
Eli Manning was sacked three times last week, and battered countless other times – including being forced into a couple of intentional grounding calls due to the fierce rush. He was an entirely different quarterback during his thrilling comeback victory over the 49ers two weeks ago than he was in Philadelphia. That was due to the fact his offensive linemen took care of him against San Francisco, but hung him out to dry against the Eagles.
2. Start fast, and stay fast
The Giants executed a brilliant 80-yard touchdown-scoring drive to start last week’s game, and then fizzled out the rest of the way, never to score again. Despite being undermanned, the Cowboys are still a formidable foe, simply off of familiarity, so Big Blue will need to jump on them early and not give them any hope of staying in the game. When bad teams hang around too long, it’s a recipe for disaster for the superior team, so Manning and Co. will need to duplicate last week’s start and then keep the momentum going.
3. Capitalize on opportunities
Head coach Tom Coughlin stresses the importance of winning the turnover battle each week, and last week against the Eagles was a time where winning that margin didn’t translate to a victory. It was a rare occurrence, as they had a plus-one in that category, but didn’t score a single point off their four takeaways. Dallas’ new starting quarterback, Matt Cassel, has been known to give some away (14 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in the last two seasons), so it’s imperative that Big Blue finds a way to force those errors – and capitalize.
“We had four turnovers (last week) and nothing to show for it,” Coughlin said. “That was a very unusual circumstance in any game. Usually when you do have an opportunity for those things to take place, you take advantage -- and quite frankly, there probably could have been more. We didn’t take advantage of anything and that’s disappointing.