By Steve Silverman
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It might seem that the Giants (5-2) are where they want to be with three straight wins heading into Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys (3-3), but they are actually at the point in the schedule where they are going to get pushed to the limit most weeks.
The win over the 49ers showed that when the Giants are in top form they are very difficult to beat. They handled the NFL’s preseason favorites on their own turf and they did it with ease.
But in the modern NFL, it’s almost impossible to get peak performances on an every-week basis.
This should be one of those weeks that the Giants are on track to play their best game. They go to Dallas to play the team that defeated (embarrassed) them in Week One, and there’s no way that Tom Coughlin is going to abide two losses to the Cowboys in the same season.
He certainly has the weapons to do something about it. However, this is a game that probably means more to the Cowboys than it does to the Giants. Dallas eked out a win last week over a substandard Carolina team.
Since the win came on the road, they should be primed for a big game at home against the Giants. In the Week One loss, the Giants simply did not put enough pressure on Tony Romo and he had a great night.
Romo completed 22-of-29 passes for 307 yards with 3 TDs and just 1 interception. He was sacked twice, but he was able to buy time and scramble away from pressure in crucial situations.
When Romo gets off to a good start, his confidence grows and he throws one of the most catchable balls in the NFL. However, if he suffers an early interception, fumble or gets sacked a couple of times, he becomes timid and his decision-making suffers.
That’s where the Giants defensive line has to assert itself. Jason Pierre-Paul has 4.5 sacks to lead the Giants, but that’s five sacks fewer than Houston’s league-leading J.J. Watt. There are 17 pass rushers who have more sacks than Pierre-Paul and no other Giant has more than 3.0 sacks.
It’s time for New York to turn up the pass rush pressure. That’s clearly the strength of this team.
If the Giants have a significant weakness, it’s in their pass defense. They are giving up 253.3 yards a game through the air, ranking 21st in the league. That’s a weakness that Coughlin and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell have to be very concerned about.
The pass defense is bad. Too many mistakes and too many weaknesses. It’s not New England Patriots bad, but it could get the Giants in trouble against a great team.
The Cowboys are not a great team. They make a lot of mistakes themselves and if the Giants can pressure Romo consistently, they will turn the ball over three or four times. Their most talented receiver Dez Bryant is a rock head who often runs the wrong pass patterns, leaving Romo out to dry.
Against the Bears, Bryant ran the incorrect pass route and cornerback Charles Tillman had a gift interception return for a touchdown.
Early pressure on Romo and an early lead should be enough to put the Cowboys away. However, if they allow Romo time to throw and the Cowboys are within seven points at halftime, the Giants will have a serious 60-minute battle.
After lining up against Dallas, the Giants face Pittsburgh and Cincinnati prior to their bye week. After that it’s Green Bay, Washington and New Orleans followed by a closing burst against Atlanta, Baltimore and Philadelphia.
The schedule is brutally tough. The Giants can’t make the mistake of giving a division rival a chance to get up off the mat and think of themselves as contenders.
There’s too much trouble later on to allow that to happen.
Will the Giants slip up against the Cowboys again? Let’s hear your thoughts…