Stop the run.
Don't get me wrong. I'd also be perfectly okay with the Cowboys keeping their penalties, in, say, single digits. And covering kickoffs. And protecting their quarterback. And not throwing (especially) fourth quarter interceptions. And not turning opposing receivers scot free. But in my mind, the 'Boys' chances of beating the Giants tonight hinge, more than any other single factor, on stopping the New York running game.
Dallas did a nice job controlling the Vikings' Adrian Peterson last week. But I'm still having horrific flashbacks of the Texans' Arian Foster and the Titans' Chris Johnson not getting touched until they were past the first two levels of the Cowboy defense and having to be pulled down from behind by Cowboy defensive backs. It's hard for me to imagine Dallas winning tonight if Ahmad Bradshaw gets more than 60 rushing yards. Eli Manning, whatever his faults and inconsistencies, is an excellent play-action passer. If the Giants are running the ball with even average effectiveness, Dallas will have to honor Eli's play fakes. But history has shown that if Little Manning has to throw the ball 40 times from the pocket, he's apt to serve up multiple interceptions.
Interceptions. Takeaways. A concept to which Cowboy players and fans may need to re-introduced. Five games. Four takeaways. Minus-5 in overall turnover ratio. That's losing football. That's 1-4.
The Giants have rushed for at least 100 yards in all six of their games. That streak must be stopped tonight if the Cowboys are to stop their slide and keep their season alive.
Stop the run. Make Eli drop back and throw from the pocket in long yardage situations. Pressure him. Then catch the ball when Manning inevitably aims it at white shirts.