This has been an odd week for the Dallas Cowboys. Usually, when the Cowboys are playing the New York Giants at home with a playoff berth on the line there is a bit more enthusiasm and build up for the game. Yet the both the Cowboys and Giants are coming off disappointing losses last week and a lot of the focus in the media so far has been on what is going on inside the team, with team drama and key injuries prevalent in most stories.
The New York media has started to set it's sights on the upcoming game in Dallas, some of it flattering and some not so much. It's amazing how many different views there are about the game, some already looking forward to the Carolina game while others not doubting the Cowboys could cause the Giants all sorts of problems. If the Cowboys had won last week, I'm sure this game would be getting a bit more attention. However, if the Giants lose in Dallas then home field advantage in the playoffs would be on the line in Carolina.
Besides, it's a Cowboys/Giants game; it's always a big game in my eyes.
Follow the jump to see what the New York media has to say about the game.
Mike Dougherty of LoHud.com says that the Giants need to do all they can to prevent the Dallas Cowboys from making the playoffs, and several New York players agree.
"No question," [Brandon Jacobs]said. "A team like that could be dangerous in the playoffs. But we're not worrying about that right now. We just want to go out and win this game. We just want to execute better than we did in the last game."
"They're going to be double desperate this week," running back Derrick Ward said. "They're going to throw everything at us. We have to see how much we can take on the chin and keep on going. It would always be nice to not play any division opponents in the playoffs."
New York Daily News:
The Cowboys (8-5) are clinging to the last playoff spot in the NFC and have a brutal schedule with the Giants, Ravens and a road game against the Eagles remaining.
Romo's critics will soon find out how he fares in critical games since each one will be pivotal in determining if the Cowboys make the postseason.
Considering that the Giants are 11-2, have a playoff spot, the NFC East, and at least one home game already wrapped up, and need only one more win in their final three games to secure a bye, the smart thing might be to rest Jacobs on Sunday night - especially given the Giants’ bad history with injuries on the unforgiving Texas Stadium turf. Also, they have a huge game coming up the following week, on Dec. 21 vs. Carolina - a game which will likely determine home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
It's pretty disconcerting to think that a big game on national television between two rivals who are 1 and 2 in the division would be good time to rest their top running back. Unfortunately, looking at it from the Giants' POV, I agree.
New York Times:
The thought that the Giants' offense could continue rolling without Plaxico Burress has been halted after a bad game against the Eagles, and now things are really worrisome with Dominic Hixon nursing an injury.
But the Giants’ transition to an offense without Burress has been far from seamless. Their defeat against the Eagles last Sunday — the Giants’ least productive passing game of the season — seemed to be yet another reminder. And now, with Hixon’s sitting out practice on Wednesday, the team could be running out of reliable options at wide receiver.
While Burress wasn't catching a whole bunch of passes this season, his presence alone was opening things up for the other receivers. Without the tall receiver threatening defenses deep on the outside,opponents can focus on shutting down the rest of the team.
The Cowboys play the Giants on Sunday night with an opportunity for Dallas to cling to its wild-card hopes (the Giants have already clinched the division). Imagine how different it would have been if the Cowboys had held on to beat the Steelers and were just two games behind the Giants. Instead, in seven minutes, hope gave way to despair.
The Cowboys are tied with the Atlanta Falcons for the sixth playoff spot (the loser of Monday’s National Football Conference South showdown between Carolina and Tampa Bay, both 9-3, would be in the first wild-card spot). But the bigger problem is that the Cowboys have realized their potential for only fleeting moments this season.
The Giants running needs Brandon Jacobs, but he hasn't been very effective lately.
Jacobs gained 52 yards on 10 carries against the Eagles, raising his season total to 1,002 yards on 195 carries. Jacobs missed the Arizona game Nov. 23 with pain in the same knee, and gained only 71 yards on 21 carries at Washington a week later. He and his backups, Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw, are nicknamed Earth, Wind and Fire.Ward (Wind) has 669 yards on 138 carries; Bradshaw (Fire) has 319 yards on 54 carries. But Jacobs (Earth) is the largest and most powerful, the catalyst for the Giants’ league-leading running attack.
I'm split on this; on one hand, I want the Cowboys to be able to focus on stopping Bradshaw and Ward, yet I would also enjoy seeing what a revamped defense could do against a powerful rushing attack.
New York Post:
Back on Nov. 2, the Giants shredded the Cowboys for 200 rushing yards, embarking on an incredible stretch that continued with 207 rushing yards in Philadelphia and, for a resounding finish, a 207-yard masterpiece against the vaunted Ravens run defense. The offensive line and the trio of runners, Brandon Jacobs, Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw, were in such harmony that it appeared no one could stop them.
Since then, the Giants have rushed for 87, 108 and 88 yards. They won in Arizona and Washington because Eli Manning was able to make the opposing defenses pay for such extra attention against the run with effective passing performances. The party stopped with last week's 20-14 loss to the Eagles. The Giants are anxious to reclaim their running prowess.
The Cowboys need Marion Barber to be at his best against the Giants, a team he has had big days against lately.
The Cowboys will be fighting for their playoff lives Sunday when they face the Giants in Big Blue's final trip to Texas Stadium. And despite a solid performance from backup RB Tashard Choice in a loss to the Steelers this past Sunday, Dallas' best chance comes with the explosive Barber in the backfield.
While I would love Barber to be back on the field running over Giants' linebackers, I am more than comfortable in seeing Tashard Choice play significant amount of time. Amazing what a great performance agains the top defense in the league will do.