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Despite Giants dysfunction, the Cowboys can’t take them lightly in must-win game

What has happened to the Giants in 2017? They just so happen to be the Cowboys’ next opponent.

NFL: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Suddenly, the once-perceived stable franchise isn’t so stable anymore. Ahead of this weekend’s NFC East matchup, the Giants are in a position that the Cowboys’ were in some seven years ago. One of my fondest Cowboys’ memories centers around the lost season of 2010, where I was living in New York City and the over-matched Cowboys pulled off an improbable victory at Met-Life. Now, the tables have turned as it’s the “New York Football Giants” who are the organization in disarray.

Not since 1976 have the Giants’ fired a head coach during the season but this past Monday, both head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese were canned. The Giants were founded by the Mara family in 1925 and are currently under the eye of John Mara making him the third generation of the Mara family to operate the franchise.

Only one club has been in control by a single family for longer and that’s the Bears (owned by the Halas/McCaskey family since 1921.) The Giants organization under the Mara’s have always been patient so for them to make this move, it shows how sour things have become. With that said, John Mara shouldn’t escape the blame by pinning it on the two guys he ousted. The Giants may not have a wildcatter outspoken showman as their owner but make no mistake, they are just as “hands on” as the Joneses.

John Mara has been behind every decision that has led the Giants to this point. It was Mara that fired Tom Coughlin in 2015 and promoted McAdoo. It was Mara who also decided to retain Reese and the majority of Coughlin’s staff. There is no conceivable way McAdoo and Reese make the decision to bench the two-time Super Bowl Champion quarterback, Eli Manning, without Mara giving his stamp of approval. So, where does that leave the New York Giants heading into this Sunday’s game at Met Life Stadium?

Well, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will be taking the coaching reins in the interim. Mara and Reese invested $200 million into their defense a few seasons ago and it’s truly the one spot that has even performed decently at times in an otherwise completely disorganized mess.

In fact, that defense is the one consistent unit that seemingly makes it tough on the Cowboys. However, their “shutdown” cornerback Janoris Jenkins will not be available to contend with Dez Bryant this week. Still, with Landon Collins and a defensive front including Damon “Snacks” Harrison, Dalvin Tomlinson, Olivier Vernon, and Jason Pierre-Paul, it won’t be easy for Alfred Morris or the Cowboys’ star-studded offensive line.

After one week of watching Geno Smith (instead of rookie Davis Webb), the Giants will return to Eli Manning in hopes it can spark the team once more. Manning is certainly not the biggest reason the Giants are losing games, that designation is reserved for perhaps the worst starting offensive line in all of pro football. With that said, Manning isn’t playing all that well either, his 42.4 total QBR ranks him 25th in the league. Manning is 21st in passing yards, 31st in yards per attempt (6.10), has 14 touchdown passes and seven interceptions. Without Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, and any semblance of a running game, Manning is doing the best that he can to manufacture offense, it’s just not working.

The Giants’ offensive rankings are as follows: 28th in total yards, 31st in points per game (15.8), 27th in rushing (only four rushing TDs), 31st in third-down conversion percentage, and have punted 70 times, more than any team in the league. Last year, the Giants were the third-worst team in three-and-outs, this year, they are the kings of three-and-out. Again, not having adequate protection on the offensive line is truly holding this team hostage from having any production that can consistently win games.

The last time these two teams played, the Cowboys held the Giants to three points, New York’s lowest point total of the season. Despite being blown out three times this season, the Cowboys still remain a Top-10 scoring offense with 23.8 points per game. The Giants have the defense to keep the score low as they held Dallas to 19 in week one. It will be the Cowboys’ defense that sacked Kirk Cousins four times and forced three turnovers last week heading into the Meadowlands. Dallas will also be getting Sean Lee back and adding him to a defense that features the league’s leading sack artist, DeMarcus Lawrence.

Though the Giants look outmatched, the Cowboys are 6-6 and very beatable. Spagnuolo will be looking to fire up his team much like Jason Garrett did in 2010 and pick up the upset win. If the Cowboys could go up and beat New York with Jon Kitna at the helm, the Giants can do the same with Manning. It will be important for the Cowboys to weather New York’s best shots early and wear them down in the end. The Cowboys are in playoff mode and will have to win out to even sniff a playoff berth.

The New York Giants aren’t talented enough offensively without their star wide receivers to contend with what’s on the other side. Hopefully, the Cowboys know that and won’t allow them to mess around and win their third game. No matter the talent levels, New York will play hard as they know they are all under the microscope for 2018. In the face of adversity, a dysfunctional family can often come together and pull out all the stops. It’ll be up to the Cowboys to not let one of the league’s worst teams hang around in this one.

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