The Cowboys head to the Meadowlands to play the Giants on Sunday in a game featuring two down-on-their-luck teams. The Cowboys are struggling to keep their playoff hopes from completely flatlining, the Giants are looking for one last hurrah before everything completely disintegrates in New York.
Divisional games have a way of taking on a life of their own, so pre-game predictions may not mean all that much. Whether or not the experts have a good feel for what will happen on Sunday remains to be seen, but here's what those experts are predicting for the game:
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Dulac): Cowboys 28, Giants 20
The one thing the Cowboys have been able to do is win games in their own division (3-1). Their problem has been outside the division. The Giants think they have eliminated their problem — firing Coach Ben McAdoo and GM Jerry Reese.
Sporting News (Steele): Cowboys 27, Giants 13
The circus sets up its tents at MetLife Stadium, and for once, the Cowboys are not the main act. Not only that, but the Cowboys are the more stable of the teams facing off. The Sunday night opener seems like a million years ago: Remember when the big problem was whether the Giants could string together a few scores while Odell Beckham Jr. rehabbed from his preseason injury? Eli Manning returns from one of the all-time most pointless benchings, amazing considering the recent competition includes Peterman-for-Tyrod.
Pro Football Talk (Florio): Cowboys 27, Giants 17
The end of the Eli Manning era has ended. It won’t be enough to overcome two weeks of dysfunction against a Dallas team that remains alive for a playoff berth.
La Times (Farmer): Cowboys 24, Giants 20
Who knows how the Giants are going to perform after all this upheaval. Alfred Morris is running the ball pretty well for Dallas, and that takes the heat off Dak Prescott.
CBS (Prisco): Cowboys 24, Giants 14
This should be Eli Manning back under center playing for interim coach Steve Spagnuolo for the Giants. This is New York's Super Bowl, but they aren't good enough. The Cowboys got the running game back on track last week, and it continues. Cowboys stay alive.
Pro Football Talk (Smith): Cowboys 23, Giants 20
Eli Manning is back at quarterback, which probably gives the Giants a better chance to win but doesn’t allow them to evaluate rookie Davis Webb, which is something they probably ought to do before the season is over. I’m tempted to pick the Giants to rally after the firing of Ben McAdoo, but the Cowboys are fighting for a wild card berth and so I see them putting together a strong game.
NFL (Harrison): Cowboys 16, Giants 13
This could be an ugly game. Maybe the Cowboys will grab a few garbage-time scores to win, say, 30-13, but I think the Giants are going to play for interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo and quarterback Eli Manning. Manning's new games-started streak will be at one in a row, but that No. 1 represents much more to his career and this franchise. He handled being benched with dignity and helped Geno Smith out in Oakland -- now, he should make a few throws against the Dallas secondary. The problem: What can Manning garner from the run game with Sean Lee on defense for Dallas? When Lee has played, the Cowboys have allowed 80.3 rushing yards per game. Without Lee, they've allowed 135.3. That's a massive difference. How about points? With Lee, Dallas gives up 18.0 per game, as compared with 29.3 without the rangy middle linebacker.
Miami Herald (Cote): Giants 24, Cowboys 20
Dallas is injury-wracked, and Biggies will be fired up at home now that interim coach Steve Spagnuolo corrected Ben McAdoo’s colossal mistake and reinstated Eli Manning as starter.
New York Times (Hoffman): Giants
The Cowboys (6-6, 6 percent) have two more games before Ezekiel Elliott is eligible to return from a suspension, and if they continue to play the way they did last week against Washington, then the star running back could be coming back to a team with an 8-6 record. Standing in the way of that is a hypermotivated Giants team (2-10, 0 percent) that fired its unpopular head coach, reinstalled Eli Manning at quarterback and will do everything possible to come away with a win at home. Dallas has a huge advantage in talent, and is rightfully the favorite, even on the road, but the Giants might want this one a little more.