Sunday Night Football: Dallas Cowboys host the New York Giants

It’s must-win time for a number of teams in the NFL, and the Sunday Night Football match-up between the Dallas Cowboys (7-5) and the New York Giants (6-6) is the definitive game of the night featuring two team that simply must come away with a victory to keep their playoff hopes alive. In a battle of NFC East teams separated by just 1 game heading into the final 3 weeks of play, expectations are high that this will be one of the best games of the NFL weekend, and it’s likely that neither team should disappoint in this great option for online sports betting at Sportsbook today.

Aside from losing 4 straight games and many of the New York faithful starting calls for head coach Tom Coughlin’s job, the Giants find themselves mired in an underperforming division, with every chance to pull off a playoff seed provided they can find a way to right their ship in these last 3 pivotal games. With a win today against Dallas, New York would move into a two-way tie with Dallas in the division at 2-2 and 7-6 overall, but would have to continue their winning ways to overcome the Cowboys’ season record as Dallas owns a tie-breaker over them. For the Giants, consistency has been a key issue after a hot start to the season on clutch play from quarterback Eli Manning (3705 yards, 23 TDs, 11 INTs, 96.0 passer rating), and losing 4 straight has seen them slip from 2 games up in the NFC East to 1 game down with just 3 left to play. New York certainly showed a return to solid playing form in a quality effort against Green Bay last week, a game they lost on the last drive 38-35, and no doubt was aided by the return of leading running back Ahmad Bradshaw, who combined with Brandon Jacobs put up a 5 yards/carry average against a good Packers defensive line. At the bottom of the league in the rushing game at a measly 83.8 yards/game, it’s essential for the Giants to continue to have success running the football, in order to take pressure off Eli Manning and the New York passing game. That may mean that the Giants will need to find a way to get out ahead in tonight’s contest, or at least stay on pace with Dallas on the scoring line, in order to avoid falling back on their strong passing game and leave the run as an afterthought.

For Dallas, things certainly don’t look so dire coming off their first loss in 5 games, but nonetheless tonight’s contest is just as critical for the Cowboys to come out a winner in, and mistakes like the ones made in Arizona last week cannot be repeated should Dallas look to win a big match-up with their divisional rivals New York. After a wake-up 19-13 overtime loss in a game Dallas had all but wrapped up, the Cowboys simply need to find a way to avoid a close decision in the 4th quarter, as they have been known to have issues holding games together down the home stretch. The Dallas offense starts of course with Tony Romo (3325 yards, 22 TDs, 9 INTs, 97.3 passer rating), who is having another solid year behind center, but the true surprise has been rookie running back DeMarco Murray, who seems to finally be the answer in the backfield for a Cowboys team that has struggled to find a healthy, consistent back to rely on. Averaging 5.5 yards/carry and pulling in 872 yards during his first campaign is impressive, although signs of regression are a bit discouraging. After huge games against Buffalo and Seattle, Murray hasn’t had a touchdown, a game over 87 yards on the ground, or a rushing average better than 4.0 yards/carry. There’s a good sign for Dallas that Felix Jones is back in the backfield game and appears to be healthy, but it’s critical for Dallas to be able to rely on a quality lead back against New York’s 23rd ranked rush defense, since it’s an area they need to be better at than New York considering how equally talented they are in the passing game.

Though the running game is crucial for both teams to be invested in for tonight’s big match-up, the game will inevitably hinge on the two sides’ best assets, which exist in the passing game. With New York ranking 4th in the league at 296.1 yards/game behind Eli Manning, there is little question the Giants will look to air it out deep more than a couple times tonight with the speedy and elusive Victor Cruz in the line-up (62 catches, 1072 yards, 7 TDs), and the more-involved Hakeem Nicks (57 catches, 860 yards, 6 TDs) working in tandem. Also the possible return of Mario Manningham, who sat the last two games with a sore knee, could greatly boost the prospects of the New York passing attack, as while it’s expected that Cruz and Nicks will be top targets, having another top-level receiver available to take up a defensive assignment will improve the overall passing game without a doubt. Dallas has been average against the pass this season, as they’ve focused mainly on containing the run and shutting down that half of opposing team’s offenses, but they also haven’t played against an elite quarterback since their 20-16 loss at New England in Week 6, and will have to shift their game plan for tonight’s match-up. While we can expect Eli Manning to have some success tonight considering his abilities and his talented arsenal of receivers, it’ll be very important for Dallas to keep Manning from picking the Cowboys secondary apart, and that will start with getting their voracious pass rush going early on.

Both these teams dominate in pressuring opposing quarterbacks, as is evident by the 35 sacks on the season for Dallas (1st in the NFC) followed by New York ranking second at 33 sacks, and keeping that pressure on in tonight’s match-up featuring two very good quarterbacks is another essential piece of a winning puzzle for these two teams. Against a New York team that has prevailed two games in a row at Cowboys’ Stadium, Dallas will plan to get at Eli Manning early and often starting with linebackers DeMarcus Ware (15.0 sacks, 42 tackles) and Anthony Spencer (6.0 sacks, 51 tackles) in the pass rush, and will need to put Manning to the ground as often as possible to keep the talented quarterback tense. When Manning is forced into making bad decisions, opposing defenses can quickly turn the tides on the Giants, but that is also true with Romo and the Cowboys. If the Giants can pressure Tony Romo into forcing balls towards Dez Bryant (46 catches, 706 yards, 7 TDs), Laurent Robinson (42 catches 626 yards, 7 TDs) and tight end Jason Witten (61 catches, 760 yards, 5 TDs), they may be able to produce a scenario like we saw all-too-often in the beginning of the year, whereby Dallas jumped out to an early lead, then had it whittled away due to their own mistakes.

Betting Lines for Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants

Our featured top online sportsbook of the day at has all the betting lines for today’s NFL games front and center on their website, with just one click of the ‘Sportsbook’ link. Searching through the sea of NFL match-ups, find Dallas getting -240 odds to win at home, despite the Giants recent success there. The 4-game losing streak certainly works against the Giants here, as they are +200 underdogs on the money line and +4.5 underdogs on the points spread (-110 odds), but for New York backers this is a good opportunity to hedge on a return to the winning column, hoping the Giants can parlay their good outing last week against Green Bay into a road environment where they know they can win. As the Giants and Cowboys both possess the ability to score very quickly utilizing the passing game, the 50 1/2 point mark for the over/under seems manageable, however we expect this game to be very much more defensive than most would expect, with more emphasis on the ground game in the early going. Even with more shutdown defense, the probability for this game to get out of hand late is very high, as both teams are known for bad defensive lapses in the 4th quarter, and with that we have to push for a bust out of the total points, hoping for both teams to reach up into the high twenties in scoring.

Our Pick To Win:

Though the Giants have their running back tandem in place once again, and should be able to produce points tonight against a Dallas team they’ve beaten twice on the road in the two previous match-ups at Cowboys’ Stadium, Dallas is the team playing better fundamental football, and should have the upper hand in tonight’s game, even if only by a slight margin. The defensive side of the ball is where we have to give the Cowboys the advantage, as they are much, much better against the run and pass despite having similarly talented pass rushes, and with a healthy Felix Jones alongside DeMarco Murray, Dallas should surprise with a big ground game tonight at home. That in turn should help set up Tony Romo to pick apart the suspect Giants secondary, especially when New York gets picked up on pass rushing, and give them an edge in this game. Expect a late rally from Eli Manning and his receivers to make this one interesting, but we’re going with Dallas to carry the torch for most of the game, and finish out with a big win at home that may be the death knell for Giants’ head coach Tom Coughlin’s career. Dallas prevails over New York, 34-27.


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