Friday, October 26, 2007

Beasts of the East series - Giants Edition

The Counselor is IN:

The fine folks at Cowboys Pride are running a series that highlights the NFC East which is entitled Beasts fo the East. I wrote an article highlighting the Beast of the East- New York Giants edition and how they stack up again the Cowobys.

Along with my post, Dave Troll has a great article on the Beasts of the East- Washington Redskins Edition on Cowboys Pride. The Eagles and Cowboys -Beast of the East- articles will be added to Cowboys Pride during the next few days.

I am including my article for my readers below. Please check out the other Beasts of the East articles on Cowboys Pride.

Beasts of the East series - Giants Edition

As a part of Cowboys Pride’s spotlight on the Beasts of the East (NFC East), I will be examining the New York Giants. Even though they are a hated rival, I will do my best to fairly break down their team.

The Giants know how to score. They are 6th overall in scoring offense, with 26.7 points per game. They are rushing for 130.4 yards a game (11th overall) and should get better with Jacobs becoming healthier.

Their defense is holding opponents to 303.4 yards per game, which is 8th in the league. Their defense, which looked terrible the first two weeks, now appears to be one of their strengths. The defense should continue to get better as the season goes on.

Plaxico Burress has been a great target for Eli. He is large and can outjump most cornerbacks in the NFL. Along with his leaping ability, Plaxico is very quick and can get separation from cornerbacks. He has been red hot this season, even when injured.

Their defense is giving up a lot of points per game — 21.3 points. This defense continues to get better, but they still give up a lot of points. A "high octane" offense can outscore this team in a slugfest.

Eli Manning has been a very average starting QB rather than looking like the #1 overall pick. He has a "mortal" 82.9 passer rating. They are only 16th in passing yards. He has a 60.4 completion percentage. At times, Eli does remind you of his brother, but other times his performance and decision-making have no resemblance to Peyton's. If Eli is forced to make plays, then the Giants are likely to struggle.

Key Injuries:
Brandon Jacobs
: He is "questionable" with an ankle injury. He gained 107 yards rushing in Week 7 while being questionable with his bad injury. He did not seem to be suffering from any ill effects of it on Monday. He is a big boy with good feet and can be a punishing back if he can stay healthy.

Derrick Ward: Derrick is listed as "probable" with an ankle injury. He ran the ball 7 times for 27 yards against the 49ers. He has been a good backup for Jacobs and was a capable starter when Jacobs was injured earlier in the year.

Plaxico Burress: He is also "questionable" with an ankle injury. Even when it was really bothering him, he still had monster games. He will continue to be Eli’s go-to guy.

The Giants have a current record of 5-2. They have played well their last five games. Below is their remaining schedule for the season.

Week 8: Oct. 28 NYG @ MIA
Week 9: Bye Week
Week 10: Nov. 11 DAL @ NYG
Week 11: Nov. 18 NYG @ DET
Week 12: Nov. 25 MIN @ NYG
Week 13: Dec. 02 NYG @ CHI
Week 14: Dec. 09 NYG @ PHI
Week 15: Dec. 16 WAS @ NYG
Week 16: Dec. 23 NYG @ BUF
Week 17: Dec. 29 NE @ NYG

This team should finish the season with about a 10-6 record after examining their schedule. That should be good enough for a second place finish in the NFC East. They should receive a Wild Card playoff berth. I would give them 3:2 odds to make the playoffs. In recent years, the Giants have fallen apart at the end of the season to sink their record and playoff chances. For them to finish second in the NFC East and make the playoffs, they will have to overcome their bad habit of the late-season train wreck.

Prediction for the NFC East Final Standings
Cowboys 12-4
Giants 10-6
Redskins 9-7
Eagles 5-11

How the Giants match up against the Cowboys

NY's Quarterback and Receivers vs. Dallas' Defense:
As stated in the Weaknesses section, Eli Manning has moments of brilliance and moments of bad judgment. He is 16th in passing yards. He has yet to develop into a top quarterback and remains an average QB for the NFL.

The Giants do have good receivers. The receiver corps is led by Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Shockey. This tandem is difficult to stop. Amani Toomer is quietly having a good year as well. The Cowboys will have to pick their poison with double-coverages.

The Cowboys’ cornerbacks have been banged-up this season. If Newman is 100% and Henry is back, then they should be able to cover the receivers most of the time. Henry has four interceptions, despite missing a couple of weeks with injury. The Cowboys are prone to getting burnt in the secondary, especially when the safeties are in coverage. The Cowboys are a middle-of-the-road 15th against the pass, having given up 208.9 yards per game (although that average does take into account all of Brady’s yards against them).

The first few games of the season, the Cowboys' pass rush was not effective. With Greg Ellis back on the field, the pass rush has been improving. DeMarcus Ware continues to be a monster, with six sacks. Ellis already has four. Anthony Spencer continues to learn the position of linebacker but is starting to get some pressure on QBs. They have 18 sacks through 7 games.

Advantage: Cowboys

NY's Running Backs and Offensive Line vs. Dallas' Defense:
The combination of Derrick Ward and Brandon Jacobs is a potent combination. Ward is averaging 4.4 yards per carry, and Jacobs is averaging 5.6 yards per carry. Jacobs is a big back — listed at 264 lbs. — and can be a bruiser. Ward is much lighter and quicker. They are averaging 130.4 rushing yards per game.

New York has a solid offensive line that can open holes for their running back tandem. They also protect Eli fairly well. They have only given up eight sacks this season.

The Cowboys' defense is 7th against the run and 7th overall in yards. They are only giving up 87.0 yards rushing per game and 295.9 total yards per game. They do, however, give up a lot of points per game.

Advantage: Draw

Dallas' Running Backs and Offensive Line vs. NY's Defense:
Dallas also has a potent tandem of running backs. Starter Julius Jones is a quick and shifty back that is averaging 3.8 yards per carry, but he often runs against the defense when it is the freshest. The pile-driving Marion Barber III runs with intensity and picks up 5.7 yards per carry. The Cowboys are also averaging 130.4 rushing yards per game.

The offensive line for the Cowboys has improved since last year. They are making nice holes for the running backs. However, they continue to give up too many sacks — 11 through 7 games — and have costly penalties.

The Giants' defense is very solid. They are 10th against the run and appear to be finding their groove. They are holding teams to 97.4 yards per game. This team is tough to run against. It will be a tough day for Barber and Jones, especially early in the game.

Advantage: Cowboys — but barely

Dallas' Quarterback and Receivers vs. NY's Defense:
In one year, Tony Romo has gone from a nice story as an undrafted backup to a budding star as the quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. He has a passer rating of 95.6 and has thrown 16 touchdowns in 7 games. His completion rate is 62.8. He also brings elusiveness and the ability to make plays on the run. The Cowboys are fourth in passing yards with 271.6 yards per game.

Dallas' receiving corps is led by Terrell Owens and TE Jason Witten. Patrick Crayton is nicely filling in on the other side of Owens while Glenn is recovering. This receiving corps is dangerous.

The Giants' defensive line is anchored by great pass rushers Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora. This defense has an amazing 27 sacks after 7 weeks. They will need to keep the pressure on Romo to slow him down.

The Giants are 16th against the pass and give up 217.3 yards per game. They have given up some big plays. They do have 8 interceptions in 7 games. The secondary appears to be average.

Advantage: Cowboys

The Giants are almost a mirror image of the Cowboys. The big difference is the effectiveness of the Cowboys' aerial attack compared to the mediocrity of the Giants' passing game. This difference should lead to a hard-fought victory on November 11.

That is my review of the Giants as a Beast in the East.

The Counselor is OUT:

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