Dallas (11-1) at NY Giants (8-4)
When: Sunday, December 11th 2016
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
Time: 8:30 ET | TV: NBC
The Dallas Cowboys will look to avenge their only loss of the season when they visit the New York Giants for a big Sunday Night Football battle in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Since the opening week loss, the Cowboys have reeled off eleven straight victories and have found two rookies that are in the discussion for not only Rookie of the Year, but MVP of the league as well. Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott had their worst outings in the Week 1 loss, with Prescott completing just 25 of 45 passes for 227 yards and Elliott had his season-low mark of 51 yards on 20 carries. Dez Bryant had a slow start to the season as well with one catch for eight yards in the first meeting with the Giants, but has gained chemistry with Prescott and hauled in four touchdowns in his last four games. Veteran tight end Jason Witten had a nice opener with nine receptions for 66 yards, but saw his franchise-record games streak with a catch end at 130 in a 17-15 victory over Minnesota last week. Witten will look to exploit a Giants defense that has struggled versus tight ends this season, allowing 63 receptions and 793 yards with three touchdowns. DE DeMarcus Lawrence missed practice on Thursday with a sore back, leaving his availability questionable for Sunday’s game. Dallas can clinch a first-round bye with a win and a loss or tie by Detroit or a loss by Seattle. The Cowboys can also clinch home-field advantage through the playoffs with a win plus losses by both the Lions and Seahawks.
The Giants six-game winning streak was halted last week in a 24-14 loss at Pittsburgh, but the team still sits a game and a half clear of Washington in the Wild Card race. The Giants kept Elliott to a season-low 2.6 yards per carry in Week 1, but saw Le’Veon Bell become the first rusher to reach triple digits against them on Sunday following a 118-yard performance. Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. did not catch any of Eli Manning’s three touchdown passes in the opener, but has found the end zone eight times in his last eight games. Rookie WR Sterling Shepard has recorded a touchdown reception in four of his last five games. Stopping Elliott for the 5th-best rush defense became an even harder chore for New York after news broke that veteran Jason Pierre-Paul will be sidelined at least six weeks following sports hernia surgery. Pierre-Paul recorded six tackles and two quarterback hurries in the first meeting with Dallas, although the Giants were unable to register a sack on Prescott. Fellow defensive end Olivier Vernon (team-leading eight sacks) has a sack in six straight games and multiple sacks in three consecutive games. Romeo Okwara, Owa Odighizuwa and Kerry Wynn are expected to take on larger roles in Pierre-Paul’s absence for the Giants.
As much as I want to go against the public in this one, I just see the Cowboys as a far more superior team than New York. Dallas is playing much better since Week 1 and the whole team is gelling. Pierre-Paul is a huge loss for the Giants and I see Elliott having another 100+ yard effort. Manning might be able to gain some yards through the air against Dallas’ 29th-ranked pass defense, but in the end, he’ll turn over the ball in a critical spot.
Pick: Cowboys -3.5